Dec. 21, 2003
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-4)
vs. USC Women of Troy (3-4)
The Date and Time: Monday, Dec. 22, 2003, at 1 p.m. ET.
The Site: Joyce Center (11,418) in Notre Dame, Ind.
The Tickets: Still available by calling the Notre Dame Ticket Office (574-631-7356).
The Radio Plans: All Notre Dame games are broadcast live on WDND-AM (ESPN Radio 1620) and/or WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend with Sean Stires (play-by-play) and former Irish All-American and 2003 WNBA Finals MVP Ruth Riley (analysis). These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at www.und.com.
Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the USC game through the Notre Dame (www.und.com) and USC (www.usctrojans.com) athletics web sites.
Web Site: Notre Dame (www.und.com), USC (www.usctrojans.com).
WELL-RESTED IRISH PLAY FINAL GAME BEFORE CHRISTMAS HOLIDAY
For the only time in a 16-day stretch, Notre Dame will take the court when it plays host to USC Monday at 1 p.m. (ET) at the Joyce Center. The Irish have had the last nine days off for final exams and they will enjoy another week-long hiatus after facing USC, giving Notre Dame some well-deserved rest after playing seven times in the first 23 days of the season against one of the nation’s top-five schedules.
The Irish (4-4) are coming off a superb defensive performance in their last outing on Dec. 13, rolling over Dayton, 78-41 at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame raced out to a 26-0 lead, the best game-opening run in school history, and held the Flyers to an opponent record-low .050 field goal percentage (one for 20) and 11 points in the first half en route to the largest Irish win of the year.
Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast tossed in a game-high 13 points and added a season-best six assists for the Irish, while junior center Teresa Borton collected a season-high 13 points of six of seven shooting. Freshman forward Crystal Erwin contributed the best statistical effort of her young career, coming off the bench to tally 13 points.
USC (3-4) is looking to rebound from a tough 69-67 loss to No. 14 Colorado on Saturday night in Los Angeles. Ebony Hoffman and Eshaya Murphy scored a team-high 13 points each for the Women of Troy, who had a chance to tie or win a game on their final possession for the third time this year, but came up just short.
Notre Dame holds a 4-1 edge in the series with USC, including a 2-0 mark at the Joyce Center. The Irish also have won the last four games with the Women of Troy, including a 69-57 victory last season in Los Angeles.
A QUICK LOOK AT THE FIGHTING IRISH
Coming into this season, one of the bigger question marks surrounding Notre Dame was its perimeter play. The Irish figured to count on their post offense in the early part of the year while their outside shooting developed to fill in the void left by the graduation of Alicia Ratay. Yet, through the first six weeks of the season, it has been the Notre Dame backcourt that has sparkled while the posts have had difficulty getting on track.
Sophomore Megan Duffy (12.6 ppg., team-high 4.6 apg., .563 3FG%) is in her first season as the everyday point guard for the Irish and she already is showing signs of being a key cog in the Notre Dame offensive arsenal. After averaging only three points and 2.3 assists per game last year, the Dayton, Ohio, native has more than quadrupled her scoring output and she owns a team-best 1.50 assist/turnover ratio. In addition, she is showing offensive diversity, knocking down 18 of 32 three-pointers this season to rank 11th in the nation in three-point percentage. She also posted a career-high 25 points on Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin. Her ball handling skills have not diminished, as she handed out a career-high nine assists in Dec. 7 at Washington.
Senior captain Le’Tania Severe (8.3 ppg., 3.1 apg.) has slid over to the shooting guard position in place of Ratay and has filled in admirably thus far. While not putting up the three-point numbers Ratay had in her remarkable career, Severe is getting her points as a slasher, driving to the basket and creating havoc for opposing defenses. She also is second on the Irish with 1.6 steals per game and has been a vital piece of Notre Dame’s transition game. She collected a season-high 14 points in the loss to Colorado, earning a spot on the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team, before adding 13 points (on six of 10 shooting) on Nov. 29 at third-ranked Tennessee.
Senior guard Jeneka Joyce (5.0 ppg., team-high .588 3FG%) also has been a pleasant surprise this season. After missing more than 20 months with recurring leg injuries, Joyce returned to action Nov. 21 vs. Valparaiso and promptly drained all three of her three-point attempts. She then knocked down three more treys to begin the Michigan State game and ranks 15th in the BIG EAST with 1.67 three-pointers made per game this season. She now ranks fourth on the school’s career charts in three-point percentage (.395).
Junior forward and preseason All-American Jacqueline Batteast (15.5 ppg., 7.1 rpg., 1.75 bpg., two double-doubles) has lived up to her accolades this season, ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots. She was named to the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team on Nov. 15 after a superb weekend that included a career-high 27 points against 22nd-ranked Auburn. She then piled up back-to-back double-doubles vs. No. 20 Colorado (13p, 10r) and Valparaiso (15p, 10r) before logging team bests of 16 points and seven caroms at No. 3 Tennessee, 19 points at Washington and a game-high 13 points with six assists vs. Dayton. She now has 53 career double-figure scoring games, 21 career double-doubles and needs only 73 points to become the 20th Notre Dame player to score 1,000 career points.
Junior Katy Flecky (7.3 ppg., 2.8 rpg.) and sophomore Courtney LaVere (9.6 ppg., 6.4 rpg.) also have made important contributions at times this season. Flecky scored 17 points in the season-opening win over No. 22 Auburn, burying a trio of three-pointers in the win. However, she suffered a sprained right ankle in practice on Dec. 6 and is questionable for the USC game. Meanwhile, LaVere, a freshman All-American last season, has bounced back from an early-season bout of foul trouble. She tied Batteast for team-high scoring honors with 12 points at Michigan State before rising up and carding season highs of 22 points and nine rebounds vs. Wisconsin. She then added nine points and nine rebounds at Washington and is averaging 8.0 rebounds in her last four games.
A QUICK LOOK AT USC
USC has a solid blend of youth and experience this season with four starters and seven letterwinners returning to couple with seven newcomers. The Women of Troy are hoping that this mixture leads to the kind of success that brought the program back-to-back national championships in 1983 and 1984.
USC (3-4) has not backed down from tough competition early on this season, playing the nation’s 20th-ranked schedule, according to the most recent Sagarin/Collegiate Basketball News ratings. The Women of Troy have come agonizingly close to some marquee victories this season, having had a chance to tie or win games against New Mexico, top-ranked Connecticut and No. 14 Colorado. However, USC came up short in each game, losing those three contests by a combined total of nine points.
The Women of Troy had their two-game winning streak snapped on Saturday night with a 69-67 loss to Colorado at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. USC opened up a 12-point lead at halftime, but CU chipped away at the margin in the second half and eventually grabbed an eight-point advantage. However, the Women of Troy battled back and got within two points and had possession with 12 seconds remaining, but Rometra Craig’s off-balance jumper at the buzzer rimmed out. Ebony Hoffman and Eshaya Murphy both tallied a team-high 13 points for USC with Hoffman adding a game-best eight rebounds. The Women of Troy forced the Buffaloes into 24 turnovers, but CU shot 46.2 percent from the floor in the contest.
Hoffman leads USC in scoring (15.6 ppg.) and steals (3.1 spg.), while ranking second in rebounding (7.4 rpg.). Craig is the second-leading scorer for the Women of Troy at 11.3 ppg., while Meghan Gnekow sets the pace in the rebounding column (7.6 rpg.).
Head coach Chris Gobrecht is in her seventh season at USC, owning an 81-99 (.450) mark at her alma mater. She also has served as the head coach at Cal State Fullerton, Washington and Florida State, owning a career record of 413-302 (.578) in 25 seasons as a collegiate mentor. She is 0-5 all-time against Notre Dame (0-4 at USC, 0-1 at Washington).
THE NOTRE DAME-USC SERIES
Contrary to the long-standing rivalry Notre Dame and USC have had on the football field (they met for the 75th time in 2003), the two schools have a very short history on the hardwood. The Irish hold a 4-1 edge in the all-time series with the Women of Troy, including a 2-0 mark at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame has won the last four games in the series, including a 69-57 victory in their most recent encounter last season in Los Angeles (Nov. 29, 2002).
In their last meeting at the Joyce Center on Dec. 9, 2001, the Irish forced a season-high 27 turnovers and limited USC to just 22 first-half points en route to the win. Jacqueline Batteast scored a game-high 19 points, while Le’Tania Severe tossed in a (then) career-high 17 points for Notre Dame.
USC earned its only win over Notre Dame on Jan. 2, 1985, downing the Irish, 69-53 in a game played at Cal State Fullerton. Laura Dougherty scored 20 points and Trena Keys added 12 points for Notre Dame in a losing effort.
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND USC MET
No. 10 Notre Dame picked up a hard-fought 69-57 victory over USC on Nov. 29, 2002, at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. It was the fourth win for the Irish in five career meetings with the Women of Troy, but it didn’t come cheaply, as Notre Dame turned the ball over a season-high 29 times.
For the second consecutive game, the Irish had five players scoring in double figures, led by senior guard Alicia Ratay, who rang up 17 points on six of nine shooting. Sophomore forward Jacqueline Batteast collected her first double-double of the campaign with 14 points and a game-high 11 rebounds, while sophomore forward Katy Flecky came off the bench to contribute 13 points for the Irish, who shot 55.3 percent from the field and a solid 84.2 percent from the foul line in the victory.
Things didn’t appear rosy in the first half, as Notre Dame turned the ball over five times on its first six possessions and trailed 11-2 less than three minutes into the contest. However, the Irish righted the ship and eventually claimed a six-point lead later in the period before USC put together its own rally and took a 37-34 edge into halftime.
The second half was a study in Notre Dame defense, as the Irish clamped down and limited the Women of Troy to only 20 points and one basket over a critical six-minute stretch late in the period.
NOTRE DAME-USC CONNECTIONS
- Notre Dame has two California residents < sophomore=”” forward=””>Courtney LaVere (Ventura, Calif./Buena HS) and freshman forward Crystal Erwin (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./St. Paul HS) < on=”” its=”” roster.=”” lavere=”” and=”” erwin=”” are=”” only=”” the=”” fourth=”” and=”” fifth=”” notre=”” dame=”” players=”” ever=”” to=”” come=”” from=”” california,=”” joining=”” christy=”” grady=”” (lodi,=”” calif.),=”” kristin=”” knapp=”” (santa=”” barbara,=”” calif.)=”” and=”” mickey=”” skieresz=”” (westlake=”” village,=”” calif.).=””>
- Notre Dame junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and USC senior forward Ebony Hoffman both have been tabbed as players to watch for a variety of major national awards. Both were selected to the preseason watch lists for the Naismith Award, the WBCA/State Farm Wade Trophy and the John R. Wooden Women’s Award. In fact, Monday’s game has been termed a Wade Trophy Matchup of the Week by the WBCA.
- Longtime Notre Dame women?s volleyball head coach Debbie (Landreth) Brown was twice named the national player of the year while helping USC win the 1976 and ?77 national championships in women?s volleyball. She recently completed her 12th season with the Irish, piloting them to a share of their eighth BIG EAST Conference title in nine years. Her team also made its 12th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance earlier this month. Brown also is a four-time BIG EAST Coach of the Year (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003) and she received the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award in January 2003.
Notre Dame and USC have played just one mutual opponent this year < colorado.=”” both=”” teams=”” had=”” shared=”” misery=”” against=”” the=”” buffaloes,=”” dropping=”” heartbreaking=”” last-second=”” decisions=”” against=”” the=”” nationally-ranked=”” cu=”” squad.=””>
The Irish nearly tipped the Buffs on Nov. 15 in Boulder, falling 67-63 in overtime in the championship game of the WBCA Classic. Notre Dame jumped out to a 12-0 lead and led by five with less than a half-minute to play. However, CU hit a three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation to force the extra session and then hit another trey with 12 seconds left in OT for the victory.
USC had similar luck against Colorado in its most recent outing, falling 69-67 to the Buffs on Saturday night in Los Angeles. The Women of Troy had a 12-point halftime lead, but CU rallied to take an eight-point lead before USC clawed to within two points in the closing seconds. In the end, the comeback by the Women of Troy was thwarted when a potential game-tying jumper at the buzzer rimmed out.
NOTRE DAME AGAINST THE PACIFIC-10 CONFERENCE
The Irish have a limited history against the Pacific-10 Conference, posting a 13-14 (.481) record against the league all-time (6-3 at the Joyce Center). However, their recent history with the Pac-10 has been much better, as the Irish have won 10 of their last 12 games against that conference, dating back to a 93-72 loss at UCLA on March 18, 1992, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame has played six of the 10 Pac-10 member schools, holding .500 or better series records against Arizona (3-1), Arizona State (1-1), USC (4-1) and Washington (1-1). The Irish have never faced California, Oregon, Oregon State or Washington State on the hardwood.
Notre Dame defeated all three Pac-10 schools it played last year, winning at USC (69-57) and Arizona State (81-52) during the regular season before toppling Arizona (59-47) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Manhattan, Kan. That avenged one of only two Pac-10 losses the Irish have suffered in the past 11 years < arizona=”” won=”” at=”” the=”” buzzer,=”” 72-70,=”” on=”” nov.=”” 24,=”” 2001,=”” in=”” tucson.=””>
Monday’s game is the second of two for Notre Dame against the Pac-10 this season. Washington handed the Irish an 85-74 loss on Dec. 7 in Seattle.
ON THIS DATE
The Irish have played on Dec. 22 only twice in their history, winning on both occasions (both games were played at the Joyce Center). In 1989, Notre Dame edged UCLA, 61-60, as Krissi Davis tallied 19 points and eight rebounds, including the go-ahead leaner in the lane with 1:01 to play. Margaret Nowlin then bought some insurance by converting both ends of a one-and-one with 18 seconds left, allowing Notre Dame to survive a half-court heave by UCLA at the buzzer.
Most recently in 2001, the Irish defeated Marquette, 60-33, holding the Golden Eagles to a .185 field goal percentage and just 13 first-half points. Jacqueline Batteast posted the second of what would be five consecutive double-doubles, logging game highs of 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Irish. Amanda Barksdale added 10 points, eight rebounds and a (then) school-record eight blocked shots for Notre Dame.
IF NOTRE DAME WINS …
- Notre Dame will remain undefeated at home this season, moving to 4-0 at the Joyce Center.
- The Irish will even their all-time record against the Pac-10 Conference at 14-14, including a 7-3 mark at the Joyce Center.
- Notre Dame will pick up its 44th non-conference home win in its last 46 tries and rise to 102-9 (.919) at the Joyce Center over the last nine seasons (1995-96 to present).
- Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 368-142 (.722) in 17 seasons under the Golden Dome. She also will watch her career ledger improve to 456-183 (.714) in 22 years at the college level.
- The Irish will raise their all-time record to 532-241 (.688) in 27 seasons of varsity competition.
RECAPPING THE DAYTON GAME
Notre Dame evened its record at 4-4 on the season with a convincing 78-41 win over Dayton on Dec. 13 before a crowd of 6,059 fans at the Joyce Center. It was the eighth consecutive home win for the Irish and their 43rd non-conference home victory in the last 45 outings, dating back to the 1993-94 season. The 37-point margin was the largest in the 27-game series between Notre Dame and Dayton, and the 41 points scored by the Flyers were the fewest they have ever logged against the Irish.
Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast led a season-high four Notre Dame players in double figures with 13 points and a season-best six assists. Junior center Teresa Borton added a season-high 13 points, knocking down six of seven shots from the floor, and freshman forward Crystal Erwin turned in the best performance of her rookie campaign thus far, tallying 13 points and going seven of eight at the foul line (she was three for 11 at the charity stripe entering the contest). Senior guard Monique Hernandez also cracked double digits, matching her career high with 10 points.
This game was never in doubt as the Irish raced out to a 26-0 lead midway through the first half. It was the biggest game-opening run in school history and the 26 unanswered points tied for the second-longest unbroken scoring run in 27 seasons of Irish basketball. Notre Dame connected on 10 of its first 16 shots from the field, while Dayton misfired on its first 11 field goal attempts and turned the ball seven times in that stretch. After a 10:24 dry spell to begin the game, the Flyers got on the scoreboard when Cyndi Stull made two free throws. UD added its first (and only) basket of the opening period when Angela Cape hit a driving layup at the 8:59 mark.
Notre Dame steadily applied pressure and built its lead up to 44-6 on a Hernandez jumper with 4:37 remaining in the period. The Flyers wound up making nine of 13 free throws in the first half, but still trailed 47-11 at the break. It was the third-lowest point total for one half by an Irish opponent in school history, and it tied the lowest opponent mark ever at the Joyce Center (lowest in the NCAA Division I era). Dayton ended up setting another opponent record by shooting just five percent (one for 20) in the first half and turned the ball 18 times.
In the second half, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw emptied her bench, playing her reserves liberally and often sending out all three Irish freshmen and senior walk-on guard Anne Weese. Against the Notre Dame bench, Dayton held its own for the first eight minutes, holding the margin at 37 points and forcing seven consecutive turnovers at one stretch. However, the Irish steadied themselves and went on an 18-5 run over the next seven minutes, taking their largest lead of the day at 75-25 on Borton?s layup with 5:32 remaining. Dayton regained all of those points in the waning moments, ending the game on a 16-3 run that included all four of the Flyers? three-pointers in the contest.
NO CUPCAKES FOR THE IRISH
Notre Dame has quickly learned how it rates against the rest of the nation’s elite programs. The Irish wrapped up a brutal season-opening stretch that included playing five of their first seven games away from home, with all five road contests coming against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in both major national polls. Notre Dame already has defeated No. 22 Auburn (77-64), lost a narrow overtime decision at No. 20 Colorado (67-63) after leading much of the way in that game, before falling at Michigan State (92-63), third-ranked Tennessee (83-59) and Washington (85-74). Both MSU and UW were receiving votes at tipoff, but now are ranked in the Top 25 < michigan=”” state=”” is=”” 24th=”” in=”” the=”” latest=”” associated=”” press=”” poll,=”” while=”” washington=”” is=”” 24th=”” in=”” the=”” current=”” coaches’=”” poll.=””>
The tough early-season Irish schedule has not gone unnoticed by the national media. The latest Sagarin/Collegiate Basketball News ratings have pegged the Notre Dame docket as the fourth-toughest in the nation (through Dec. 20), while CollegeRPI.com has the Irish schedule ranked seventh-hardest in the land.
In actuality, all seven of Notre Dame’s non-conference road games are against teams that are presently ranked or receiving votes. The remaining out-of-conference road lineup includes trips to Colorado State (Dec. 29 – receiving votes) and Purdue (Jan. 4 – 8th in AP/10th in ESPN-USA Today).
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
Notre Dame put together one of the best defensive performances in school history on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton, rolling over the Flyers, 78-41 at the Joyce Center. In that game, the Irish held UD to just 11 first-half points, which matches the third-lowest mark in school history and equals the lowest opponent total ever at the Joyce Center (11 in the second half by Grace on Jan. 31, 1978 < pre-ncaa=”” era).=”” the=”” fewest=”” points=”” notre=”” dame=”” has=”” ever=”” allowed=”” in=”” one=”” half=”” is=”” seven=”” (first=”” half)=”” at=”” maryland=”” on=”” jan.=”” 9,=”” 1985.=”” the=”” irish=”” also=”” gave=”” up=”” just=”” 10=”” first-half=”” points=”” to=”” georgetown=”” on=”” march=”” 4,=”” 2001,=”” in=”” a=”” big=”” east=”” conference=”” championship=”” quarterfinal=”” game=”” at=”” storrs,=”” conn.=””>
Notre Dame also limited Dayton to an opponent record-low .050 field goal percentage (one for 20) in the first half, breaking the old Irish opponent record of .115 (three for 26), which had been set twice – in the first half of the aforementioned Maryland game, and by DePaul in the first half on Dec. 31, 2001 at the Joyce Center.
The Irish have often opened games in strong fashion, but nothing like what they turned out on Dec. 13 vs. Dayton. Notre Dame began the game on a 26-0 run, the largest game-opening surge in 27 seasons of Irish basketball. The previous record for the best start to a game was 17-0 vs. Texas Tech in the 2000 NCAA Mideast Regional Semifinal in Memphis.
The 26 unanswered points also tied for the second-longest run of consecutive markers by Notre Dame. The school record is 31 straight points, which the Irish achieved on Jan. 18, 1997 vs. Pittsburgh < notre=”” dame=”” trailed=”” 14-2,=”” but=”” went=”” on=”” a=”” 31-0=”” run=”” over=”” the=”” next=”” 13:14=”” to=”” seize=”” control=”” of=”” the=”” game.=”” the=”” irish=”” also=”” had=”” a=”” 26-point=”” spree=”” on=”” jan.=”” 31,=”” 1998=”” against=”” seton=”” hall,=”” turning=”” a=”” 56-29=”” score=”” into=”” an=”” 82-29=”” margin=”” over=”” a=”” 9:44=”” span=”” in=”” the=”” second=”” half.=””>
BATTEAST CLOSING IN ON 1,000-POINT CLUB
Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast needs only 73 points to become the 20th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. Batteast already is one of only five Irish players to have scored 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame and at her current 15.5 ppg. pace, she should reach the millennium milestone sometime next month. For her career, the South Bend native ranks sixth in school history with a 14.0 ppg. scoring average (927 points in 66 games).