Jan. 3, 2001
(#3 AP/#3 ESPN/USA Today) Notre Dame Fighting Irish (12-0, 1-0)
Virginia Tech Hokies (9-3, 0-1)
The Date and Time: Wednesday, Jan.3, 2001, at 7:00 p.m. EST.
The Site: Cassell Coliseum (10,052) in Blacksburg, Va.
Radio: All Notre Dame games are broadcast on WHLY-AM (1620 in South Bend) with Sean Stires (play by play). This live broadcast also is available through the Notre Dame athletic department web site at www.und.com.
Websites: Notre Dame (www.und.com),Virginia Tech (www.hokiesports.com).
The third-ranked Notre Dame women’s basketball team begins the New Year with a trip to BIG EAST newcomer Virginia Tech for a 7:00 p.m. game on Wed., Jan. 3, at Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va., in the first-ever meeting between the teams. The Irish begin the bulk of their BIG EAST schedule with a 1-0 conference record following a Dec. 6 win over Villanova.
The Irish enter the game with their highest-ever ranking at third for the fourth consecutive week and are off to their best start ever at 12-0. Notre Dame doubled up visiting Rice 80-40 in its last outing on Sun., Dec. 31 at the Joyce Center for the second unbeaten record vs. its non-conference regular-season opponents in the last three years after an 8-0 mark vs. non-BIG EAST teams during the 1998-99 regular season.
All five of Notre Dame’s starters average double- figure scoring, while the Irish have outscored their 12 opponents by an average of 16 points in the first half. Notre Dame is led by three of the best players in the country at their respective positions. Senior All-America center Ruth Riley (15.3)leads the team in scoring and is the only player in the NCAA statistical rankings for blocks and field-goal percentage (15th at 61.0 entering last week, currently 61.9). All-America candidate and fifth-year point guard Niele Ivey (13.6) leads the BIG EAST in steals (3.42/game)and assists (7.25/ game). Sophomore shooting guard Alicia Ratay (14.7) leads the nation three-point shooting (30-46, 65.2)and scored a game-high 21 points vs. Western Mich. –finishing the game with nine consecutive made field goals.
A large part of Notre Dame’s fast start this season also is due to the play of its other two starters, senior Kelley Siemon and junior Ericka Haney. Siemon (10.0) leads the Irish in rebounding (6.9) and is tied for sixth in the BIG EAST in rebounding. Haney (11.8) had a career-high 21 points in the win over Marquette, making her first 10 field goals before finishing 10-12, and had 18 points vs. Rice.
The Irish enter the Virginia Tech game with a 12-0 record –their first 12-0 start in the history of the program after surpassing the previous best start of 6-0 from 1998-99 team. The 12-game winning streak currently stands tied for third longest in the country.
With the second-best shooting team in the BIG EAST (.500), Notre Dame has won its first 12 games by an average of 24.3 points and has shot better than 50 percent from the field in five of 12 games, better than 46 percent in 10 of 12 games and better than 40 percent in all 12 games.
The Irish defense leads the BIG EAST in opponent shooting (.329) and has held its opponents to under 40.0 in 10 of 12 games –including eight games under 35.0 percent. The hot shooting of Ratay ,strong point guard play of Ivey (87 assists,41 steals) and dominating defensive presence and shooting touch Riley (30 blocks, 70-113 FG, .61.9) have led the Irish to big early leads. Forwards Siemon and Haney have given the Irish timely contributions. Notre Dame was one of only two teams (Auburn) ranked among the NCAA leaders in both field-goal percentage (fifth at 50.9) and field-goal percentage defense (12th at 34.2) according to last week’s NCAA statistics.
Head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 14th year at Notre Dame with a 300-115 (.723) record and her 19th as a collegiate coach with a 387-156 (.713) mark. She has led the Irish to five straight NCAA tournament appearances and seven overall. McGraw was named a finalist for the Naismith Women’s Basketball and AP coach-of-the-year awards last year.
Senior All-America center Ruth Riley and junior forward Ericka Haney each scored a game-high 18 points to lead the Irish to their 12th win in as many games this season with an 80-40 victory over Rice.
All-America candidate and fifth-year point guard Niele Ivey added 13 points and had nine rebounds and seven assists. Notre Dame’s defense held Rice to just 14-62 (22.6)from the field with no Owl player in double-digit scoring. The Irish scored 40 points in each half and led 40-17 at halftime. After
Rice cut the halftime lead to 19 points just 1:40 into the second half, Notre Dame went on a 14-1 run to build a 56-24 lead 5:36 into the half, and the Owls never got closer than 28 points the rest of the way. The Irish had a season-high 58 rebounds, 22 more than the Owls’36.
RILEY NAMED BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
For the fifth time in her decorated career, senior All-America center Ruth Riley has been selected as the BIG EAST player of the week for the week of Jan. 1. She scored 41 points and had 13 rebounds in a pair of Irish wins last week over USC and Rice. Against Southern California in the 70-61 victory,
Riley led all scorers with a season-high 23 points, shooting 7-9 from the field and 9-11 from the free- throw line. She scored a game-high 18 points, going 7-11 from the field and 4-4 in free throws in the 80-40 win against the Owls.
29 AND COUNTING
Notre Dame extended its home winning streak to a school-record 29 straight wins at the Joyce Center with its victory over Rice on Dec. 31. The streak currently is the fourth longest active streak in the country, behind Grambling (66),Kent (36)and Texas Tech (35). The Irish have not lost at home in over two years since a loss to top-ranked UConn on Dec. 8,1998.
Notre Dame has raced through its first 12 games, beating opponents from seven major conferences. The Irish have posted wins vs. the ACC (North Carolina), Atlantic 10 (Fordham), Big 10 (Purdue, Wisconsin), Conference USA (Marquette), Pacific-10 (Arizona,USC), SEC (Georgia)and Western Athletic (Rice).
Life outside of the BIG EAST Conference has been good to Notre Dame over the past four years. The Irish sport a 45-9 (.833)overall record vs. non-conference teams in the last four-plus seasons and a 36-5 (.878)record in the regular season. The Irish finished the non-conference portion of their 2000- 01 schedule with an 11-0 record –their second unbeaten record vs. their non-conference regular- season opponents in the last three years after an 8-0 mark vs. non-BIG EAST teams during the 1998- 99 regular season.
Notre Dame also has a four-year old, 21-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center –a streak that includes wins over Purdue in 1997 and 2000 and a pair of sixth-ranked teams (UCLA and Duke)and 25th-ranked Illinois in 1998-99. Notre Dame’s last non-conference loss at the Joyce Center came over four years ago when 19th-ranked Wisconsin beat the Irish on Dec. 9,1996.
McGRAW WINS 300TH AT NOTRE DAME
Notre Dame’s win over Rice on Dec. 31, marked Muffet McGraw’s 300th win at Notre Dame in her 14th season as head coach of the Irish. She has a 300-115 (.723)record at Notre Dame and a 387- 156 career record (.713). Her 300 wins at Notre Dame equal nearly 65 percent of the total wins in the 23-plus seasons of varsity Irish women’s basketball. McGraw also needs just 13 victories to reach the 400-win plateau in her 19-plus seasons as a head coach –and to become the fourth BIG EAST coach and the third this season to reach 400 victories.
IVEY NEARS STEALS RECORD,CLIMBS ASSIST LEADERS
Fifth-year point guard and All-America candidate Niele Ivey has herself ready to break current Irish assistant coach Coquese Washington’s school record for career steals. Ivey enters the Virginia Tech game with 295 steals in her career, just 12 from the record 307 steals by Washington from 1989-93. Ivey (567)recently moved ahead of Washington (554)for fourth place on the Irish career assist list.
THE RILEY REPORT
National player-of-the-year candidate Ruth Riley has been at her dominating best this season — making her presence felt on both ends of the court as the only player ranked among the NCAA leaders in both field-goal percentage and blocked shots. In addition to her offensive efficiency (70-113 FG,61.9 percentage third in BIG EAST,15th in NCAA), Riley leads the BIG EAST and is third in the country with 30 blocked shots (2.50/game),while committing just 27 personal fouls (2.25/game). The two-time BIG EAST defensive player of the year is averaging one block shot every 10-plus minutes she plays and just one foul every 11-plus minutes of action.
Junior forward Ericka Haney scored game-highs with 18 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Rice for her second double-double of the season. Notre Dame has totalled nine double-doubles in 12 games by five different players. Other double-double performance for the Irish this season include Ruth Riley (vs. Villanova and Marquette), Niele Ivey (vs. Valparaiso, Arizona and Villanova), Ericka Haney (vs. North Carolina),K elley Siemon (vs. Georgia)and Meaghan Leahy (vs. Fordham).
DOUBLE-DOUBLE FOR DOUBLE “3”
Fifth-year point guard and All-America candidate Niele Ivey entered the season with seven career double-doubles (four in ’99-’00 and three in ’98-’99)and already has three in ’00-01. She had a pair of double-doubles in the first two games of the season and a third vs. Villanova. Ivey scored 12 points and had 10 assists and five steals vs. Valparaiso in the season opener and then recorded 11 assists against just one turnover to go along with 14 points against Arizona. She had 11 points,10 assists, six steals and six rebounds vs. just four turnovers vs. Villanova. Ivey has had four double-figure assist outings in Notre Dame’s nine games.
IVEY NAMED COACHES VS. CANCER MVP,BIG EAST PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Fifth-year point guard Niele Ivey was named the MVP of the Coaches Vs. Cancer Challenge as she helped the Irish win the event with her strong play. She totaled 41 points on 14-21 shooting (7-9 3PT, 6-6 FT)in 71 minutes of action along with 13 rebounds,11 assists and eight steals vs. just 10 assists. Ivey recorded game-high scoring vs. both Wisconsin (22)and Georgia (19). She was named BIG EAST player of the week (Nov. 27) for her efforts for the fourth time in her career.
IVEY REACHES 1,000-POINT PLATEAU
Fifth-year PG Niele Ivey scored five points in the first four minutes against Valparaiso to surpass the 1,000-point milestone in her career. She joined the list of 16 other Irish players (including Ruth Riley ) who have scored at least 1,000 points. Ivey scored 15 points in five games as a freshman in 1996-97 before a knee injury ended her season. She then scored 254 points in ’97-98,369 in ’98-99 and 358 in ’99-’00 to reach 996 points entering the season.