Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

No. 6/5 Irish Embark on 2017-18 Season

Nov. 9, 2017

Game 1: #6/5 Notre Dame (0-0) vs Mount St. Mary’s (0-0)
When: Saturday, Nov. 11 | 1:02 pm ET
Where: Notre Dame, Ind. | Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
Listen: PULSE FM 96.9 / 92.1 | Bob Nagle (PxP)
Live Scoring:
Notes: Notre Dame | Mount St. Mary’s
Social: @NDWBB

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 6/5 Notre Dame women’s basketball squad will officially embark on the 2017-18 season on Saturday, Nov. 11, when the Irish host Mount St. Mary’s in its season opener. Tip-off is slated for 1:02 p.m. ET inside Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center, streaming live on ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN.


Notre Dame’s Ring of Honor will have a new addition on Saturday in the form of 2014 graduate Kayla McBride, joining the likes of Ruth Riley, Skylar Diggins-Smith, Niele Ivey and Beth (Morgan) Cunningham. The on-court ceremony will take place pre-game at 12:39 p.m.

McBride played a pivotal role in one of the most successful four years in Notre Dame history. She helped lead the Irish to four consecutive Final Fours (2011-14), including three title game appearances. In addition, her senior class recorded the second-most wins (138) of any other class in history.

A two-time All-American, including a consensus first team choice in 2014, McBride made the most of her four years at Notre Dame to develop into the pro player she is today. Her continued improvement was on full display her senior year when she reeled in the following major accolades: Wade Trophy Finalist, Wooden Award Finalist, WBCA Coaches’ All-Region II Team, ACC Player of the Year, All-ACC Tournament First Team, NCAA Regional All-Tournament selection and NCAA Final Four All-Tournament Team honoree.

When all was said and done, McBride ranked first all-time in career free-throw percentage (.882) and sixth in scoring with her 1,876 career points. The Erie, Pennsylvania, native went on to be drafted No. 3 overall by the San Antonio Stars (now Las Vegas), earning WNBA All-Rookie Team honors in 2014 and was named a WNBA All-Star in 2015.


Notre Dame returns three veteran starters in junior guards Arike Ogunbowale and Marina Mabrey, along with senior forward Kathryn Westbeld. The upcoming 2017-18 season could potentially witness all three joining the 1,000-career point club with Ogunbowale (986 pts) and Mabrey (916 pts) near certainties. Furthermore, Westbeld sits at 792 career points.

The last time Notre Dame had at least two players reach 1,000 career points in the same season was in 2013 when Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa each hit the mark. Seven other Irish teams also saw two players hit the milestone while the record of three was set back in 1985 by Trena Keys, Mary Beth Schueth and Carrie Bates.


Notre Dame has been nothing short but dominant in its season openers, specifically when opening at home. In fact, the Irish have won each of their last 22 home openers, dating back to an 87-83 loss to No. 13 Purdue on Nov. 30, 1994.

The Irish have won each of the last 17 games when its home opener was also its season opener, not losing since an 86-70 defeat to No. 3 Penn State on Nov. 22, 1991. Regardless of venue, Notre Dame has not lost a season opener in its last 22 seasons, stretching back to a loss at No. 25 Seton Hall on Nov. 26, 1994.

The only time Notre Dame has ever lost a season opener at home to an unranked team came on Nov. 22, 1980, with a 67-60 loss at the hands of South Dakota. For historical perspective, that game came the day after Muffet McGraw made her collegiate assistant coaching debut, helping St. Joseph’s to a, 84-57 win over Duke on Hawk Hill.

Last year, the Irish began their campaign with an emphatic 107-47 victory over Central Michigan in the Preseason WNIT opener.


To kick off the 2017-18 season, espnW listed the top-25 most talented players in the game today with Arike Ogunbowale landing in the No. 15 spot. Analyst Charlie Creme noted:

“Never lacking in confidence with the ball in her hands, Ogunbowale has become one of the most creative and exciting players in the game. She is equal parts deep shooter, innovative slasher and skilled post-up player, making her a difficult matchup for any defender. Ogunbowale was Notre Dame’s most accurate 3-point shooter and also got to the free throw line more than anyone on the team last season except forward Brianna Turner.”


On Nov. 1, just hours before tip-off of Notre Dame’s exhibition, junior transfer Jessica Shepard received word that her waiver had been approved by the NCAA and she was eligible effective immediately.

Shepard was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year in 2016 and claimed a spot on the all-Big Ten team during each of her two seasons with Nebraska. As a sophomore in 2016-17, she averaged 18.6 points per game and 9.8 rebounds per game, totaling 15 double-doubles. Shepard earned a spot on the Naismith Award’s Midseason Top 30 list, a list that also included Notre Dame teammates Arike Ogunbowale and Brianna Turner.

As a freshman, Shepard set a Big Ten record by being named the freshman rookie of the week 10 times en route to her Big Ten Freshman of the Year accolade. Shepard earned two Big Ten Player of the Week awards that season and was the espnW National Player of the Week on Jan. 25, 2016, after recording the first 30-point, 20-rebound game in school history — scoring 35 points and grabbing 20 boards in a win over Michigan.


Last season, Mount St. Mary’s finished 12-18 overall and 10-8 in the Northeast Conference. The Mountaineers ultimately claimed fifth place in the league and bowed out in the NEC Quarterfinals. This season, The Mount were predicted to finish eighth in the NEC Preseason Coaches Poll

Now, enter first year head coach Maria Marchesano, who arrives after an associate head coaching stint at IUPUI, where she guided the 2016-17 squad to the most wins in a single season in program history (24-9). The Mount will welcome back three starters from last year’s squad, including leading scorer and All-NEC standout Caroline Hummell, along with All-Rookie selection Ashlee White. Hummel averaged 10.3 points per game, shooting 41.3 percent from the field, while White tacked on 6.4 ppg.

As a whole, The Mount averaged 58.8 ppg, shooting 36.5 percent from the field, 30.9 percent from three and 71.4 percent from the free-throw line.

Coach Marchesano bolstered her roster with the addition of six freshmen in Bridget Birkhead (Doylestown, Pa.), Rebecca Lee (Severn, Md.), Hunter Rowson (Upper Marlboro, Md.), Jatarrikah Settle (Odenton, Md.), Daly Sullivan (South Bend, Ind.) and Aryna Taylor (Ashland, Va.).

Mount St. Mary’s and Notre Dame have only met once in program history, dating back to Dec. 19, 1981, when the Mount emerged with a 57-44 victory over the Irish in Philadelphia at the Penn Holiday Tournament.


Josh Bates joined Fighting Irish Media as associate athletics communications director in July of 2017, serving as the women’s basketball and men’s golf contact. Bates earned both his bachelor’s (2011) and master’s (2014) degree in sports management from the University of Illinois. He also worked as a grad assistant at Illinois from 2012-14 and worked full-time at Tulane University from 2014-17.