March 2, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. – The postseason finally begins on Friday for the No. 3 Notre Dame women’s basketball team as the quest for four ACC Tournament championships in four years begins with a 2 p.m. game against Virginia. The contest pitting the top-seeded Irish and Cavaliers will be shown regionally on ACC Network affiliates and streamed elsewhere (including South Bend) on WatchESPN.
Here are a few things to know about the quarterfinal tilt from Coastal Carolina’s HTC Center.
About the Cavaliers
The ACC’s No. 8-seed, Virginia stands at 19-11 on the season after downing ninth-seeded Wake Forest, 61-44, on Thursday afternoon in the tournament’s second round. The Cavaliers are remarkably balanced as four of the team’s five regular starters average between 9.5 and 10.0 points per game. Breyana Mason boasts that 10.0 average to top the team while a pair of ACC all-freshman team members, Dominique Toussaint and Jocelyn Willoughby average 9.7 and 9.5, respectively. Joanne Boyle is 109-83 at Virginia and 313-176 overall as a head coach.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series, 4-2, with Virginia winning a pair of games in the 1980s and the Irish claiming each of the four meetings since joining the ACC. Ranked UVa teams claimed victories over the Irish on a neutral court in Chicago in 1981 and at the Cavaliers’ University Hall in 1988.
The Irish beat the Cavaliers at John Paul Jones Arena in 2014 and 2016 with Notre Dame also taking games at Purcell Pavilion in 2015 and 2017.
On Jan. 29 at Notre Dame, Virginia hung tight with the Irish in a 82-74 Notre Dame win where the home team never led by more than 11 points. Marina Mabrey led all scorers with 26 points while Arike Ogunbowale chipped in 21 more. Lindsay Allen had a double-double with 10 assists and 11 rebounds, believed to be the first in school history without including points.
Conference Tournament Success
The Irish ride a 12-game conference tournament winning streak into Conway, including a perfect 9-0 mark in ACC play. Overall, Notre Dame is 45-19 in conference tournament play, including its time in the MCC (now Horizon League), BIG EAST and ACC.
The Irish are vying for their 10th conference tournament championship and fifth in a row. Nationally, only Notre Dame, Albany (America East) and Baylor (Big 12) have won their conference tournament each of the past four years.
Notre Dame is playing a conference tournament on a neutral floor for just the fourth time – all coming in the ACC era.
Irish Among Hottest Teams in the Country
Notre Dame rides an 11-game winning streak into the ACC Tournament. As of Monday, that tied Ohio State for the seventh longest active winning streak nationally. The Irish have not lost since a Jan. 16 setback at Tennessee.
The Irish also won each of their last 15 ACC games of the year. The run ties New Mexico State (WAC) for the fourth-longest active conference winning streak in the country.
Helping the Irish to these runs has been its success away from Purcell Pavilion. The Irish went 12-2 on the road this year. As of Monday, only UConn (14) and Belmont (13) had more road wins in 2016-17.
Irish Aiming For ACC, National History
The Irish have claimed their sixth consecutive outright regular season conference title and are now in position to extend a couple of historic tournament championship streaks.
The Irish are vying for their fourth consecutive dual outright ACC regular season and tournament championships, a feat only previously accomplished in the league by Duke from 2001-04.
Including the final days of BIG EAST membership, Notre Dame is looking for five consecutive dual outright regular season and conference tournament championships, a feat no one else can actively claim.
Looking at the handful of others to accomplish these feats:
FOUR STRAIGHT OUTRIGHT ACC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS
Notre Dame (2014-17)
2012-17 OUTRIGHT REGULAR SEASON CONFERENCE CHAMPS
Notre Dame (BIG EAST and ACC)
FOUR STRAIGHT ACC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIPS
North Carolina (2005-08)
2013-16 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
Notre Dame (BIG EAST and ACC)
Albany (America East)
Baylor (Big 12)
4x OUTRIGHT ACC REGULAR SEASON & TOURNAMENT CHAMPS
2013-16 CONFERENCE REGULAR & TOURN. CHAMPIONS
Notre Dame (BIG EAST and ACC)
Friday, I’m in Love
Heading into Friday’s quarterfinal, Notre Dame has only played one other Friday game this year. It was the season opener back on Nov. 11 against Central Michigan and it proved to be one of Notre Dame’s most lopsided wins.
Behind 30 points from Arike Ogunbowale, the Irish beat the Chippewas, 107-47, in the opening round of the Preseason WNIT. The Irish shot 61.5% from the floor and 54.5% from 3-point range.
How to Watch/Listen
The game will be broadcast regionally through the ACC Network with Jenn Hildreth, LaChina Robinson and Chelsea Shine on the call. The game is not available on local TV in South Bend. Irish fans outside of the South Bend area can check their local listings for availability here.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of Friday’s game is available here.
Bob Nagle returns for his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame’s local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The direct link to the radio call is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame’s women’s basketball and men’s golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.