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Women's Basketball Opens Three-Game Road Swing At Villanova

Jan. 11, 2002

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – After posting its biggest win of the season Wednesday night against Seton Hall, Notre Dame embarks on a three-game BIG EAST Conference road swing which begins Saturday with a noon (EST) contest at Villanova.

The Irish picked up their fourth consecutive win and seventh victory in the last eight games with a 79-45 triumph over Seton Hall Wednesday night. During its current four-game winning streak, Notre Dame (9-5, 3-0 BIG EAST) is shooting 52.7 percent from the field, led by its freshmen class which has averaged 50.5 points in the last two games.

In the wake of last season’s trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, Villanova has battled well this year, collecting a season-opening victory over Penn State and dropping narrow decisions to St. Joseph’s and Alabama despite losing its leading scorer, all-BIG EAST guard Trish Juhline for two months with a broken foot.

Villanova (8-5, 2-1) dropped its first conference game of the season Wednesday night, falling 62-49 at Providence. Nicole Druckenmiller scored 12 points and Mimi Riley added 10 points for the Wildcats, who struggled from the field, shooting just 35.2 percent in the loss.

Riley has been the sparkplug for the Villanova offense this season, leading the team with 11.8 ppg., 5.5 apg. and an .804 free throw percentage. Courtney Mix leads the Wildcats with 7.8 rebounds per game.

Harry Perretta is in his 24th season at Villanova, owning a 425-250 (.630) record with the Wildcats. He is 3-11 in his career against Notre Dame.

SCOUTING THE IRISH – Notre Dame looks to write a new chapter in its rapidly-developing history as the Irish defend their first NCAA championship in 2001-02. Seven monogram winners, including two starters, return from last season’s title-winning squad, giving head coach Muffet McGraw a broad foundation from which to build this year. In addition, the Irish welcome six talented freshmen to the fold, a group heralded as perhaps the finest recruiting class in school history and ranked as high as third by several national publications.

McGraw is in her 20th season as a college coach (15th at Notre Dame) with a 419-162 (.721) overall record and 331-122 (.731) mark while under the shadow of the Golden Dome. She has led the Irish to six straight NCAA Tournament appearances and eight overall – Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen four times, the Final Four twice and won the 2001 NCAA title, all in the last five seasons under McGraw’s guidance. She was a near-unanimous choice as national coach of the year in 2000-01, winning top honors from the Atlanta Tipoff Club (Naismith Award), Associated Press, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and Sports Illustrated for Women. She also was named the BIG EAST Coach of the Year, marking the third different conference to recognize McGraw as its top skipper since she took the reins at Notre Dame in 1987.

Both of Notre Dame’s returning starters were honored by the BIG EAST coaches in their preseason balloting. Senior guard/forward Ericka Haney (5.5 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) was a second team preseason all-conference pick and brings explosive quickness and versatility to the Irish lineup, along with veteran leadership. As Notre Dame’s only captain, she is being called upon to assume a greater mantle of responsibility in ’01-02. After starting the first six games for the Irish, she moved into a reserve role for the next four games, picking up her first double-double of the year with season highs of 12 points and 10 rebounds against Western Michigan. She returned to the starting lineup beginning with the DePaul game and is shooting 66.7 percent in conference play. Junior guard Alicia Ratay (13.4 ppg., 5.3 rpg., .444 3FG%) was a first team preseason all-BIG EAST choice and is one of 30 finalists for the Naismith Award after setting an NCAA record for three-point percentage (.547) by a sophomore last season. On Dec. 6 at Purdue, she became the 19th player in school history to score 1,000 career points. She ranks 12th in the BIG EAST in scoring and third in three-point percentage after logging 18 points Wednesday night against Seton Hall.

Joining Ratay in the backcourt is sophomore Jeneka Joyce (4.6 ppg., 1.9 rpg.), who has started the last two games at point guard for the Irish. Joyce ranks third on the team with a .375 three-point percentage. She earned her place in the starting lineup after coming off the bench to post nine points, four rebounds and four assists in the BIG EAST opener at Miami. Also spending time at the point is sophomore Le’Tania Severe (7.2 ppg., 3.7 rpg., 5.1 apg.), who was hampered by injuries last season, appearing in just 22 games. However, she has confidently taken a larger role in the Irish offense this season, scoring a career-high 17 points against USC and matching her career best with eight assists against Western Michigan. She also ranks seventh in the BIG EAST Conference in assists and 15th in free throw percentage (.629). In addition, Severe has posted a 3.25 assist-to-turnover ratio and 6.5 apg. since moving to a reserve role in the last two games. Junior Karen Swanson (1.2 ppg., 0.5 rpg.) and Jill Krause (0.3 ppg., 0.5 rpg.) give McGraw tremendous flexibility in her point guard rotation. Both players scored two points against Seton Hall, with Krause notching the first points of her career. Additionally, freshmen Allison Bustamante (4.5 ppg., 2.0 rpg.) and Kelsey Wicks (4.5 ppg., 3.2 rpg.) provide the Irish with solid ballhandling and perimeter shooting depth. Bustamante scored a career-high 11 points, making all four field goals and two three-pointers against Seton Hall, while Wicks posted a career-best 10 rebounds against the Pirates.

A pair of freshmen (and former Parade All-Americans) are making an immediate impact on the Notre Dame front line, as forward Jacqueline Batteast (15.1 ppg., 8.9 rpg.) and center Teresa Borton (7.1 ppg., 4.9 rpg.) started the first six games for the Irish. Batteast was named the 2001-02 preseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and her combination of speed, athleticism and perimeter shooting ability already make her a valuable weapon in the Irish arsenal. Already a four-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week, Batteast is one of only two players to rank in the top five in the BIG EAST in scoring (4th), rebounding (2nd), blocks (5th, 1.43) and double-doubles (2nd, 7), picking up her seventh double-dip at Miami with 12 points and 13 rebounds. She also poured in a career-high 26 points Saturday against Providence. Meanwhile, at 6-3, Borton is a smooth and versatile post player with excellent mobility and a solid defensive presence. She has provided strong production off the bench in her last four games, averaging 12.5 ppg. while shooting 84.6 percent (22-26) from the field, including .900 (18-20) in conference games. She tied a BIG EAST rookie record by going 7-of-7 from the field (15 points) against Seton Hall.

Junior Amanda Barksdale (4.2 ppg., 3.1 rpg., 3.5 bpg.) was one of the nation’s top shot blockers last season and has recovered nicely after missing Notre Dame’s first four games with a stress reaction in her right leg. She notched seven blocks against USC and tied a school record with eight blocks against Marquette – both outings are tops in the BIG EAST this season and the Marquette performance ties for the fifth-best showing in the nation this season. However, Barksdale does not yet appear in the overall conference rankings because she has not played in enough games to qualify. Still, her 2.3 bpg. ratio in BIG EAST play is good for second in the league. Meanwhile, freshman Katy Flecky (4.3 ppg., 3.3 rpg.) was a two-time Miss Colorado Basketball and offers the Irish an physical presence in the post. She scored seven points in Wednesday’s win over Seton Hall.

RECAPPING SETON HALL – Four days is a short time to learn lessons in college basketball, but in the case of Notre Dame, it proved to be long enough.

After nearly letting a 19-point lead slip away in Saturday’s win over Providence, the Irish jumped out to a similar advantage Wednesday night against Seton Hall. However, this time around, Notre Dame didn’t let off the gas, keeping the visiting Pirates at arm’s length the entire game and posting a 79-45 BIG EAST Conference win before 6,975 fans at the Joyce Center.

The victory extended Notre Dame’s home winning streak to 46 games, the longest active string in the nation. The Irish also picked up their 26th consecutive home win over a BIG EAST opponent and improved to 51-3 all-time against conference foes at the Joyce Center.

The Irish (9-5, 3-0 BIG EAST) earned their seventh win in the last eight games thanks to a season-high .580 field goal percentage (29-50) and a +20 edge (46-26) in the rebounding column. The Notre Dame bench also came alive in the victory, outscoring their Seton Hall counterparts by a whopping 47-11 count.

Junior guard Alicia Ratay led three Irish players in double figures with 18 points. Freshman center Teresa Borton continued to scorch the nets in conference play, tying a BIG EAST rookie record by going 7-of-7 from the field and scoring 15 points. In three league games this season, the Yakima, Wash., native is shooting 90 percent (18-20) from the field and is averaging 14 points per game.

Two other freshmen made significant contributions in the win. Rookie guard Allison Bustamante made all four of her shots from the field (including two three-pointers) and scored a career-high 11 points in 11 minutes. Meanwhile, freshman guard Kelsey Wicks tallied eight points and a career-best 10 rebounds in the victory. In fact, 11 of the 12 players in uniform scored for the Irish, including freshman guard Jill Krause, who notched her first career basket on a turnaround jumper with less than four minutes to play.

Charlene Thomas led Seton Hall with 13 points and Susan Murray added 12 points for the Pirates, who lost their 10th consecutive game to Notre Dame and fell to 8-6 this season (0-3 in the BIG EAST).

The Irish led virtually the entire way, shaking free from an early 2-2 tie and jumping to a 19-9 lead on a layup by Ratay with 9:20 remaining in the first half. Following a Seton Hall basket, Notre Dame put together a 14-2 run over the next six minutes, capped by a pair of Ratay free throws at the 3:18 mark. A short jumper by Borton in the waning moments of the period gave the Irish their biggest lead to that point (39-18) going into halftime.

Seton Hall tried to mount a charge to open the second half, scoring the first seven points and forcing Notre Dame to burn a timeout, leading 39-25 with 18:05 to play. However, that would be as close as the Pirates would get. Bustamante scored all 11 of her points and Borton added 10 markers as the Irish steadily built their advantage to a game-high 35 points (71-36) on a trey from Bustamante with 4:34 remaining.

THE NOTRE DAME-VILLANOVA SERIES – Notre Dame holds a 11-3 series advantage over Villanova, including a current six-game winning streak, the longest by either team in the series. The Irish also hold a slim edge over the Wildcats on the road, going 4-3 in seven career visits to Villanova.

The last time they met, Notre Dame downed the Wildcats, 64-33, on Dec. 6, 2000, at the Joyce Center in the BIG EAST Conference opener for both teams. The Irish put on a sparkling defensive performance against the visitors, holding Villanova to opponent season-lows of 20.3 percent (13-64) from the field and 5.6 percent (1-18) from the three-point line. Meanwhile, All-Americans Ruth Riley and Niele Ivey both used their conventional methods to notch double-doubles – Riley toiled in the post and picked up 14 points and 10 rebounds, while Ivey expertly guided the Notre Dame offense and charted 11 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and six steals. As a team, the Irish shot 46.6 percent from the field and owned a +17 (52-35) rebounding edge.

OTHER NOTRE DAME-VILLANOVA SERIES TIDBITS – The Irish have won the last four games in the series by an average of 25.3 points per game … the 31-point margin of victory in last year’s 64-33 win by Notre Dame is the largest spread by either team in the 14-game series … not only have all three of Villanova’s series wins come at home, but they also have featured three of the four lowest scoring games by Notre Dame in the series … the two head coaches are among the longest-tenured active skippers in the BIG EAST Conference. Villanova’s Harry Perretta has coached 675 games in 24 seasons with the Wildcats, while Notre Dame mentor Muffet McGraw has coached 581 games in 20 collegiate campaigns overall, guiding the Irish in 453 games over the last 15 seasons … this is the first of two meetings between the Irish and Wildcats. Villanova will visit the Joyce Center on Feb. 26 for a 7 p.m. (EST) Senior Night tipoff.

NOTRE DAME-VILLANOVA CONNECTIONS – Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is a native of Pottsville, Pa., and previously spent five seasons (1983-87) as the head coach at Lehigh, compiling a 88-41 (.683) record with the Engineers. She also was a four-year starter at point guard for St. Joseph’s, captaining the 1976-77 SJU squad to a 23-5 record and No. 3 national ranking. In four seasons with the Hawks, McGraw helped her team compile a 59-12 record, qualifying for the Eastern Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (EAIAW) tournament once and the AIAW national tournament once. Following graduation, McGraw coached two seasons at Philadelphia’s Archbishop Carroll High School, guiding her squads to a 50-3 record, including a 28-0 mark in her second campaign, when she led ACHS to the Catholic League championship and was named the league’s coach of the year. She later spent one season (1981-82) as an assistant coach at St. Joseph’s under Jim Foster (who is now the skipper at Vanderbilt).

THE BEASTS OF THE BIG EAST – Notre Dame is 92-15 (.860) in regular-season competition against the rest of BIG EAST Conference, owning the best conference winning percentage of any current member of the BIG EAST since joining the circuit for the 1995-96 campaign. The Irish also have won 48 of their last 53 regular-season conference games, and claimed a share of their first-ever BIG EAST regular-season championship in 2001. When including postseason competition (BIG EAST and NCAA tournaments), Notre Dame is 104-21 (.832) against league opponents – when factoring in these 18 postseason tilts, the Irish are 51-3 (.944) at home, 41-15 (.732) on the road and 12-6 (.667) at neutral sites all-time against BIG EAST foes.

BATTEAST EARNS FOURTH BIG EAST ROOKIE OF THE WEEK AWARD – For the fourth time this season, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast has been selected as the BIG EAST Conference Rookie of the Week, the league office announced Monday. Batteast, who earned top freshman honors for three consecutive weeks earlier this season (Dec. 3, 10 & 17), is only the second player in school history to win four BIG EAST Rookie of the Week citations in a single campaign. Junior guard Alicia Ratay took home six rookie awards during the 1999-2000 season.

Batteast averaged 21.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game and notched two double-doubles as Notre Dame collected three consecutive wins last week, including BIG EAST triumphs over Miami and Providence. She opened the week by recording career highs of 25 points and 14 rebounds in a 79-50 Irish win over DePaul on New Year’s Eve. Two days later at Miami, Batteast registered her seventh double-double of the year (and fifth in as many games) with 12 points and 13 rebounds as Notre Dame posted a 69-65 win at Miami in their conference opener. On Saturday, Batteast narrowly missed her eighth double-double, pouring in a career-high 26 points (breaking the high-water mark she had set just six days earlier) and grabbing nine rebounds in Notre Dame’s 72-66 win over Providence. Against PC, Batteast also canned a career-high 11-of-12 free throws.

For the season, Batteast ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in scoring (15.1 ppg.), second in rebounding (8.9 rpg.), fifth in blocked shots (1.43 bpg.) and second in double-doubles (7), one of only two players to place in the top five in all four categories. She also is the only BIG EAST freshman to lead her team in both scoring and rebounding.

HOW ABOUT THEM APPLES? – The state of Washington is famous for its apples. But in the eyes of Irish fans, the Evergreen State is becoming known for another export – freshman center Teresa Borton.

The Yakima, Wash., native has been a force in the last four games, coming off the bench to average 12.5 points per game and an .846 field goal percentage (22-26) while sparking Notre Dame to four consecutive victories and three BIG EAST Conference triumphs. In fact, BIG EAST play certainly has agreed with Borton, who ranks second on the team with 14.0 ppg. in league games and is shooting a staggering 90 percent (18-20) from the field.

The last two games have been the finest of Borton’s young career. She scored a career-high 20 points (9-11 FG) on Jan. 5 against Providence, then tied a BIG EAST rookie record by going 7-of-7 from the field and scoring 15 points Wednesday against Seton Hall.

And, in a interesting twist, Borton’s recent run of success has coincided exactly with her 19th birthday, which she celebrated four games ago on Dec. 31 against DePaul!

ROOKIE RAMPAGE – Notre Dame fans have gotten a preview of things to come over the next four seasons in the last two games. The Irish freshman class has accounted for 50.5 points and 19.0 rebounds, and is shooting 59.7 percent (37-62) from the field in wins over Providence and Seton Hall.

The latest surge began on Jan. 5 in Notre Dame’s 72-66 win over Providence. The Irish freshman class, namely forward Jacqueline Batteast, center Teresa Borton and guard Kelsey Wicks, combined for 55 points in the victory, with all three posting career-high point totals – Batteast had 26 points, while Borton tossed in 20 markers and Wicks added nine points. The trio also scored 44 of Notre Dame’s first 46 points (including 41 in a row at one stretch), and single-handedly sparked a 22-2 run over a 7:36 span which gave the Irish a 42-23 lead late in the first half.

The run continued Wednesday night in a 79-45 win over Seton Hall, as all six Irish rookies cracked the scoring column for the first time this season. The sextet teamed up for 46 points and shot 60.7 percent (17-28) from the floor in the victory. Center Teresa Borton and guard Allison Bustamante led the way for the Notre Dame newcomers – Borton tied a BIG EAST Conference rookie record by going 7-7 from the field and scoring 15 points, while Bustamante scored a career-high 11 points and made all four of her field goal attempts (2-2 from three-point land) in just 11 minutes of action.

BIG EAST = BIG NUMBERS – Notre Dame has stormed from the gate in BIG EAST Conference play, racing to a 3-0 start behind some gaudy numbers. The Irish are averaging 73.3 points per game (more than six points better than their 67.1 ppg. season average) and have scored at least 69 points in all three games after reaching that mark just four times in 11 non-conference tilts. Notre Dame also is shooting a sparkling 53.1 percent (77-145) from the field and 45.7 percent (21-46) in BIG EAST games, exceeding its season averages in those categories as well.

Two freshmen have stepped forward to ignite the Irish attack during conference play – center Teresa Borton and guard Allison Bustamante. Borton is averaging 14.0 ppg. and shooting 90 percent (18-20) in league action, while Bustamante is logging 6.3 ppg. and shooting 87.5 percent (7-8) from the field and 80 percent (4-5) from beyond the three-point arc against BIG EAST opponents. Borton also set a conference rookie record by going 7-for-7 from the floor Wednesday night against Seton Hall, while Bustamante scored a career-high 11 points in 11 minutes against the Pirates.

THE 45-PERCENT SOLUTION – The Irish appear to have found their shooting eye of late, connecting at a 52.7 percent rate from the field (108-205) over their last four games. In its first 10 games, Notre Dame had shot better than 45 percent just once and owned a .409 field goal percentage. However, in their last four contests, the Irish have topped the 45-percent mark each time, including a season-high .580 field goal percentage (29-50) Wednesday night against Seton Hall. Notre Dame is 5-0 when it shoots over 45 percent from the field and 9-3 when it owns a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.

IRISH BREAK OUT LONG-RANGE ARTILLERY AT MIAMI – Notre Dame put together a record-setting performance from the three-point line in its Jan. 2 win at Miami. The Irish connected on 13-of-24 (.542) three-point attempts in the game, setting a school record for the most triples in one game. The old mark was 12 against St. John’s on Feb. 28, 1998 in the first round of the BIG EAST Conference Championship at Piscataway, N.J.

FOR ALL LONG DISTANCE CALLS, DIAL “22” – On Jan. 2 at Miami, junior guard Alicia Ratay showed why she is still one of the nation’s premier sharpshooters and has earned the nickname “Dead Eye Ratay.” The Lake Zurich, Ill., native canned seven of nine three-point field goal attempts (a sharp .778 percentage) and finished with a season-high 23 points to lead the Irish to a victory in their BIG EAST Conference opener. The seven treys tied Ratay’s career high – she went seven for seven from beyond the arc on Feb. 19, 2000 at Rutgers, a memorable game in which she nailed two threes in the final 25 seconds of regulation to force overtime, where Notre Dame prevailed, 78-74.

Ratay leads the Irish, ranks third in the BIG EAST and 24th in the nation with a .444 three-point percentage (28-63). Her current ratio also puts her within striking distance of the NCAA record for three-point efficiency by a junior – Cara Frey of Harvard currently holds that mark with a .515 percentage in 1993. All of this comes on the heels of Ratay’s effort last season, when she nailed 54.7 percent of her three-point tries, breaking the NCAA record for long-range efficiency by a sophomore.

In her career, Ratay is making better than half of her long-distance attempts, hitting at a 50.1 percent clip (182-363) in her 82-game college career – that is good enough to set a new NCAA record for career three-point percentage, passing the current standard of .467 held by Erin Maher of Harvard. She already ranks fourth in Notre Dame’s career three-point field goals made and attempted lists, and her career percentage is nearly 80 points higher than her nearest challenger (Kari Hutchinson, .424, 1994-98).

TAKING A DEFENSIVE STANCE – One of the trademarks of Notre Dame’s success this season has been its suffocating defense. In fact, over the course of three consecutive home games in December, the Irish put together three dominating defensive performances which rank among the best in recent memory.

Against Western Michigan, Notre Dame held the Broncos to a season-low 12 points, the fewest first-half markers by an Irish opponent since Georgetown scored 10 points in the 2001 BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals. Then, against Marquette, the Irish held the Golden Eagles to a season-low 33 points and 18.5 percent shooting from the field (10-of-54), marking Notre Dame’s best defensive field goal percentage since it held Butler to a school-record .149 ratio (9-of-61) on Jan. 30, 1984. Finally, against DePaul, the Irish limited the Blue Demons to 3-of-26 (.115) shooting and just 17 points in the first half. Additionally, in both the Marquette and DePaul games, Notre Dame held its Conference USA opponent without a field goal for the first 11 minutes of the contest.

IT’S BATTEAST, TO SAY THE LEAST – Although her college career is only 14 games old, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast already is showing much of the potential which led the BIG EAST Conference coaches to vote her as the league’s preseason Rookie of the Year. The South Bend, Ind., resident is a four-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week selection and is one of only two players to rank in the top five in the conference in scoring (4th, 15.1 ppg.), rebounding (2nd, 8.9 rpg.), blocked shots (5th, 1.43 bpg.) and double-doubles (2nd, 7th). She also is the only BIG EAST rookie to lead her team in both scoring and rebounding.

Prior to leaving Wednesday’s game with Seton Hall with a mild ankle injury, Batteast had been especially strong in her previous six games, averaging 19.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game while compiling five double-doubles and four 20-point performances. On Jan. 5 against Providence, Batteast added a career-high 26 points and grabbed nine rebounds as the Irish opened their BIG EAST home slate with a win over the Friars.

BARKSDALE’S BLOCK PARTY – Junior center Amanda Barksdale has forced opponents to deal with rejection quite often this season. Although she missed Notre Dame’s first four games with a stress reaction in her leg, she still leads the Irish with 3.5 blocks per game (35 rejections). In fact, she would lead the BIG EAST Conference in that category by more than one block per game, but she has yet to play in enough games to qualify for the conference rankings. Nevertheless, she was at her best last month, when she rang up a school-record eight blocks against Marquette on Dec. 22 and added seven rejections against USC on Dec. 9. Those single-game performances rank first and second in the BIG EAST and the Marquette outing is tied for the fifth-best total in the nation this season.

In her career, Barksdale has 127 career blocks, making her only the fifth player in school history to reach the century mark in career rejections. With her five blocks on Jan. 5 against Providence, she passed Trena Keys (124) for fourth place on Notre Dame’s career blocks list. In addition, she is averaging 1.74 blocks per game in her 73-game career, which is second in Irish history behind only 2001 consensus national player of the year, Ruth Riley, who averaged 2.82 swats per game from 1997-2001.

NOTRE DAME AMONG NATIONAL ATTENDANCE LEADERS – Notre Dame is ranked seventh in the nation, according to the latest unofficial attendance figures released Monday by the University of Wisconsin Sports Information Department. The Irish have averaged 7,407 fans for their eight home games, more than 1,000 ahead of last season’s figures, when Notre Dame was ranked ninth in the country in attendance with an average of 6,376 fans per game.

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK – With six freshmen making up half of this year’s roster, Notre Dame is certainly going through some growing pains. However, the Irish rookies are getting a great deal of college experience this season, as evidenced by their production through 14 games of the 2001-02 campaign. Notre Dame’s freshmen have accounted for 48.7 percent of the points (458 of 940), 48.1 percent of the rebounds (292 of 607) and 39.9 percent of the minutes (1118 of 2800) recorded by the Irish this season. Additionally, Notre Dame started two freshmen (Jacqueline Batteast and Teresa Borton) in its first six games this year, and four of the six Irish rookies are averaging at least 12 minutes per contest.

A SEVERE DEVELOPMENT – Sophomore guard Le’Tania Severe has quickly adapted to her new role as a primary point guard for the Irish, filling the large shoes of All-American Niele Ivey. Through 14 games this season, Severe is third on the team with 7.2 points per game and leads the squad with 5.1 assists per game, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST Conference in the latter category. Entering the 2001-02 campaign, her career highs were seven points and two assists and she had played in just 22 games due to injury.

Severe has been adept at distributing the ball to her teammates, leading the team in assists in 11 games and dealing at least five assists eight times, including a career-high eight handouts against Purdue and Western Michigan. She also has proven to be a scoring threat when necessary, pouring in a career-high 17 points against USC and reaching double figures five times this season.

In her last two games, Severe has turned out to be highly effective coming off the bench. The Pembroke Pines, Fla., native has averaged 6.5 assists per game and has posted a sterling 3.25 assist-to-turnover ratio (13:4) in that time!

CRASHING THE BOARDS – Despite losing its top two rebounders from last year (Ruth Riley and Kelley Siemon), Notre Dame doesn’t appear to have broken stride in the rebounding department this season. The Irish have averaged 43.4 rebounds per game through 14 games in 2001-02, owning a +7.9 edge on the glass, which ranks 31st in the nation according to the latest NCAA statistical reports.

Leading the charge on the boards for Notre Dame have been a pair of freshmen – forward Jacqueline Batteast is setting the pace at 8.9 rebounds per game (ranking second in the BIG EAST Conference), while center Teresa Borton is tied for third with 4.9 caroms per contest. Additionally, the Irish have been potent on the offensive glass, collecting 14.1 offensive rebounds per game. Batteast and Borton also are setting the pace in that category – Batteast has 40 offensive boards (2.86 orpg.), ranking seventh in the BIG EAST, while Borton has corralled 33 offensive caroms (2.36), tying for 15th in the conference.

THE BEST OFFENSE IS A GOOD DEFENSE … – Over the last five-plus 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 94-1 (.989) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Curiously, the only time that notion didn’t come to pass was last season, when Rutgers handed Notre Dame a 54-53 loss, one of only two setbacks the Irish suffered en route to the 2001 national championship.

The Irish already have added to this total seven times during the 2001-02 season – Valparaiso (35 points), Army (57), USC (49), Western Michigan (48), Marquette (33), DePaul (50) and Seton Hall (45).

… 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. Over the last five-plus seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 80-3 (.964) 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. Notre Dame contributed another win to that growing record when it rang up 89 points in a win over Army on Nov. 26.

NOTRE DAME MAKING A LIVING BEYOND THE ARC – The season-opening win over Valparaiso produced an offensive anomaly for Notre Dame. The Irish were held without a three-point field goal, breaking a streak of 50 consecutive games in which they had made at least one trey. Prior to that game, the last time Notre Dame had gone dry from beyond the arc was Jan. 26, 2000, at St. John’s.

Notre Dame didn’t waste time in starting up a new three-point streak, canning 80 triples in their last 13 games (6.15 per game), including a school-record 13 treys at Miami on Jan. 2. The Irish have now made at least one three-pointer in 159 of their last 161 games, a streak which stretches back more than four seasons.

FRESH FACES IN THE IRISH LINEUP – Notre Dame had a decidedly youthful look in its starting lineup when it opened the season Nov. 18 against Valparaiso, as freshmen Jacqueline Batteast and Teresa Borton got the nod at forward and center, respectively. In doing so, the pair were first rookie tandem in 20 years to start a season opener for the Irish – Ruth Kaiser and Mary Beth Schueth cracked the starting five in a 78-44 win over St. Joseph’s (Ind.) on Dec. 2, 1981. Borton paced the Irish with 14 points and nine rebounds against Valparaiso, while Batteast scored two points and grabbed five boards against the Crusaders.

McGRAW REACHES COACHING MILESTONE AGAINST DEPAUL – Muffet McGraw coached her 450th game at Notre Dame on New Year’s Eve against DePaul. She owns a 331-122 (.731) record in her 15th season with the Irish, making her the winningest coach in school history and fourth on the BIG EAST Conference career wins list behind Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma (442), Rutgers’ Theresa Grentz (434) and Villanova’s Harry Perretta (425).

In addition, McGraw is the sixth coach to work 450 games at a BIG EAST Conference school. Three of those coaches are still active in the league – Perretta (675), Auriemma (540) and Seton Hall’s Phyllis Mangina (471). Grentz (584) and Virginia Tech’s Carol Alfano (540) are the other BIG EAST mentors who reached that milestone.

THE END OF ONE STREAK … – For the first time since the end of the 1997-98 season, Notre Dame was not ranked in either of the major national polls on Dec. 3. The exclusion snapped a 60-week run in the ESPN/USA Today poll and a 56-week stretch in the AP rankings. This week, the Irish earned 11 points in the Associated Press poll and three points in the ESPN/USA Today poll.

… BUT THE CONTINUATION OF ANOTHER – Thanks to Kent State’s loss at home to Rhode Island on Dec. 1, Notre Dame now owns the longest active home winning streak in the nation at 46 games. The Irish have not lost a game at the Joyce Center since Dec. 8, 1998, when Connecticut logged a 106-81 victory. Notre Dame’s home winning streak next will be put to the test Jan. 26 when the Irish play host to nationally-ranked Virginia Tech in a 6 p.m. (EST) contest at the Joyce Center.

RATAY NAMED NAISMITH CANDIDATE FOR SECOND CONSECUTIVE YEAR – Notre Dame junior guard Alicia Ratay has been selected as a preseason candidate for the 2001-02 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Award. It marks the second time in as many seasons that Ratay has been named to the 30-player preseason Naismith watch list.

Ratay averaged 12.9 points and 5.1 rebounds per game last season, and set an NCAA record for three-point percentage (54.7 percent) by a sophomore on the way to third-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors – she was the only sophomore to make any of the three all-league squads. Ratay also is a former BIG EAST Rookie of the Year and was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press in 2000. She will be looking to follow in the footsteps of her former teammate, Ruth Riley, who won the 2000-01 Naismith Award, becoming the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to be so recognized.

The Naismith Awards, in their 34th year, are given in honor of the inventor of the game of basketball – Dr. James Naismith. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The Awards, including Men’s and Women’s College Player of the Year, Men’s and Women’s Coach of the Year, Male and Female Prep Player of the Year and Men’s and Women’s Official of the Year, are determined by a vote of the Naismith Board of Selectors. In addition, the Board of Selectors, comprised of a select group of leading basketball coaches, journalists and administrators, honors a Men’s and Women’s Outstanding Contributor to Basketball. The 2001-02 Naismith Award will presented April 5, 2002 in Atlanta.

NOTRE DAME PICKED SECOND IN BIG EAST PRESEASON BALLOTING – Fresh off a share of their first-ever BIG EAST championship last season, the Irish have been picked to finish second in 2001-02 according to a preseason poll of the league’s coaches which was released at BIG EAST Media Day on Oct. 25. Notre Dame claimed two first-place votes and 155 points overall, trailing only Connecticut (11 first-place votes, 167 points). Rutgers, Boston College and Villanova round out the top five, with VU picking up the remaining first-place vote.

Individually, junior guard Alicia Ratay was a first team preseason all-BIG EAST selection after earning third-team honors last year. The Lake Zurich, Ill., native set an NCAA record for three-point percentage by a sophomore last season (.547) and is the top returning scorer for the Irish in 2001-02 after charting 12.9 points per game a year ago.

Senior guard/forward Ericka Haney also was recognized by the conference coaches, earning second team preseason all-BIG EAST laurels. She joins Ratay as one of two starters back from last year’s NCAA championship squad and averaged 11 ppg. and 5.7 rpg. during the ’00-01 campaign.

In addition, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast was chosen as the preseason BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. It was one in a series of early-season honors for the South Bend, Ind., product, who also was named a first team freshman All-American by the Women’s Basketball News Service and was tabbed as one of the Top 21 “New Players of Impact” by Women’s College

OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN – This season, for only the fourth time in school history, Notre Dame has just one captain – senior guard/forward Ericka Haney. She is the first solo captain for the Irish since Sheila McMillen in 1998-99 and the second in head coach Muffet McGraw’s 15-year tenure.

IRISH HAIL FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA – The 13 players on this season’s Notre Dame roster hail from 10 different states, including two each from Florida, Illinois and Ohio. Other states represented on the Irish roster include Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wyoming. The all-time Notre Dame women’s basketball roster features players from 34 different states, including 23 during the Muffet McGraw era. Ironically, the most common home state on the Irish all-time roster – Michigan (14) – is not represented on this season’s roster.

FUN WITH NUMBERS – This season, Notre Dame fans are seeing a pair of jersey numbers on the floor that haven’t made an appearance in quite some time. Freshman guard Kelsey Wicks has chosen to wear No. 24, becoming the first Irish player since Andrea Alexander (1990-94) to sport those digits. In addition, freshman forward Jacqueline Batteast is wearing No. 21 this season, a number which has not been modeled by an Irish player since All-American Beth Morgan wore the same jersey from 1993-97. Prior to Morgan, the last Notre Dame player to wear No. 21 was current Irish assistant coach Coquese Washington, who had the number from 1989-93.

NOW THAT’S A HOME COURT ADVANTAGE – Notre Dame is looking to continue some impressive streaks in 2001-02. The Irish have won a school-record 46 consecutive games at home, which became the longest active streak in the nation when Kent State’s 43-game run came to an end Dec. 1 with a loss to Rhode Island. The Irish have not lost at home in more than three years, dating back to a defeat at the hands of top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 8, 1998. Notre Dame also has a 51-3 (.944) record in BIG EAST games at the Joyce Center, with Connecticut the only league team to solve the Irish at home.

In addition, Notre Dame sports a five-year, 29-game non-conference winning streak at the Joyce Center – a streak that includes victories over a trio of sixth-ranked teams (UCLA and Duke in 1998-99 and Purdue in 2000-01), as well as 25th-ranked Illinois in ’98-99. Notre Dame’s last non-conference loss at the Joyce Center came way back on Dec. 9, 1996, when 19th-ranked Wisconsin toppled the Irish, 81-69. Overall, the Irish are 71-2 (.973) at the Joyce Center in their last 73 home games, with the only losses coming to Connecticut.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, sporting a 234-65 (.783) mark at the venerable facility. Last season, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 for the second year in a row. The 15 victories are a school record for home wins in a season and the first time Notre Dame teams have been undefeated at home during the regular season. Also, since joining the BIG EAST Conference in time for the 1995-96 season, Muffet McGraw’s squad is 84-4 (.955) at the Joyce Center.

SEASON TICKET SALES REACH ALL-TIME HIGH FOR IRISH – Attendance at Notre Dame women’s basketball games in 2000-01 increased nearly 88 percent compared to the previous season – and indications suggest another significant jump is underway for the 2001-02 campaign. Coming off the 2001 NCAA championship, there have been more than 6,700 season tickets sold to the general public and University faculty and staff for the ’01-’02 women’s basketball season. That’s compared to 2,700 a year ago and 940 in 1999-2000- a jump of nearly 150 percent over last season, and a whopping 700 percent rise in just two years.

The sale of season tickets for the ’01-02 campaign actually began midway through Notre Dame’s 2001 championship season. All seats are reserved for Irish women’s games for the first time this season – all seating in previous years had been general admission.

The Irish ranked ninth nationally in attendance last year at 6,376 fans per game, compared to 3,392 in 1999-2000. Notre Dame also recorded the first two women’s basketball sellouts in school history, as 11,418 fans packed the Joyce Center for victories over top-ranked Connecticut and Georgetown.

All seven of Notre Dame’s home games in 2001-02 have attracted more than 6,900 fans, placing them among the top 20 crowds in school history (see chart on page 9). In fact, all of the top 20 crowds in the Notre Dame record book have occurred during the 15-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw.

NOTRE DAME FACES TOUGH SCHEDULE IN 2001-02 – Notre Dame is slated to play 10 teams which reached the postseason as part of a rugged schedule this year. On the docket are seven NCAA Tournament squads, including four (Connecticut – 1/1, Purdue – 13/14, Michigan – 22/20 and Colorado State – 23/23) which are ranked in the Top 25 in both the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls. In addition, the BIG EAST Conference holds down the No. 24 ranking in both surveys – Boston College has the spot in the AP poll and is receiving votes in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll, while Virginia Tech got the nod in the coaches’ balloting and is earning votes in the AP ranking. Furthermore, three other Irish opponents (DePaul, Miami and USC) are receiving votes in one or both of the major polls this week.

IRISH ON THE SMALL SCREEN – Notre Dame is getting a good deal of face time in 2001-02, playing on television at least eight times, including a pair of nationally-televised contests – Nov. 21 at Arizona (Fox Sports Net) and Jan. 21 at Connecticut (ESPN). The Irish also will make two regional television appearances this season – Jan. 2 at Miami (Fox Sports Florida) and Feb. 2 at Seton Hall (CN8, The Comcast Network).

In addition, Notre Dame will appear three times as part of the BIG EAST regular-season television package, playing host to Virginia Tech (Jan. 26) and traveling to Villanova (Jan. 12) and Rutgers (Feb. 16). All three of those games will be telecast live on Fox Sports Chicago as part of the league’s TV deal. The BIG EAST Championship semifinals on March 4 also will be aired on the BIG EAST TV package, while the conference title game on March 5 will be broadcast live on ESPN2.

Additionally, the Dec. 6 rematch of the 2001 NCAA championship game between Notre Dame and Purdue was televised live statewide by LeSea Broadcasting, which includes WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and WHMB-TV (Channel 40) in Indianapolis.

NOTRE DAME RECEIVES COMMITMENTS FROM PAIR OF TOP 25 PROSPECTS – Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 15 that two of the nation’s top high school student-athletes have chosen to continue their careers with the Irish, signing national letters of intent to attend Notre Dame beginning in the fall of 2002. Megan Duffy (Dayton, OH/Chaminade-Julienne HS) and Courtney LaVere (Ventura, CA/Buena HS) are the first players to commit to the Irish during the early signing period.

Duffy, a 5-7 guard, averaged 17 points per game last season for Chaminade-Julienne High School in Dayton, Ohio. She was a 2001 first-team Division I all-state selection and earned honorable mention All-America accolades from Street & Smith’s. Additionally, Student Sports tabbed her as a junior All-America selection. She was rated as high as No. 24 in the country by the All-Star Girls Report (ASGR) and No. 29 by School Sports.

LaVere, a 6-3 forward, tallied 13.8 points and eight rebounds per game last season for Buena High School in Ventura, Calif. She also shot 54 percent from the field and 73 percent from the free throw line for BHS, which was ranked in the top 10 nationally throughout the 2000-01 season by USA Today. In addition, LaVere was an All-America honoree by both USA Today and Street & Smith’s last year, and she already has been selected as a preseason third-team All-American for the ’01-02 campaign by School Sports. Like Duffy, LaVere also was a first-team all-state selection last season. She is a consensus top-15 player according to all of the major recruiting services – No. 10 by the Blue Star Index, No. 13 by School Sports and No. 15 by ASGR.

The additions of Duffy and LaVere have given Notre Dame one of this year’s top 10 recruiting classes, according to at least two major recruiting outlets. The Women’s Basketball Journal, in conjunction with ASGR, has pegged the Irish Class of 2006 at No. 5 in the nation. Meanwhile, the Blue Star Index ranked the latest group of Irish signees eighth in the nation, marking the sixth consecutive year in which Blue Star has placed Notre Dame’s recruiting class among the Top 20 in the country.

KRAUSE FEATURED IN “CONFESSIONS OF A FRESHMAN” – Freshman guard Jill Krause is giving fans an inside look at the 2001-02 Irish women’s basketball team through regular diary entries on the Notre Dame athletic website, Entitled “Confessions of a Freshman,” the Glenview, Ill., native is detailing her journey as a first-year player on the defending NCAA championship squad. Her diary entries may be accessed either from the front page or the women’s basketball page on the Notre Dame website.

– ND –