December 7, 1998

DECEMBER 7, 1998

NOTRE DAME, IND. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team is off to its best start in school history as the Irish are 6-0 after beating Toledo. This week, Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad remained sixth in the Associated Press ranking.

Notre Dame opens up BIG EAST play this week with two home games against top-ranked Connecticut and Villanova. The Huskies visit on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. and are the fourth number one ranked team (and first since Tennessee in 1994) to play at the Joyce Center. Following the Connecticut game, Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad entertains Villanova on Saturday, December 12 at 2:00 in the final home game until January 7.

Notre Dame’s win against Toledo was the 15th straight for the Irish at home (tying a school record) dating back to last December. The last loss at home for Notre Dame was on December 6, 1997 when the Irish dropped a 78-59 decision to Connecticut.

THE WEEK IN REVIEW – TOLEDO: Five Irish players scored in double figures, led by Sheila McMillen’s (Rochester, Ind.) game and season-high 23 points, as the Irish beat Toledo 82-64 for the first 6-0 start in school history. Ruth Riley (Macy, Ind.) had her third double-double of the season as she scored 15 points and grabbed a game-high 17 rebounds. Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.) and Sherisha Hills (Tampa, Fla.) each tossed in 12 points, while Green had her second double-double of the season as she hauled in 13 rebounds. Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) was the other Irish player in double figures as she scored 10 points. Both teams shot below 40-percent from the field as the Irish connected on just 36.8 percent, while the Rockets hit 35.9 percent of their shots. Notre Dame owned a 54-38 advantage on the boards.

HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW – Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 12th season along the Notre Dame sidelines and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and five overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Reginal championship. In 1998, McGraw’s squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In her 11-plus seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 241-105 (.697) and in 16-plus campaigns overall, her teams have registered a 329-146 (.693) ledger.

SERIES RECORD VERSUS UPCOMING OPPONENTS – CONNECTICUT: Notre Dame is 0-8 against Connecticut. The Huskies will be making their third visit to the Joyce Center and first as the nation’s number one ranked team. This will be the only meeting of the two teams this season. VILLANOVA: The two teams will meet twice this season. Notre Dame holds a 6-3 advantage in the series and is 4-0 versus the Wildcats at the Joyce Center. The two teams split last season with Villanova winning earning a 70-54 decision at home during the regular season, while the Irish avenged the loss in the quarterfinals of the BIG EAST tournament with an 56-48 victory.

6-0 START BEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY – Notre Dame’s 6-0 start is the best in school history. The best start ever by an Irish team prior to this was in the program’s first year (1977-78) when they started the season 5-0 before finishing up with a 13-4 overall record. The best start ever for 12th-year head coach Muffet McGraw’s team before this was in 1993-94 when it began the season 4-0 and ended up with a 22-7 ledger.

NOTRE DAME VS. NO. 1 – In its 22-year history, this will be the seventh time Notre Dame has faced the number-one ranked team and the fourth time a top-ranked team will be playing at the Joyce Center. The Irish are 0-6 all-time versus number-one teams. The last top-ranked team to play at Notre Dame was Tennessee on Jasnuary 7, 1994 as the Lady Vols beast the Irish 105-70.

POINT PILE UP AT HOME – Notre Dame has put up big numbers in its first four home games as the Irish are averaging 91.5 (366 points). They scored 99 points in the season opener against UCLA and went over the century mark for the first time this season in scoring 101 points against the Illini. The Irish have played four games at home this season and two on the road. In their two road wins, Notre Dame is averaging 72.5 points per game.

McMILLEN MOVES UP SCORING CHART – Senior guard Sheila McMillen, who became the 14th player in Notre Dame women’s basketball history to reach the 1,000-point mark earlier this season, has moved to 13th on the all-time career scoring list with 1,051 points. She needs just 10 more points to pass Carrie Bates (1982-85) as the school’s 12th all-time leading scorer.

IRISH IN THE JOYCE CENTER – Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 188-64 mark for a .746 winning percentage since that first season. Last season, Notre Dame won a school-record 12 games at home en route to a 12-1 record. Since a 78-59 loss to Connecticut on December 6 of last season, the Irish have won 15 straight home games, tying a school record set from January 2, 1995 thru January 10, 1996. Ironically, it was Connecticut who stopped the Irish streak two years ago with an 87-64 victory.

HELPING PUT THE BIG IN THE BIG EAST – After three seasons as a member of the BIG EAST, Notre Dame has proven to be one of the most dominant teams in the league. The Irish have a 44-10 record (81.4 percent) in regular season games and a 6-3 mark (66.7 percent) in BIG EAST tournament action for an overall reocrd of 50-13 (79.3 percent) against league opponents. Of Notre Dame’s 13 total league losses, eight have come against Connecticut when the Huskies were ranked among the top three teams nationally. The Irish have lost to four other teams in the BIG EAST — Rutgers (twice), Boston College, Villanova and Miami.

IRISH TOUGH AT HOME AGAINST BIG EAST FOES – Notre Dame has compiled a 26-2 (.929) record against BIG EAST opponents at the Joyce Center since joining the league in 1995-96. The only two losses have been to the Connecticut. Notre Dame was a perfect 9-0 at home in league action during the 1996-97 season.

IRISH UNBEATEN AGAINST RANKED FOES – Notre Dame is 3-0 against ranked opponents this season as the Irish have beaten UCLA, Duke and Illinois. At the time of the game the Bruins and Blue Devils were sixth in the Associated Press Poll, while the Illini were ranked 25th. These are the most wins ever by a Notre Dame team versus ranked opponents during the regular season. Last season, before their second round win in the NCAA tournament over then sixth-ranked Texas Tech, the Irish were 0-5 versus ranked teams.

DOUBLE DOUBLES FOR RILEY AND GREEN – Ruth Riley and Danielle Green recorded their third and second double-doubles of the season, respectively, in Notre Dame’s win over Toledo. Riley, who had nine last season, now has 12 for her career, while Green has three in her two-plus seasons.

HILLS IN DOUBLE FIGURES AGAIN – Freshman Sherisha Hills netted double figures for the second straight game and the third time this season in Notre Dame’s win over Toledo as she scored 12 points. It was the third time this season that she had hit for double figures. Hills netted a career-high 16 points in the previous game against San Francisco coming off the bench. She was selected the BIG EAST co-Rookie of the Week last week after averaging 12.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in wins over the Lady Dons and Toledo.

WITH THE STUFF – Notre Dame has 43 blocks on the season in its first six games (7.17 per game), while its opponents have just 10. Ruth Riley leads the Irish with 28 blocks (4.67) and had a a career-high eight blocks against Duke on November 21. The eight blocks tied the school mark set by Shari Matvey against Wisconsin-LaCrosse on March 15, 1980.

DOMINATION ON THE BOARDS – Notre Dame is outrebounding its opponents by a 10.8 margin this season. The Irish were most dominant against Duke as they outrebounded the Blue Devils 67-34, and were just seven rebounds away from tying the school record of 74 set against IUPUI-Fort Wayne on January 24, 1978. Ruth Riley and Danielle Green combined for 33 of those 67 rebounds as Riley finished with a career-high 18 boards, while Green also established a personal best with 15. Riley leads the team with 10.5 rpg., while Green is second in the rebounding column with an 8.8 average. Notre Dame is averaging 48.8 rebounds per game.

POINTS A PLENTY – Notre Dame is averaging 85.2 points through its first five games and is outscoring its opponents by an 18.9 ppg. margin, yielding just 66.3 ppg. Last season, Notre Dame averaged 74.2 points per game. Notre Dame has outscored the three ranked opponents it has played — UCLA, Duke and Illinois — by an average of 17.7 ppg. In its season opener against the Bruins, the 99 points the Irish tallied represented the second most in a season opener and the most points by a Notre Dame team in a season opener at the Joyce Center.

OVER THE CENTURY MARK – Notre Dame scored 100-plus points for the first time this season in is 101-92 victory over Illinois. It also was the sixth time during Irish head coach Muffet McGraw’s tenure that her team went over the century mark.

MIXING IT UP – In its first six games, Notre Dame has played teams from six different conferences – Pac 10 (UCLA), Midwestern Collegiate (Butler), Atlantic Coast (Duke), Big Ten (Illinois), West Coast (San Francisco) and Mid-American (Toledo). The remaining two non-conference games on the Irish slate are against South Florida (Conference USA) and Michigan State (Big Ten).

ON THE ROAD – Notre Dame finishes up a three-game homestand against Villanova on Saturday, December 12 and then plays four straight road games – South Florida (Dec. 19), Michigan State (Dec. 21), Boston College (Dec. 30) and Georgetown (Jan. 2). The Irish do not return home again until Thurs, Jan. 7 when they host West Virginia at 7:00 p.m.

(Week of Dec. 6)

                                 LW 1.  Connecticut (6-0)            1 2.  Tennessee (6-1)              3 3.  Purdue (5-1)                 4 4.  Lousiana Tech (5-1)          2 5.  Georgia (5-0)                5  6.  NOTRE DAME (6-0)             6 7.  North Carolina (9-1)         9 8.  UCLA (5-2)                  10 9.  Alabama (7-1)                710.  Old Dominion (6-1)           811.  Colorado State (10-0)       1212.  Texas Tech (6-1)            1413.  George Washington (5-1)     2214.  Rutgers (6-2)               1115.  Clemson (7-0)               2516.  Duke (5-4)                  1617.  Florida (8-2)               2118.  Iowa State (5-1)            1819.  Nebraska (7-1)              2320.  Penn State (5-1)            NR21.  Virginia (4-2)              1522.  Virginia Tech (6-0)         NR23.  Kansas (6-3)                1924   Arkansas (6-3)              1325.  UC Santa Barbara (4-1)      NR

(Week of Nov. 30)

                                 LW 1.  Connecticut (4-0)            1 2.  Louisiana Tech (3-0)         2 3.  Tennessee (3-1)              3  4.  Purdue (3-1)                 4 5.  Georgia (3-0)                6 6.  Alabama (5-0)                7 7.  Old Dominion (5-0)           9 8.  North Carolina (7-1)         5 9.  NOTRE DAME (5-0)            1010.  UCLA (4-2)                  1111.  Rutgers (6-1)               1212.  Texas Tech (3-1)            1313.  Arkansas (6-1)              1414   North Carolina State (3-2)   815.  Colorado State (8-0)        1816.  Duke (4-3)                  1517.  Kansas (4-2)                16 18.  Virginia (3-1)              1919.  Iowa State (3-0)            2220.  Florida (6-2)               1721.  Wisconsin (4-1)             2022.  Vanderbilt (3-1)            2123.  Nebraska (5-1)              2424.  Clemson (4-0)               NR25.  Stanford (2-4)              25

(through games of nov. 29)

                     BIG EAST      Overall                      Record       Record Boston College         0-0           6-0 NOTRE DAME             0-0           5-0Connecticut            0-0           4-0Pittsburgh             0-0           4-0Rutgers                0-0           6-1Georgetown             0-0           3-2Syracuse               0-0           3-2West Virginia          0-0           3-2Seton Hall             0-0           2-3Villanova              0-0           2-3Miami                  0-0           1-2Providence             0-0           1-3