Dec. 12, 2005
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office announced Monday that the Dec. 31 women’s basketball game between the Irish and Tennessee at the Joyce Center is sold out. The official announcement of the 11,418-seat sellout, the third in program history, comes 19 days prior to tip-off and makes the 2 p.m. (ET) New Year’s Eve contest the fastest sellout in the 29-year history of Notre Dame women’s basketball. The Irish had two capacity crowds in their first national championship season of 2000-01 — vs. top-ranked Connecticut on Jan. 15, and vs. Georgetown for Senior Night on Feb. 24 — with the latter contest exhausting its ticket allotment 15 days in advance.
“We have always known our fans are the best in the country, and we’re excited to be able to play Tennessee in front of an arena full of our loyal Irish supporters on New Year’s Eve,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said. “The Joyce Center has proven to be a tremendous home court advantage for us over the years and that’s due in large part to our fans.”
For the past five seasons, Notre Dame has been ranked among the top 20 in the country in attendance, and early indications are that the Irish are headed in that direction once again this year. In the first unofficial national attendance rankings of the 2005-06 season, as compiled by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office, Notre Dame was ranked 11th with an average of 5,744 fans per game. What’s more, the Irish have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more to 68 of their last 70 home games, with 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history coming in the past six years, and each of those top 20 crowds occurring in the 19-year McGraw era (1987-present).
Notre Dame has played every one of its home women’s basketball games at the Joyce Center since the program debuted in 1977-78. In that time, the Irish have compiled a 280-72 (.795) record, including a 130-11 (.922) mark during the past 11 years. In addition, Notre Dame has won 57 of its last 60 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season, and only once in that span have the Irish lost more than two games in a season at the Joyce Center.
This season, Notre Dame (6-1) has been ranked 16th or higher in both major national polls since opening night, rising as high as No. 10 in last week’s Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today rankings before dropping its first contest of the year, 65-54 at No. 24/23 Purdue on Dec. 7. Meanwhile, Tennessee (8-0) is the No. 1 team in both polls, easing past Duke into the top spot last week. This year’s contest, which will be televised nationally on College Sports Television (CSTV), marks UT’s first visit to South Bend since 1994.
Following a 10-day break for final exams, Notre Dame returns to action Saturday at 2:30 p.m. PT (5:30 p.m. ET in South Bend) when it squares off with Arkansas State in the opening round of the Duel in the Desert at Cox Pavilion in Las Vegas.
— ND —