Senior Megan Duffy looks to lead the Irish against Pittsburgh.

Sellout Crowd Awaits As No. 12/11 Irish Meet No. 1 Tennessee Saturday At Joyce Center

Dec. 30, 2005

Complete Tennessee Game Notes Package in PDF Format
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2005-06 ND Women’s Basketball: Game 11
#12/11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-1 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs.
#1/1 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (11-0 / 0-0 Southeastern)

DATE: December 31, 2005
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. – Joyce Center (11,418)
SERIES: Tennessee leads 16-0
1ST MTG: 11/25/83 (UT 71-56)
LAST MTG: 11/30/03 (UT 83-59)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1580 AM – Mike Lockert, p-b-p
TV: CSTV (live) – Tom Hart, p-b-p; Debbie Antonelli, color
TICKETS: None available – the game is a sellout

• Notre Dame plays host to a top-ranked opponent for the fifth time in school history, as Tennessee visits South Bend for the first time since 1994.
• Saturday’s game is an advance sellout of 11,418 fans, the third capacity crowd in the 29-year history of the Irish program.

The No. 12/11 Notre Dame women’s basketball team closes out the non-conference portion of its schedule, as well as the 2005 calendar year, when it welcomes No. 1 Tennessee to the Joyce Center Saturday for a 2 p.m. (ET) contest. The game will be televised nationally by College Sports Television (CSTV; DirecTV Channel 610).

The Irish are off to a 9-1 start for the fourth time in school history (all in the past eight seasons) following a 58-50 victory over Valparaiso on Wednesday at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame led all the way, opening up a comfortable double-digit lead midway through the first half and then cruising to the win.

Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader had game highs of 13 points and seven rebounds for the Irish. Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico and senior forward Courtney LaVere each added 10 points for Notre Dame, which stayed unbeaten in 19 series games vs. Valparaiso.

• Notre Dame is ranked 12th in this week’s Associated Press poll and 11th in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.
• Tennessee is ranked 1st in this week’s Associated Press poll and 1st in the current ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll.

Web Sites
• Notre Dame:
• Tennessee:
• Southeastern:

Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 19th-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country’s leading women’s basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 12 NCAA Tournaments (including the past 10 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women’s Final Four twice, winning college basketball’s ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.

In its history, Notre Dame has developed eight All-Americans, eight WNBA players (including five draft picks in the past five years) and four USA Basketball veterans (eight medals won). Now in their 29th season in 2005-06, the Irish own an all-time record of 584-255 (.696).

Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph’s ’77
• 19th season at Notre Dame
• 420-156 (.729) at Notre Dame.
• 508-197 (.721) in 24 years as head coach.
• 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year
• Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist
• Four-time conference Coach of the Year
• BIG EAST Conference (2001)
• Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
• North Star Conference (1988)
• East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)

A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Entering the 2005-06 season, Notre Dame knew it would need a healthy dose of balance and chemistry in order to be successful. With the graduation losses of 2004-05 BIG EAST Player of the Year and All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast, as well as rugged and dependable center Teresa Borton, the Irish were missing two significant components from last year’s squad that posted a 27-6 record, rose as high as third in the national polls, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

During the first 10 games of this season, Notre Dame has learned much about itself, working to sharpen the balance and chemistry that will be so critical during the BIG EAST campaign and the postseason. Led by gritty senior point guard and preseason All-American Megan Duffy (a co-captain on the gold medal-winning 2005 USA World University Games Team), the Irish have jumped out to a 9-1 start, marking the second consecutive year and fourth time in the past eight seasons Notre Dame has gotten off to such a strong debut.

The Irish have received contributions from many different sources in the first two months of the season, with at least three double-figure scorers in nine of 10 games (including a season-high five vs. No. 22/21 Utah) and eight different players have scored in double digits at least once thus far. What’s more, eight players are averaging at least 17 minutes of action per night.

Duffy has been a strong all-around contributor for Notre Dame during non-conference play. The veteran floor general is averaging a team-best 15.2 points, 4.7 assists and 2.5 steals per game,with a 2.35 assist/turnover ratio, ranking among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in all four categories. In addition, she is second in the league and 21st in the nation in foul shooting (.905). She also has led the team in scoring six times and in assists eight times this year. Duffy already has been tapped for the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll three times this season, and she a;s earned a spot on the Duel in the Desert All-Tournament Team after averaging 12.5 points and 7.0 assists in piloting the Irish to the tourney title.

Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico has proven to be a solid complement in the post to Duffy’s perimeter presence. D’Amico is second on the team in scoring (10.3 ppg.) and rebounding (5.8 rpg.), while setting the pace in both blocked shots (1.5 bpg., sixth in the BIG EAST) and field goal percentage (.569). The pre-Christmas Duel in the Desert may have been her breakout performance, as she averaged 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds per game with an .824 field goal percentage (14-17) en route to tournament Most Valuable Player and BIG EAST Player of the Week honors.

Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader also has shown tremendous promise during the early portion of the season. The former McDonald’s All-American already has been named BIG EAST Freshman of the Week once (Nov. 21) after turning in an impressive 10-point, 14-rebound effort in her debut outing against Michigan, becoming just the second player in school history (first since 1979) to record a double-double in her first game. She also averaged 13.5 points per game and shot a blistering 80 percent from the field (12-of-15) in wins over Iona and Wisconsin, going 6-of-6 in the latter contest. Those marks earned Schrader a spot on the Dec. 5 BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll, the first freshman to appear on that list this season. She recently tacked on her second double-double of the year with 10 points and 10 rebounds in Notre Dame’s win over No. 22/21 Utah at the Duel in the Desert, before leading all players with 13 points and seven rebounds against Valparaiso. Schrader is third on the team in scoring (9.8 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (6.2 rpg.), as well as third in field goal percentage (.467).

Potent Notables About The Fighting Irish
• Notre Dame’s No. 12 ranking in the latest Associated Press poll represents the 26th consecutive appearance for the Irish in that survey, dating back to the start of the 2004-05 season. All told, Notre Dame has appeared in 135 Associated Press polls since the balloting debuted 30 years ago, with their first AP ranking (No. 25) coming on Dec. 31, 1990.
• With its No. 10 AP ranking on Dec. 5, the Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the media balloting at some point in seven of the past 10 years (including three of the past four seasons). Notre Dame has spent a total of 73 weeks in the AP top 10 during the program’s 29-year history and owns a 110-21 (.840) record when it’s ranked in the top 10.
• The Irish have won 57 of their last 60 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season. All three of the losses in that span have come against Big Ten Conference opponents (Wisconsin in 1996, Purdue in 2003, Michigan State in 2004).
• The Irish defense continues to be its calling card. In each of the past six seasons, Notre Dame has held its opponents to an average of less than 62 points per game, including a 56.8 ppg. mark last year, which ranked as the third-lowest opponent scoring average in school history and second-best of the Muffet McGraw era (55.8 ppg. in 2000-01). Thus far in 2005-06, the Irish are allowing opponents to score 58.7 ppg.
• The Irish have posted 39 wins over Top 25 opponents in the past eight seasons (1998-99 to present), most recently knocking off No. 22/21 Utah, 68-55 on Dec. 18 in the championship game of the Duel in the Desert (Gray Division) out in Las Vegas. In each of the past two years, Notre Dame has set a school record with seven regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Furthermore, since the start of the 2003-04 season, the Irish are 11-2 (.846) at home against Top 25 competition.
• Following Wednesday’s win over Valparaiso, the Irish have welcomed crowds of 5,000 or more fans to 69 of their last 71 home games. The only two blemishes on that mark came in the semifinals and finals of last year’s Preseason WNIT, because tickets for those games could not be included in the Notre Dame season ticket package and had to be purchased separately.
• Senior guard Megan Duffy was named a preseason All-American by three sources, has been cited on the preseason watch lists for both the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award, and was tabbed as one of the top five point guards in the nation by Duffy also was a preseason all-BIG EAST Conference selection, following up her first-team all-league citation last year.
• With a 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, Irish head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th coach in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to reach the 500-win mark. She also is the 10th Division I coach to earn her 500th victory prior to age 50. McGraw reached another milestone on Nov. 29 vs. Iona with her 700th career game as a head coach (she was credited with the win despite missing the contest due to an acute illness).

A Quick Look At Tennessee
With the amount of parity sweeping through the women’s college basketball world in recent years, Tennessee has remained one of the constant powers in the game, due in part to its large and constant influx of talent. The Lady Vols have eight letterwinners and three starters back in the fold this season from a club that went 30-5 and advanced to the NCAA Women’s Final Four a year ago before falling to Michigan State.

This season, UT (11-0) has risen to the No. 1 spot in both national rankings, thanks to a non-conference schedule that has seen the Lady Vols take down five ranked opponents (Michigan State, Maryland, Texas, Stanford and Temple). Like Notre Dame, Tennessee also has enjoyed good balance, with seven players averaging better than six points per contest.

In its last outing on Wednesday evening, UT rode an impressive defensive effort to a 75-50 victory at No. 22/21 Temple. The Lady Vols held the Owls to just 33.3 percent shooting and won the battle on the glass, 38-31 to secure the important road win. Redshirt freshman forward Candace Parker led the way with 16 points, shaking off the effects of a sprained ankle suffered early in the game.

Senior guard Shanna Zolman is Tennessee’s top scorer (and perhaps most improved player) this season, averaging 17.0 points per game behind a sharp .484 three-point percentage. Parker, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, is second on the squad in scoring (15.6 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (9.1 rpg.), along with a .555 field goal percentage.

Pat Summitt is in her 32nd season as the head coach at Tennessee, owning a 893-172 (.838) record that makes her the winningest basketball coach (men’s or women’s) in NCAA history. A winner of six national championships and a seven-time national coach of the year selection, Summitt is 12-0 all-time against Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame-Tennessee Series
Historically, Notre Dame has struggled against Tennessee, going 0-16 against the Lady Vols (0-6 in South Bend) since the series began back in 1983.

The Irish began playing Tennessee on an annual basis early in the 1983-84 season and continued facing one another at alternating home sites for the next 10 years. Following a one-year break, the teams met twice in 1996-97, with the Lady Vols handing Notre Dame its first and last losses of the season — 72-59 in the semifinals of the preseason WNIT at Ruston, La., and 80-66 at the NCAA Final Four in Cincinnati.

The Irish and Lady Vols would not meet again until the second round of the 2002 NCAA Tournament in Knoxville, when UT roughed up Notre Dame, 89-50. The two sides met the following December at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis (home of the WNBA’s Indiana Fever) with Tennessee emerging with a 77-61 victory. The 2003-04 season saw the most recent matchup between the teams, with UT coming away an 83-59 victor (see box score on page 4 of these notes).

Other Notre Dame-Tennessee Series Tidbits
• Tennessee has won all 16 games in the series by an average margin of more than 22 points, topping the 70-point mark in all but one contest. Meanwhile, Notre Dame has cracked the 70-point barrier four times against the Lady Vols, and has come within 10 points of UT three times. The closest margin in the series came on Jan. 12, 1992 at the Joyce Center, when the Lady Vols edged the Irish, 85-82.
• Tennessee remains the only opponent the Irish have never defeated with a minimum of five games played. The Lady Vols also are one of only five teams to have earned at least 10 victories over Notre Dame (the others are Connecticut – 17, DePaul – 14, Purdue – 14 and Rutgers – 12).
• Saturday’s game will be the sixth time both Notre Dame and Tennessee have been ranked at the time of their matchup. UT has won the five previous games by an average margin of 16.8 points.
• Between them, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw and Tennessee head coach Pat Summitt have accounted for nearly 1,400 wins and seven national championships. They also are two of only 10 coaches in NCAA Division I women’s basketball history to amass 500 wins before age 50 (McGraw joined that club back on Nov. 18 with a 55-45 win over Michigan).
• In an indirect way, the Irish can thank Tennessee for bringing senior guard Megan Duffy to South Bend. When Notre Dame faced the Lady Vols in the 1997 NCAA Women’s Final Four in Cincinnati, the 12-year-old Duffy (a native of nearby Dayton) was in the Riverfront Coliseum stands and was so impressed by the tenacity and inspired play of Muffet McGraw’s Irish against the high-powered UT squad (led by Chamique Holdsclaw) that Duffy immediately vowed she was going to attend Notre Dame and play for the Irish — even though she couldn’t officially sign her National Letter of Intent for another four and a half years.
• Notre Dame freshman guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett, Ill./Bartlett HS) and Tennessee redshirt freshman forward Candace Parker (Naperville, Ill./Naperville Central) are the two most recent Illinois Miss Basketball selections. Schrader garnered the award last year, succeeding Parker, who claimed the honor three consecutive seasons (2002-04). Prior to that, another BIG EAST player, Rutgers guard Cappie Pondexter earned Illinois Miss Basketball laurels in back-to-back seasons (2000-01).
• Schrader and Parker have been friends for several years, dating back to their grade-school days, when the pair were teammates on an AAU team coached by Parker’s father, Larry. The two young stars still chat regularly via e-mail and text messaging.
• Tennessee senior guard Shanna Zolman grew up in nearby Syracuse, Ind., and graduated from Wawasee High School as the all-time leading scorer in Indiana prep history (3,085 points). She also was selected Indiana Miss Basketball following her senior season in 2002.
• Tennessee head strength and conditioning coach Heather Mason spent five years on the staff at Notre Dame from 1998-2003. In addition, Mason’s two graduate assistants on the UT strength and conditioning staff are twins Jessica and Kristen Kinder, who were standout volleyball players for the Irish from 2000-03.
• The state of Tennessee has been home to just one Notre Dame women’s basketball player in the 29-year history of the program. Oak Ridge native Tricia McManus earned three monograms with the Irish from 1979-81, averaging 7.6 points and 6.0 rebounds in 80 career games (41 starts), and helping Notre Dame reach the round of 16 in the 1980 AIAW Small College National Tournament.
• Notre Dame is 4-17 (.190) all-time against other schools from the state of Tennessee, with a 2-6 (.250) record at the Joyce Center. However, the last time the Irish faced a team from the Volunteer State, they came away victorious, downing Middle Tennessee, 59-46, on March 23, 2004 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Last Time Notre Dame And Tennessee Met
Shyra Ely scored 20 points and Ashley Robinson added 14 in third-ranked Tennessee’s 83-59 win over No. 17 Notre Dame on Nov. 30, 2003 in Knoxville. The Lady Vols (2-0) led from the beginning while the Irish (2-3) struggled with shooting and defense.

Tennessee was ahead 20-7 with 11:35 left in the first half. Notre Dame cut the lead to 10, but the Lady Vols had a 13-2 run to push the lead to 21. Ely had two easy baskets during the spurt, which was capped by Loree Moore’s layup off a clever play by LaToya Davis.

Davis went for a steal off Irish senior guard Le’Tania Severe, and came up with the ball as they raced to the basket. Davis had to stop to get control of the ball and swiftly passed it to Moore, who was running toward the basket. Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw called timeout afterward.

Severe scored three straight baskets, but they didn’t help the Irish much because Ely blew by defenders for two more layups.

The Lady Vols went up 56-30 with 14:58 left after Tennessee’s Shanna Zolman hit two free throws. Zolman scored 13 points and Tasha Butts added 10 for the Lady Vols.

Notre Dame junior forward Jacqueline Batteast had a better game against Tennessee than the last but couldn’t make much of a difference. She finished had 16 points to lead the Irish. Irish sophomore guard Megan Duffy had two late 3-pointers to finish with 14 points and Severe added 13.

Batteast fouled out after scoring just two points in the teams’ last meeting, a 77-61 victory for Tennessee last December.

Notre Dame vs. The Southeastern Conference
The Irish are 6-26 (.188) all-time against the Southeastern Conference, although they have split their last six meetings with SEC schools. The last time Notre Dame played an SEC member was its last encounter with Tennessee on Nov. 30, 2003 in Knoxville (an 83-59 UT victory). The most recent Irish win over an SEC opponent was Nov. 14, 2003 at the WBCA Classic in Boulder, Colo., when Notre Dame defeated No. 22/25 Auburn, 77-64.

The Irish also have gone 2-9 (.182) against the SEC at home, with single victories over LSU (82-80 on Dec. 19, 1993) and Vanderbilt (77-63 on Jan. 4, 1990).

Ringing In The New Year
Notre Dame is playing on New Year’s Eve for the seventh time in program history, having posted a 5-1 (.833) record on Dec. 31. The Irish also have won their last five New Year’s Eve contests, most recently winning at Marquette, 75-68 in 2002.

Banner Battles
The 2001 NCAA champion Irish are 20-57 (.260) all-time in 10 series against other national titleists, wth .500 or better records against USC (7-1), North Carolina (2-0) and Texas (1-1). Notre Dame earned its most recent win over USC back on Nov. 27, downing the No. 24/21 Women of Troy, 73-62 at the Joyce Center.

Ranking File
The BIG EAST Conference owns a 4-5 record in non-conference play against nationally-ranked opponents this season. Notre Dame has claimed two of those four victories, defeating No. 24/21 USC (73-62) and No. 22/21 Utah (68-55). The other ranked non-league wins for the BIG EAST this season have come courtesy of Connecticut (def. No. 25/22 Oklahoma, 82-62) and DePaul (def. No. 22/23 Purdue, 65-54).

The BIG EAST had a chance for two more wins over Top 25 non-conference foes on Friday, as South Florida traveled to No. 3 LSU, and Rutgers played host to No. 19/23 Texas.

Running With The Top Dogs
Saturday’s game will mark the fifth time Notre Dame has welcomed a top-ranked opponent to the Joyce Center. The Irish are 1-3 (.250) in their previous five home games against a No. 1 team, most recently defeating Connecticut, 92-76 on Jan. 15, 2001, before a capacity crowd of 11,418.

Notre Dame is 2-10 (.167) all-time against top-ranked teams, with both victories coming vs. Connecticut in the 2000-01 season (also 90-75 at the NCAA Women’s Final Four in St. Louis).

Overall, the Irish are 21-24 (.467) when playing host to any ranked opponent, including wins in 11 of their last 13 outings, dating back to the start of the 2003-04 season.

Tennessee Game Sold Out
The University of Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office announced Dec. 12 that Saturday’s 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, came 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.

In The Light Of Day
Notre Dame has enjoyed playing in the afternoon this season, posting a 6-0 record in games when the tip comes before 6 p.m. local time. Dating back to last year, the Irish are 15-2 in day games, with their only two losses in that span coming at Villanova (59-54 on Jan. 9, 2005) and at No. 10 Rutgers (59-48 on Feb. 19, 2005).

When The Game Is On The Line …
The Irish have posted a .691 free throw percentage (38-of-55) inside the final two minutes of games this season. Leading the way is senior guard Megan Duffy, who has made 21 of her 22 foul shots (.955) in crunch time.

The Efficiency Expert
Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico pulled off a unique feat in Notre Dame’s 77-54 win over Arkansas State Dec. 17 at the Duel in the Desert in Las Vegas. D’Amico scored a career-high 20 points in only 18 minutes of court time, becoming the first Irish player to average better than a point per minute (min. 10 minutes) in a game since Dec. 21, 2002, when current senior Courtney LaVere had 20 points in 19 minutes vs. IPFW.

The Long Island Express
The Duel in the Desert on Dec. 17-18 in Las Vegas proved to be a coming-out party for sophomore center Melissa D’Amico. The Manorville, N.Y., native averaged 16.0 points and 6.5 rebounds with an astronomical .824 field goal percentage (14-of-17) en route to Most Valuable Player honors in the Gray Division (won by Notre Dame). D’Amico scored a career-high 20 points (10-12 FG) in the opener vs. Arkansas State, then came back with a team-high 13 points (4-5 FG) and seven rebounds in the championship game vs. No. 22/21 Utah.

D’Amico’s effort also was enough to make her the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week for Dec. 19, the first time she has been selected for that honor. She’s also the first Irish player to garner that award since Teresa Borton was chosen on Feb. 28, 2005.

Viva Las Vegas
Notre Dame made the most of its first-ever visit to Las Vegas, coming away with the Duel in the Desert (Gray Division) title on the strength of wins over Arkansas State (77-54) and No. 22/21 Utah (68-55). The championship was the fifth in the last six opportunities for the Irish, who also have now won 12 of their last 13 regular-season tournament games.

The Duel in the Desert crown was even more rewarding when you consider Notre Dame trailed for a grand total of 15 seconds the entire weekend (a one-point deficit midway through the second half vs. Utah). The Irish defense also played a pivotal role, holding ASU and Utah to a .286 field goal percentage and 54.5 points per game.

Second-Half Sizzle
In six of their nine victories this season, Notre Dame has used a significant second-half run to take control of the contest. In four of those instances (Michigan, Indiana, USC, Utah), the Irish trailed at some point in the final 11 minutes, but on the strength of their second-half run, rallied to take the win.

Starting Strong
The Irish got off to a 6-0 start for the second time in as many seasons, marking the first time in the 29-year history of the program Notre Dame has put together back-to-back 6-0 starts (the Irish began last year with a 7-0 record).

All told, Notre Dame has won the first six games of the season only four times, all in the Muffet McGraw era (and all in the past eight seasons beginning in 1998-99). In the three previous 6-0 starts, the Irish went on to win at least 25 games and reach the NCAA Tournament every time.

Game #10 Recap: Valparaiso
Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader scored 13 points as No. 12/11 Notre Dame beat Valparaiso, 58-50 on Wednesday at the Joyce Center.

Sophomore center Melissa D’Amico and senior forward Courtney LaVere each added 10 points for the Irish (9-1) in their first game after a 10-day holiday break. LaVere also set a career high with six assists.

Betsy Rietema scored 11 points and Tamra Braun 10 to lead Valparaiso (5-5).

Notre Dame had 19 turnovers, but held the Crusaders to 36 percent shooting. The Irish outscored Valparaiso, 38-14 in the paint and shot 50 percent from the field.

Schrader and sophomore guard Charel Allen each had seven rebounds as Notre Dame outrebounded the Crusaders 37-22.

The Irish reserves, led by LaVere and Allen, who had eight points, outscored the Crusaders’ 24-9.

Notre Dame led wire-to-wire, using a 10-0 early run to take a 12-2 lead and closing the half with a 9-4 run to fashion a 30-18 halftime edge. The Irish led by as many as 17 points in the second half and Valparaiso did not get the margin inside single digits until the waning moments of the contest.

Noting The Valparaiso Win
• Notre Dame is off to a 9-1 start for the fourth time in school history, all in the past eight seasons (also 1998-99, 2000-01 and 2004-05).
• The Irish now are 19-0 all-time against Valparaiso, the best record against one opponent in school history.
• Notre Dame has now held the Crusaders to 50 points or less in seven of their nine series meetings in South Bend.
• The Irish have trailed for a combined total of just 15 seconds in their last three games (a 39-38 deficit midway through the second half vs. #22/21 Utah on Dec. 18 in Las Vegas).
• The Irish defense has been stout in its last three wins, allowinig 53.0 ppg. with a .309 field goal percentage (50-of-162).
• Notre Dame held Valparaiso to an opponent season-low 22 rebounds, the fewest by an Irish foe since Feb. 12, 2005, when Georgetown collected only 21 boards in a 72-58 ND win at the Joyce Center.
• The Irish also limited the Crusaders to an opponent season-low 18 first-half points, the fewest since West Virginia also had 18 on March 6, 2005, in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Hartford, Conn. (a 70-59 ND win).
• Notre Dame has had three or more players score in double figures in nine of 10 games this season (all wins).
• Freshman guard Lindsay Schrader led the Irish in scoring for the first time in her career with 13 points, and she is the fourth different player to earn top scoring honors for Notre Dame this season (others are Charel Allen, Melissa D’Amico and Megan Duffy).
• Senior forward Courtney LaVere distributed a career-high six assists, one more than her previous best that she had set on two occasions (most recently on Nov. 12, 2004 vs. Illinois State at the Joyce Center in the first round of the Preseason WNIT).

A Double Cheeseburger For Schrader
A 2005 McDonald’s All-America selection who played in that elite all-star game back in March on her new home floor at the Joyce Center, freshman guard Lindsay Schrader felt right at home from the first moment she stepped into the historic venue, scoring nine points in that contest.

As if there was any doubt about her abilities, Schrader put them all to rest in the Nov. 18 season-opening win vs. Michigan, rolling up a double-double (10 points, 14 rebounds) in her first college game, which she started. Schrader is just the second Notre Dame player ever to record a double-double in her debut contest, and the first Irish player to do so since the program elevated to Division I status in 1980-81 (ND was an AIAW Division III program for its first three seasons). The only other career-opening double-double by a Notre Dame freshman came from Shari Matvey, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds in a 68-60 conquest of Marion on Nov. 30, 1979 at the Taylor Invitational in Upland, Ind.

Give Her Five (Hundred)
With Notre Dame’s 55-45 victory over Michigan on Nov. 18, head coach Muffet McGraw became the 27th women’s basketball coach in NCAA Division I history to reach the 500-win mark. McGraw now has a career record of 508-197 (.721) in 24 years of coaching, including 19 seasons at Notre Dame (420-156, .729).

Here’s a closer look at how that milestone victory breaks down for McGraw:
• She is the 10th NCAA Division I women’s basketball coach to register her 500th victory before turning 50 (her birthday was Dec. 5).
• McGraw is the fourth active coach in the BIG EAST Conference to reach the career 500-win mark, joining Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer, Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma and Villanova’s Harry Perretta.
• She is the third BIG EAST coach in as many seasons to celebrate her 500th win. Auriemma hit the milestone late in the 2002-03 campaign, while Perretta joined the club with his landmark victory midway through last season.

Join The Club
The Irish women’s basketball team became the sixth Notre Dame squad this year to be ranked in the top 10 in its respective sport at some point during the season when it earned the No. 10 spot in the Dec. 5 AP poll. The other top-10 Irish teams include (highest rank listed): women’s cross country (3rd), football (5th AP), men’s cross country (5th), women’s soccer (5th) and volleyball (7th).

In addition, all six of Notre Dame’s fall sports teams advanced at least as far as the round of 16 (or its equivalent) in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish cross country teams both finished among the top 10 at the NCAA Championships (men – 3rd; women – 7th), while the women’s soccer team advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals (lost at eventual champion Portland), and the men’s soccer squad made its first-ever trip to the Sweet 16 before bowing by a 1-0 count at College Cup participant Clemson.

The Irish volleyball team reached the round of 16 for the first time since 1997, falling to Wisconsin in five games down in College Station, Texas.

Meanwhile, the Notre Dame football team also is still in season, set to take on Ohio State in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Jan. 2 in Tempe, Ariz.

On the strength of their fall success to date, the Irish were first in the latest NACDA/USSA Directors’ Cup standings (released Thursday) with 355 points, outpacing Stanford (282) and Duke (280). The results from football (final result determined by ranking in ESPN/USA Today poll) and volleyball are yet to come, with the next ranking set to come out on Jan. 10.

Half And Half
During the past six seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 105-8 (.929) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 33 of their last 35 such contests. Notre Dame has opened this season by winning seven games after it led at the break (the Irish were tied at halftime of their win over USC).

The Best Offense Is A Good Defense…
During the past 11 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame’s first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 155-9 (.945) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame had added five more tallies to this ledger with wins over Michigan (55-45), Iona (74-55), Arkansas State (77-54), Utah (68-55) and Valparaiso (58-50).

…But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past decade (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 91-3 (.968) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998.

Sweet Success
Notre Dame is one of only nine schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past nine seasons (1997-2005). The others are Connecticut and Tennessee (nine times), Duke (eight times), Louisiana Tech (seven times), and Georgia, LSU, North Carolina and Texas Tech (six times).

The Gold Standard
The Irish are one of six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 12 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in this club are Tennessee (29), Texas Tech (16), Louisiana Tech (14), Old Dominion (14) and Connecticut (12).

Now That’s A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame’s success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 131 of their last 142 games (.923) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has a 76-8 (.905) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the ’02 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 57 of their last 60 non-BIG EAST contests (.950) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only three losses in that span all came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents — Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54) and Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT). The Purdue loss snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 281-72 (.796) record at the venerable facility. In three of the previous six seasons (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

Jammin’ The Joyce
Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in attendance each of the past five years, including a No. 16 rating in 2004-05 (5,830 fans per game). Notre Dame has averaged 5,916 fans in its four home games this season, and is tied with Texas for 11th in the latest unofficial national attendance rankings, released each Monday by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Office.

What’s more, each of the top 20 women’s basketball crowds in Joyce Center history have occurred during the 19-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present), with 19 of those 20 occurring in the past six seasons (2000-01 to present). Lastly, the Irish have attracted at least 5,000 fans to 69 of their last 71 home games, including 12 contests with at least 8,000 fans and the first two sellouts in the program’s history (both in 2001).

The third sellout in Notre Dame women’s basketball history is slated for Saturday, as all 11,418 tickets have been exhausted for the Irish matchup with No. 1 Tennessee at the Joyce Center. The game sold out 19 days in advance, making its the fastest sellout in the 29-year history of the program.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Notre Dame’s two seniors — guard Megan Duffy and forward Courtney LaVere — will serve as team captains for the 2005-06 season. Duffy is in her second year as a captain (making her the 16th two-time captain in school history, and 12th in the Muffet McGraw era), while LaVere is a first-time captain. Both players received the captain’s honor following a vote of their teammates prior to the season.

Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have nine of its regular-season games televised during the 2005-06 season. Highlighting this year’s television docket are six nationally-televised Irish women’s basketball contests, including three consecutive games on the ESPN family of networks during a 12-day span in mid-February.

This year’s TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 (and including games to date this year), Notre Dame has played in 62 televised games, including 37 that were broadcast nationally. Last year, the Irish had 17 games televised, with 10 being national broadcasts.

Notre Dame already is 2-0 in televised games this season. The Irish defeated both Western Michigan (71-68 on Nov. 20) and No. 24/21 USC (73-62 on Nov. 27) in contests broadcast live to a regional audience by Comcast Local (based in Detroit).

Six of the remaining seven televised games on the ’05-06 Notre Dame schedule all are slated for national broadcasts. The first of three Irish appearances on College Sports Television (CSTV) comes on Saturday, when Notre Dame plays host to Tennessee at 2 p.m. (EST). Notre Dame returns to the CSTV airwaves for a pair of January contests that will be part of the BIG EAST/CSTV Tuesday Game of the Week package. The Irish will welcome DePaul to the Joyce Center on Jan. 17, before visiting Rutgers on Jan. 24, and both games will tip off at 7:30 p.m. (ET). CSTV has aired eight Notre Dame women’s basketball games during the past three seasons, with the first being that network’s inaugural broadcast of any sport (a Feb. 2003 game at Connecticut).

The Irish then make three consecutive appearances on the ESPN family of networks, beginning with a Feb. 7 home game against Villanova that will be broadcast live on ESPNU. That game now will tip off at 6 p.m. (ET), one hour earlier than previously listed on some schedules. The following Sunday (Feb. 12), Notre Dame will travel to DePaul for a 4 p.m. CST (5 p.m. ET) game that will air on ESPN2 as part of that network’s “February Frenzy” split-national coverage designed to preview a similar coverage pattern for the NCAA Tournament. The Irish are back on ESPN2 on Feb. 19, when they play host to Connecticut in a 7 p.m. (ET) prime-time BIG EAST showdown at the Joyce Center. During the past five seasons, Notre Dame has appeared on the ESPN family of networks 24 times, averaging nearly five telecasts per year on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports”.

Notre Dame will make its final regular-season television appearance on Feb. 25, when it travels to new conference member Cincinnati for a 2 p.m. (ET) game that will air as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Network (RSN) package. Among the outlets scheduled to televise the game live are WHME-TV (Channel 46 in South Bend), Comcast Chicago, Comcast Local, Comcast Philadelphia and Madison Square Garden Network.

Notre Dame On The Airwaves
Once again this season, every Irish women’s basketball game (home and away) will air on the flagship stations of the Artistic Media Partners (AMP) Network — WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1580) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his sixth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics web site ( by subscribing to Fighting Irish All-Access, which gives listeners full multimedia access to a variety of Irish athletics events for only $6.95 per month.

Promotional Corner
Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356) or on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center. Please note — additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site ( for the latest information:
• Dec. 31 vs. Tennessee — Battle of the Elite/Kids’ New Year … halftime “countdown” to New Year’s for all children in attendance, highlighted by special surprise guest … New Year’s prize packs to first 5,000 fans (courtesy of WB25) … post-game autograph session with selected Irish players.

Next Game: St. John’s
The Irish will tip off their 16-game BIG EAST Conference schedule Wednesday when they visit St. John’s for a 7 p.m. (ET) tipoff at Carnesecca Arena. The Irish are 15-0 all-time against the Red Storm (7-0 in Queens), although last year’s 72-65 ND win was the closest of any game in the series to date.

Fresh off an WNIT appearance last year (the first postseason berth for the school since 1988), SJU (9-2, 0-1) has been receiving votes in the national polls this season, most significantly winning the Roger and Mildred White Invitational at Northwestern, with wins over Wake Forest and NU in early December.

St. John’s already has played one BIG EAST game this year, falling at league newcomer Marquette, 60-57 on Dec. 6. The Red Storm’s only other loss thus far came on Wednesday, a 105-57 setback at the hands of No. 2 Duke in the Surf & Slam Holiday Classic in San Diego. SJU was slated to take on Montana State Friday night in the consolation game of that tournament before returning home to face Notre Dame.

— ND —