Notre Dame Fighting Irish - Official Athletics Website

Women's Hoops Plays Host To Marquette In New Year's Day Matinee

Dec. 31, 2003

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Notre Dame Fighting Irish (6-4)
vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (8-2)

The Date and Time: Thursday, Jan. 1, 2004, at 2 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 Shawn Lewallen (analysis). These broadcasts also are available through the Notre Dame athletics web site at

Real-Time Statistics: Live in-game statistics are available for the Marquette game through the Notre Dame ( athletics web site.

Web Site: Notre Dame (, Marquette (

Notre Dame will look to pick up in 2004 right where it left off in 2003 when it welcomes Marquette to the Joyce Center Thursday for a 2 p.m. (ET) New Year’s Day contest. The Irish have won three in a row and four of their last five games and willl seek to remain unbeaten at home this season against a determined Golden Eagle squad.

  • Notre Dame (6-4) collected its first true road win of the 2003-04 season Monday night with a 63-59 victory at Colorado State. The Irish used an 18-7 second-half run to take the lead for good and then held off several Ram charges to come away triumphant.
  • Junior center Teresa Borton turned in her best performance of the season at CSU, chalking up team highs of 14 points (on six of 10 shooting) and nine rebounds. Senior guard Le’Tania Severe also was a key contributor for Notre Dame, scoring 13 points. She was nine of 11 at the free throw line and made all six of her foul shots in the second half, including two big charities with 3.1 seconds left to seal the win.
  • One of the more overlooked aspects of Monday’s win at Colorado State was the production of the Irish bench. The Notre Dame reserves outscored their Ram counterparts, 20-3, with freshmen Crystal Erwin and Breona Gray combining for 10 points and nine rebounds in the victory.
  • Marquette (8-2) also has won four of its last five games, following a 73-61 conquest of Dayton on Monday in Milwaukee. Senior guard Kelly Schwerman scored a game-high 25 points to lead a trio of Golden Eagles in double figures as MU broke open a close game early in the second half.
  • Notre Dame owns a 24-4 lead in the series with Marquette, including a 14-1 record at the Joyce Center. The 24 wins and 28 games played are the most against one opponent in school history.

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 two months of the season, it has been the Notre Dame backcourt that has sparkled with regularity.

  • Sophomore Megan Duffy (11.8 ppg., team-high 4.8 apg., .528 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 almost quadrupled her scoring output and she owns a team-best 1.55 assist/turnover ratio (10th in the BIG EAST). In addition, she is showing offensive diversity, knocking down 19 of 36 three-pointers this season. She also posted a career-high 25 points on Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin. Her ball handling skills have not diminished, as she has registered five games with five-or-more assists, including a career-high nine assists on Dec. 7 at Washington.
  • Senior captain Le’Tania Severe (9.1 ppg., 2.9 apg., .483 FG%) 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 third on the Irish with 1.4 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 at third-ranked Tennessee and Colorado State, and 12 points vs. USC. She has honed her shooting eye lately, hitting at a .545 clip (18-33) in her last six games.
  • Senior guard Jeneka Joyce (4.8 ppg., team-high .571 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 now ranks fourth on the school’s career charts in three-point percentage (.397).
  • Junior forward and preseason All-American Jacqueline Batteast (15.3 ppg., 7.6 rpg., 1.4 bpg., three 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 then chalked up her third double-double vs. USC (20p, 13r) to earn the first BIG EAST Player of the Week honor of her career. She now has 54 career double-figure scoring games and 22 career double-doubles. In addition, she needs only 44 points to become the 20th Notre Dame player to score 1,000 career points.
  • Junior center Teresa Borton (6.3 ppg., 4.5 rpg., .529 FG%) and sophomore forward Courtney LaVere (8.8 ppg., 5.9 rpg.) also have made important contributions at times this season. Borton has recovered well from off-season heel surgery, averaging 11.5 ppg. during Notre Dame’s current three-game winning streak. Her best outing of the season came at Colorado State with 14 points and nine rebounds. Meanwhile, LaVere, a freshman All-American last year, has had an up-and-down second season. 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.

Marquette has gotten off to a strong 8-2 start this season behind the strength of nine returning letterwinners and three veteran starters. The Golden Eagles went 16-14 last season and advanced to the second round of the WNIT and are looking for bigger things in 2003-04.

The Golden Eagles last played on Monday, defeating Dayton, 73-61 in their final game at U.S. Cellular Arena in Milwaukee. MU will christen its new on-campus arena, the Al McGuire Center, this weekend after visiting Notre Dame. Senior guard Kelly Schwerman closed the old facility with a bang, scoring 25 points on 10 of 15 shooting (and five of eight from beyond the arc). Senior guard Katie O’Grady added 14 points off the bench and sophomore guard Carolyn Kieger had 13 points and nine assists for Marquette, which pulled away in the second half after leading 31-29 at the break.

Schwerman and Kieger have been a solid scoring tandem for the Golden Eagles this season. Schwerman is tops on the squad in points (14.7 ppg.), three-point percentage (.380) and three-pointers per game (3.0). Meanwhile, Kieger has been an all-around threat at the point, logging 13.2 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals per game, while ranking second on the team with a .355 three-point percentage.

Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell is in her eighth season piloting the Golden Eagles. She owns a career record of 137-78 (.637), but she is 0-4 all-time against Notre Dame.

Notre Dame and Marquette will be playing for the 29th time on the hardwood in what has been the most frequent series in school history. Beginning with the formation of the Irish program in 1977-78, the two teams met in 18 of the next 19 seasons before going on a three-year hiatus from 1996-98. The series restarted in 1999 and has continued ever since.

Notre Dame holds a 24-4 edge in the all-time series and a 14-1 advantage at the Joyce Center. Marquette actually won three of the first four games in the series, but the Irish since have claimed 23 of the last 24 meetings between the two teams, including 13 in a row at the Joyce Center. In fact, the Golden Eagles have not defeated Notre Dame since a 66-62 win in Milwaukee to open the 1992-93 season, downing an Irish team captained by current Notre Dame assistant Coquese Washington.

The Irish extended their current winning streak over Marquette to seven games with a 75-68 victory on Dec. 31, 2002 in Milwaukee. Notre Dame used a 33-11 run midway through the second half to open up a 14-point lead and eventually register the win. The Irish also hit 16 of their final 24 shots from the field and finished with a stellar .540 field goal percentage for the contest.

Forward Jacqueline Batteast led all scorers with 23 points and added 11 rebounds for her third double-double of the season. Guard Le’Tania Severe contributed a (then) career-best 20 points, making 10 of 11 free throws, and added a season-high six assists for good measure. Meanwhile, forward Courtney LaVere made her first career start a memorable one, collecting 16 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for her second consecutive double-double.

The last time Notre Dame played host to Marquette at the Joyce Center, the Irish carded a 60-33 win on Dec. 22, 2001. Batteast notched the second of five consecutive double-doubles that season with 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds for Notre Dame. The Irish used a vise-like defense to keep the Golden Eagles off balance, holding the visitors without a field goal for the first seven minutes of the game while bolting to a 22-4 lead. Notre Dame held a commanding +21 advantage (54-33) in the rebounding column and held Marquette to an opponent season-low 18.5 percent shooting. The 33 points scored by the Golden Eagles also marked the sixth-best defensive performance in Irish history.


  • The 24 victories by Notre Dame and the 28 series games are both school records. Detroit is second on the Irish opponent victory list (22), while Notre Dame has played Dayton 27 times, second-most in school annals.
  • Marquette has topped the 70-point mark just twice against Notre Dame. Conversely, the Irish have scored at least 70 points against the Golden Eagles 20 times, all in the last 22 series meetings.
  • Marquette head coach Terri Mitchell was an assistant with the Golden Eagles the last time they defeated Notre Dame on Dec. 1, 1992.
  • Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is 15-1 (.938) in her career against Marquette, including a 9-0 mark against the Golden Eagles at the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame and Marquette have only one common opponent — Dayton. Both teams came away victorious against the Flyers, with the Irish winning 78-41 on Dec. 13 at the Joyce Center, and MU winning 73-61 on Monday in Milwaukee.

Notre Dame is 47-21 (.691) against the current members of Conference USA, including a 26-8 (.765) mark at the Joyce Center. The Irish have played more games (68) against C-USA opponents than any other league outside of the BIG EAST Conference (156), with the Big Ten ranking just behind C-USA with 66 games.

Notre Dame has faced nine different current C-USA members during its history, posting winning records against Cincinnati (1-0), East Carolina (2-0), Marquette (24-4), Memphis (1-0), Saint Louis (6-1), South Florida (2-0) and TCU (1-0).

The Irish have won 10 of their last 11 games against C-USA competition after splitting matchups at DePaul (loss) and Marquette (win) last season. The 75-59 setback at DePaul on Dec. 11, 2002, was Notre Dame’s first (and only) loss to a C-USA foe since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96.

In addition, the Irish have won seven consecutive home games against the present C-USA alignment, a streak that dates back nearly 13 seasons. The last current C-USA member to win at the Joyce Center was DePaul, which registered a 62-49 win over Notre Dame on Feb. 11, 1992.

Marquette is one of 10 former North Star Conference schools Notre Dame has played since it left the NSC to join the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League) in 1988. The Irish have a 106-23 (.822) record in the last 14 seasons against former North Star members, including a 2-0 mark this year with wins over Valparaiso and Dayton.

Much of that post-NSC record was compiled when several North Star teams resurfaced alongside the Irish in the MCC. In fact, eight of Notre Dame’s 10 former North Star foes also squared off with the Irish in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, including Thursday’s opponent, Marquette.

The Irish have won 18 of their last 19 games against former North Star members, a streak which pre-dates Notre Dame’s current membership in the BIG EAST Conference. The only NSC alum to defeat the Irish in that time is DePaul, which won by a 75-59 count on Dec. 11, 2002, in Chicago.

The Irish never have played on New Year’s Day in the 27-year history of the program.


  • Notre Dame will extend its winning streak to a season-high four games and remain undefeated at home this season (5-0 at the Joyce Center).
  • The Irish will log their 45th non-conference home win in 47 games and their 103rd win in their last 112 games (.920) at the Joyce Center, pushing their current home winning streak to 10 games.
  • Notre Dame will pick up its 25th career victory over Marquette, stretching its school record for the most wins over one opponent.
  • The Irish will improve to 48-21 (.696) all-time against Conference USA teams, including a 27-8 (.771) record at home. They also will garner their 11th win in the last 12 games against C-USA and their eighth consecutive victory at the Joyce Center over a current C-USA school.
  • Head coach Muffet McGraw will see her record at Notre Dame rise to 370-142 (.723) in 17 seasons under the Golden Dome. She also will watch her career ledger improve to 458-183 (.715) in 22 years at the college level.
  • The Irish will raise their all-time record to 534-241 (.689) in 27 seasons of varsity competition.

Junior center Teresa Borton logged season highs of 14 points and nine rebounds, and senior guard Le’Tania Severe added 13 points, including two big free throws with 3.1 seconds left to help Notre Dame defeat Colorado State, 63-59 on Monday night at Moby Arena in Fort Collins, Colo. It was the first true road win in five opportunities this season for the Irish, who now have won three in a row and four of their last five games.

Borton made six of her 10 shots from the field and played a career-high 37 minutes, including the final 4:29 with four fouls. Severe did much of her damage at the free throw line, hitting nine of 11 foul shots and all six of her charity tosses in the second half. The Notre Dame bench also played a pivotal role in the victory, outscoring their CSU counterparts by a 20-3 margin.

Unlike its previous two games, Notre Dame fell behind early as the Rams bolted to a 7-2 lead and widened their advantage to 13-7 on a jumper in the lane by Dennett with 12:32 left in the first half. As it turned out, that would be Colorado State’s largest lead of the night and it didn’t last long as the Irish went on an 8-0 run, capped by two Borton free throws, to assume a 15-13 lead at the 9:40 mark.

Colorado State (6-4) regained its footing and the upper hand moments later, piecing together a 12-5 run to build up a five-point lead with just over three minutes left in the first half. Thomas had five points and Jenkins chipped in with four points during the spurt. The Rams would maintain their lead until the closing seconds of the period, when Borton found senior guard Jeneka Joyce on a weakside layup with 17 seconds left to forge a 26-26 tie at the intermission.

Notre Dame (6-4) came out focused to start the second half and it showed, as the Irish opened the period on an 18-7 run, highlighted by a pair of three-pointers from Joyce, to take their largest lead of the night at 44-33 with 13:49 remaining. However, as quickly as that lead ballooned, it disappeared nearly as fast, with Jenkins and Annika Walseth banging down three-pointers and Dennett adding five points inside to spark an 11-2 Ram charge.

Holding a slim 46-44 lead with 9:47 to go, Notre Dame held fast and never let Colorado State move in front. Borton twice gave her team a six-point lead with layups inside, but eventually CSU whittled the margin to a single point when Thomas hit two free throws to make it 55-54 at the 4:28 junction.

Again, the Irish mettle was tested and again, they passed as Severe hit a fastbreak layup and two free throws before junior forward Jacqueline Batteast made a breakaway layup and was intentionally fouled by Walseth with 2:43 left. However, Batteast missed both of the ensuing charities and Notre Dame could not capitalize on the resulting possession. CSU made the visitors pay for their transgression, as Thomas knocked down a jumper in the lane and Vanessa Espinoza followed with a pull-up three-pointer in transition to cut the margin to 61-59 with 56.7 seconds to play.

The Irish had a chance to ice the win on their next possession, but sophomore guard Megan Duffy misfired on her long jumper and the Rams came away with the basketball and a chance to tie or win the game. Following a CSU timeout, Jasai Ferrucho got open on the right baseline, but her jumper went long and Batteast was there to collect the rebound. The Irish hit Severe with the outlet pass and she was fouled by Thomas with 3.1 seconds left. The Notre Dame captain then put the capper on a thrilling Irish win by coolly draining both of her free throws as the raucous Moby Arena crowd of 2,701 tried in vain to distract her.

Notre Dame has quickly learned how it rates against the rest of the nation’s elite programs. The Irish have fought through a brutal non-conference schedule that included playing five of their first seven games away from home, all against teams that were either ranked or receiving votes in both major national polls. Notre Dame 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, with Michigan State since vaulting to 23rd in the current Associated Press poll and 22nd in the latest ESPN/USA Today 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 sixth-toughest in the nation (through Dec. 30), while has the Irish schedule ranked ninth-hardest in the land.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast was selected as the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week, the conference office announced Monday. It was the first time Batteast won the award in her three-year Irish career, although she was a six-time BIG EAST Rookie of the Week in 2001-02 and subsequently was named the league’s Rookie of the Year.

Batteast, a two-time all-BIG EAST selection, rang up her third double-double of the season on Dec. 22 against USC, finishing with a game-high 20 points and a season-best 13 rebounds. She also registered four assists and three steals without a turnover as Notre Dame led virtually wire-to-wire in a 73-62 win over the Women of Troy. It was Batteast’s second 20-point game and fourth double-digit rebounding game of the year.

Part of the reason for Notre Dame’s current three-game winning streak has been its ability to shut down its opponents in the first half. The Irish outscored Dayton, USC and Colorado State by a combined score of 109-55 in the opening period, limiting those three squads to a .240 field goal percentage (18 for 75) over that span.

Notre Dame has received production from a number of different sources during its three-game winning streak. Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is averaging 14 points and eight rebounds per game with a .463 field goal percentage, followed by junior center Teresa Borton, who is carding 11.7 points and 6.7 rebounds with a .667 field goal ratio in the last three games. However, two of the bigger contributions of late have come from two of the Irish freshmen — forward Crystal Erwin is averaging eight points and 3.3 rebounds per game with a .500 field goal percentage, while guard Breona Gray is notching six points and 4.7 rebounds per outing with a .538 shooting percentage.

As a team, Notre Dame is outscoring its opponents, 71.3-54.0, during its current run of success. The Irish also hold a +4 rebounding edge (41-37) and are forcing 22.7 turnovers per game, with 12.7 of those takeaways coming via steals. Sophomore guard Megan Duffy has been the main thief for Notre Dame, averaging three steals in the past three games.

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 College 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.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast needs only 44 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 15.3 ppg. pace, she should reach the millennium milestone later this month. For her career, the South Bend native ranks sixth in school history with a 14.1 ppg. scoring average (956 points in 68 games).

Based on her play this season, sophomore point guard Megan Duffy is making a strong case to be named the BIG EAST Conference Most Improved Player. Last season, the Dayton native averaged 3.0 points and 2.3 assists per game while still shaking off the rust caused by off-season knee surgery. She also struggled to find her shooting touch, hitting at a .242 clip from the floor and making only seven of 35 three-point attempts (.200).

Fast forward to this season, where Duffy has been an impact player from the outset. She is second on the team in scoring at 11.8 ppg., which almost quadruples her production from last year. However, her biggest improvement has come in her shooting numbers, where she’s connecting at a sharp .528 percentage (19-36) from the three-point line. She’s also nearly tripled the number of treys she made all of last year and after cracking double digits just twice in 2002-03 (career high was 12 points), she has five double-figure games this season, with all five matching or surpassing her previous career best (led by a 25-point outburst on Dec. 4 vs. Wisconsin, where she shattered her career standard from beyond the arc, going six for 10 from downtown).

But lest we forget her primary duties at the point, Duffy is leading the Irish and ranking sixth in the BIG EAST with 4.80 assists per game, more than doubling last year’s production. She also has just 31 turnovers, giving her a healthy 1.55 assist/turnover ratio (ninth in the BIG EAST). She has dished out at least five assists five times this year, including a career-high nine dimes on Dec. 7 at Washington.

Notre Dame appears to have cured one of its early-season problems — turnovers. In their last five games, the Irish have averaged only 14.8 turnovers, including a season-low 10 giveaways vs. Wisconsin on Dec. 4. It should be noted that bulk of Notre Dame’s 23 turnovers vs. Dayton on Dec. 13 came late in the second half with many of the Irish freshmen and reserves on the floor. At the same time, Notre Dame has been doing a better job of distributing the basketball lately, averaging 18.0 assists per game in that span. That works out to a solid 1.21 assist/turnover ratio in the month of December (90 assists, 74 turnovers).

One of the supposed question marks surrounding this year’s Notre Dame squad was its perimeter shooting. Through the first two months of the season, the Irish have had an emphatic response to that question. Notre Dame is second in the BIG EAST and 19th nationally with a .405 three-point percentage, hitting 45 of 111 shots from beyond the arc. Senior guard Jeneka Joyce has been one of the primary perimeter producers, knocking down 12 of 21 treys for a team-best .571 three-point percentage (although she has not yet made enough field goals to qualify for statistical rankings). Sophomore guard Megan Duffy also has been a force on the outside with a .528 three-point percentage. In addition, Duffy ranks 10th in the conference with 1.9 three-pointers made per game, part of Notre Dame’s team average of 4.5 treys per outing this season.

Despite not having seen any meaningful action since March 17, 2002 at Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, senior guard Jeneka Joyce has looked very comfortable in her first seven games this season. The Topeka, Kan., native missed Notre Dame’s two games at the WBCA Classic, but returned to action Nov. 21 vs. Valparaiso and promptly canned all three of her three-point attempts (including the last from nearly 25 feet out), finishing with nine points. Five nights later on Nov. 26 at Michigan State, Joyce nailed her first three three-point shots before missing her last two and again wound up with nine points. She is 12 of 21 from beyond the arc this season, good for a team-best .571 percentage, while averaging 4.8 points per game. For her career, Joyce now ranks fourth in school history with a .397 three-point percentage and she also stands ninth with 60 career treys and 151 career three-point attempts.

Although they didn’t come away with the trophy they wanted at the WBCA Classic, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and senior guard Le’Tania Severe did receive individual honors as members of the WBCA Classic All-Tournament Team. Batteast averaged 20 points and 7.5 rebounds in the two-game tournament, while shooting .529 from the field. Severe carded 11.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game in the tournament and posted a stellar .857 free throw percentage (12 of 14). It was the first career all-tournament team selection for both players.

Notre Dame is receiving eight votes in the latest Associated Press poll after spending the first three weeks of this season in the AP Top 25 poll. The Irish were ranked 15th in the preseason AP poll, marking the seventh time in the last eight seasons that the Irish were tapped in the initial AP survey of the year.

Notre Dame also is earning four votes in the most recent ESPN/USA Today coaches poll after appearing in the Top 25 for the first three weeks of 2003-04. The Irish were pegged No. 16 in the preseason coaches poll, also the seventh time in eight years that they had shown up in the first ESPN/USA Today poll of the year.

Notre Dame has faced or will face seven teams that are currently ranked in both major polls (No. 1/1 Connecticut, No. 5/5 Tennessee, No. 7/8 Purdue, No. 13/13 Colorado, No. 16/15 Virginia Tech, No. 22/20 Boston College and No. 23/22 Michigan State). In addition, Auburn is ranked 21st in the latest AP poll. Four Notre Dame opponents also presently are receiving votes in one or both major polls this week — Miami (Fla.), Rutgers, Villanova and Washington.

Over the last four seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 67-5 (.931) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including a 5-1 mark this year. One of those rare losses occurred vs. Colorado in the WBCA Classic on Nov. 15. Notre Dame led 37-33 at the intermission before the Buffaloes rallied for a 67-63 overtime win.

Over the last nine 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 117-4 (.967) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame has added three more wins to that ledger this season by holding down Valparaiso (74-57), Dayton (78-41) and Colorado State (63-59).

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 nine seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 86-3 (.966) 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 tacked on another win to this tally on Dec. 4 with its 82-64 win over Wisconsin.

Notre Dame is one of only eight schools in the country to have appeared in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen five times in the past seven seasons (1997-2003). The others are Connecticut (seven times), Tennessee (seven times), Duke (six times), Louisiana Tech (six times), North Carolina (five times), Old Dominion (five times) and Texas Tech (five times).

The Irish are one of just six teams nationwide to have an active streak of 10 consecutive 20-win seasons. The others in these elite club are Tennessee (27), Texas Tech (14), Louisiana Tech (12), Old Dominion (12) and Connecticut (10).

For the first time since the 1998-99 season, the Irish are wearing white uniforms at home this season, eschewing the golden togs they sported for the past four seasons. Notre Dame has worn white uniforms on numerous occasions on the past, dating as far back as the school’s first varsity women’s basketball squad, which took the floor in 1977-78. Blue continues to be the primary color for the Irish road uniforms.

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 102 of their last 111 games (.919) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including a school-record 51-game winning streak from 1998-2002 (at the time, it was the 10th-longest string in NCAA history. Notre Dame also has a 61-7 (.897) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game winning streak at home before it was snapped with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the 2002 home finale.

The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 44 of their last 46 non-BIG EAST contests (.957) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. The only two losses in that span came to Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69) and Purdue in 2003 (71-54). 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 252-70 (.783) record at the venerable facility. In both the 1999-2000 and 2000-01 seasons, the Irish were a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.

Beginning with its national championship season of 2000-01, Notre Dame has ranked in the Top 10 in the nation in attendance each of the past three years. The Irish are looking to extend that streak to a fourth straight season and have gotten off to a good start, averaging 6,131 fans for their four home games, including a season-high 6,571 fans in their last Joyce Center action on Dec. 22 vs. USC. According to the latest unofficial national attendance rankings compiled by the Wisconsin Sports Information Office (as of Dec. 29), Notre Dame ranks 10th in the country in attendance.

The Irish averaged 7,132 fans for their 13 home games last season, good for their second consecutive eighth-place finish in the final NCAA attendance rankings. Last year also saw Notre Dame register two of the top 10 crowds in school history, including a season-high gathering of 9,483 fans, the fifth-largest in school history for the nationally-televised matchup with Purdue on Jan. 4.

All of the top 20 crowds in the Irish record book have occurred during the 17-year tenure of head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present). And, as more evidence of Notre Dame’s rapid elevation to “hot ticket” status in South Bend, 19 of the top 20 crowds in school history have been recorded in the last four seasons.

Notre Dame has won 187 games over the last eight seasons, which stands as the ninth-most wins of any school in the country during that time.

Historically, Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule and 2003-04 is more evidence of that fact. The Irish will play no less than 17 teams that qualified for postseason play last year, including 12 NCAA Tournament squads and six that advanced to the Sweet Sixteen (highlighted by two-time defending national champion Connecticut and NCAA runner-up Tennessee). In addition, five opponents (Connecticut, Purdue, Tennessee, Valparaiso and Villanova) won the regular-season or tournament title in their respective conference. Furthermore, 19 of the 26 possible Irish opponents finished with records of .500 or better last season, including 12 squads that posted 20-win campaigns. All told, Notre Dame opponents had a combined winning percentage of .610 last season (490-313).

Based on its success in recent years, Notre Dame continues to be a favorable television draw and the 2003-04 season will be no exception. The Irish are slated to play on the small screen no less than eight times in the coming campaign, including four appearances on national television.

Notre Dame made its ’03-04 television debut on Dec. 7 at Washington in a matchup that was shown to a national cable audience on Fox Sports Net. The Irish are back on coast-to-coast television Sunday when they visit Purdue for the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge. That contest will be shown live at 3 p.m. (ET) on ESPN2.

In addition, Notre Dame has been selected to appear on the BIG EAST Conference television package four times this season, including three home games. The Irish will take on Virginia Tech (Jan. 10), Villanova (Jan. 24) and Boston College (Jan. 31) at home and travel to Rutgers (Feb. 28) for games in front of the BIG EAST TV cameras. Those games may be seen on a regional basis in several major East Coast markets, including New York, Boston, Miami, Philadelphia and Washington, as well as South Bend, where WHME-TV (Channel 46) will show the games on a delayed basis.

It also was recently announced that the BIG EAST matchup between Notre Dame and two-time defending national champion Connecticut will be televised jointly by WHME-TV and Connecticut Public Television (CPTV), with College Sports Television (CSTV) also picking up the broadcast and airing it nationally. That game will take place Jan. 13 at 7 p.m. (ET) from the Joyce Center.

Notre Dame will make a fourth national TV appearance on Feb. 25, when the BIG EAST game between the Irish and Miami at the Joyce Center is broadcast live by CSTV. That contest will tip off at 8 p.m. (ET) — some early schedules initially had this game listed one hour earlier.

In addition, the semifinals of this year’s BIG EAST Championship presented by State Farm will be broadcast on the BIG EAST television package Monday, March 8 at 6 and 8 p.m. (ET) from the Hartford (Conn.) Civic Center. WHME-TV in South Bend will carry those games live. The championship game will air live on ESPN2 on Tuesday, March 9 at 7 p.m. (ET).

After a two-year absence, the Joyce Center once again will be home to NCAA Tournament competition as Notre Dame was selected to be one of 16 sites for first- and second-round games in the 2004 NCAA Tournament. Action at the South Bend subregional will take place Sunday, March 21 and Tuesday, March 23, with exact tipoff times and potential television broadcasts to be determined by the NCAA during the week leading up to the competition.

Should Notre Dame qualify for the NCAA Tournament for the 11th time in school history (and the ninth consecutive season), the Irish are guaranteed to play at home. Notre Dame has played five NCAA tourney games at the Joyce Center in its history, going 4-1 and and advancing to the NCAA Sweet Sixteen in 2000 and 2001 (the Irish went on to win the national championship in the latter season).

Single-session ticket books for NCAA Tournament games at the Joyce Center currently are available to the general public (one ticket for both Sunday games, one ticket for Tuesday’s only game). Single-game tickets will not be made available until after the field of 64 is announced on March 14. For more information on how to purchase tickets for the 2004 NCAA Notre Dame subregional, contact the Irish athletics ticket office at (574) 631-7356 or visit the ticket windows located on the second floor of the Joyce Center at Gate 1.

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 1620) and WNDV-AM (1490) in South Bend. Veteran broadcaster and AMP sports director Sean Stires is now in his fourth season handling the play-by-play for Notre Dame. The Irish also can be heard on the Internet at Notre Dame’s official athletics website ( by subscribing to Fighting Irish Pass, which gives listeners full access to a variety of Irish athletics events on radio for only $6.95 per month.

THE Muffet McGraw SHOW
Muffet McGraw’s half-hour, weekly television show is produced by LeSea Broadcasting and hosted by Bob Nagle. The show, now in its seventh season, is carried by WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend and airs at 6:30 p.m. (ET) Saturdays through the end of the 2003-04 season. The show also is available via satellite (Galaxy 6, Transponder 15) each Saturday at 10:30 a.m. (ET), and may be seen on LeSea Broadcasting stations in Denver, Honolulu, Indianapolis, New Orleans and Tulsa (check local listings).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) is one of 30 players who were named to the 2003-04 John R. Wooden Women’s Award Preseason All-America Team on Aug. 13. Based on a vote of the Wooden Women’s Award National Advisory Board, these 30 players are considered the top candidates for the inaugural Wooden Women’s Award, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast is one of five BIG EAST players named to the Wooden Preseason All-America Team, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers, and the Connecticut duo of Ann Strother and Diana Taurasi.

In mid-January, the Wooden Women’s Award Committee will release its Midseason Top 20 List, followed in March by the official voting ballot which will consist of the top 10-15 players who have proven their success in the classroom (minimum 2.0 grade-point average) as well as on the court. More than 250 voters, comprised of sports media members and women’s college basketball experts around the country, will then cast their votes for the five-member Wooden All-America Team and the Wooden Award winner.

Although the 2003-04 season marks the debut of the Wooden Women’s Award, the honor initially was created in 1976 to recognize the top male collegiate basketball player in the nation. Past winners include Larry Bird (’79), Michael Jordan (’84) and Tim Duncan (’97).

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is one of 35 players who were selected to the 2003-04 State Farm Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List on Aug. 20 by the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). Based on a vote of committee members which include leading coaches, journalists and basketball administrators, these 35 players are considered the top candidates for the State Farm Wade Trophy, which will be presented to the most outstanding female collegiate basketball player at the conclusion of the ’03-04 season.

Batteast is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection who started every game for the Irish last season, leading the team in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.) and blocked shots (1.56 bpg.). She also ranked among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in those categories, as well as steals (1.97 spg.) and double-doubles (8). In addition, the 6-2 wing scored in double figures 26 times, topped the 20-point mark five times, and earned game-high rebounding honors of 14 occasions. She ranks among Notre Dame’s career leaders in scoring average (6th – 13.8 ppg.) and rebounding average (tie-2nd – 8.1 rpg.), and she is one of only five players in school history to amass at least 800 points in her first two seasons under the Golden Dome.

Batteast was one of five BIG EAST players named to the ’03-04 Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List, joining Rebekkah Brunson of Georgetown, Ieva Kublina of Virginia Tech, Cappie Pondexter of Rutgers and last year’s Wade Trophy recipient, Diana Taurasi of Connecticut.

The State Farm Wade Trophy, now in its 27th year, is named after Margaret Wade, the late Delta State University coach who won three national championship in the mid-1970s. The Wade Trophy is considered the one of the most prestigious individual awards in women’s college basketball and is organized by the WBCA and the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport (NAGWS).

Adding to her armload of preseason hardware, junior forward Jacqueline Batteast (South Bend, Ind.) was named a preseason honorable mention All-American by Street & Smith’s in the magazine’s annual basketball preview issue. It’s the third preseason honor for the talented 6-2 wing, who is a two-time all-BIG EAST Conference selection. She also was the 2001-02 United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year and a WBCA/Kodak honorable mention All-American that season, as well as the unanimous choice for BIG EAST Rookie of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast and freshman forward Crystal Erwin both received preseason recognition in a vote of the BIG EAST Conference coaches that was released at the league’s annual Media Day on Oct. 30 at the Newark (N.J.) Liberty Airport Hilton. Batteast was a preseason first-team all-BIG EAST selection, while Erwin was named the Preseason BIG EAST Co-Freshman of the Year, sharing the honor with Connecticut’s Liz Sherwood.

Batteast led the Irish in scoring (13.9 ppg.), rebounding (8.3 rpg.), blocked shots (1.56 bpg.) and double-doubles (8), ranking among the BIG EAST leaders in all four categories. She is a two-time second-team all-conference selection and is one of only five players in school history to score 800 points in her first two seasons at Notre Dame.

As a senior last year at St. Paul High School in Santa Fe Springs, Calif., Erwin earned All-America honors from Parade, Street & Smith’s and the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA), and also was selected to play in the McDonald’s All-America Game in Atlanta. She averaged 22.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game during her storied prep career, averaging double-doubles during both her junior (24.9 ppg., 14.9 rpg.) and senior seasons (21.2 ppg., 10.2 rpg.). She holds career records at St. Paul for points (2,720), rebounds (1,630) and blocks (380), as well as the school single-season scoring mark (869 in 2001-02). She follows Batteast as the second Irish rookie in three years to be chosen the BIG EAST Preseason Freshman of the Year.

Junior forward Jacqueline Batteast is among 30 preseason candidates named to the watch list for 2003-04 Naismith College Basketball Player of the Year Awards which are presented annually by the Atanta Tip-Off Club. The Naismith Awards program, now in its 36th year, honors the outstanding male and female college basketball players in the United States. The awards program was founded by the Atlanta Tipoff Club, an organization dedicated to recognizing the achievements of student-athletes in basketball. The candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts.

The Naismith Award is the latest in a series of preseason honors for the Batteast. She was named a preseason All-American by both the John R. Wooden Women’s Award and Street & Smith’s magazine, and she also was selected to the State Farm/WBCA Wade Trophy Preseason Watch List. In addition, she was a first-team all-BIG EAST choice, according to a vote of the league’s head coaches.

Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw announced Nov. 18 that three 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 2004. Charel Allen , a 5-10 guard from Monessen, Pa., Melissa D’Amico, a 6-5 forward/center from Manorville, N.Y., and Tulyah Gaines (pronounced too-LIE-uh) , a 5-8 guard from North Las Vegas, Nev., all committed to the Irish during the early signing period, which lasted from Nov. 12-19.

Allen will arrive at Notre Dame next fall as one of the top college prospects from western Pennsylvania. She is a three-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American who averaged 29.9 points, 11.4 rebounds, 7.2 steals and 4.8 assists per game last season at Monessen High School. She also is a two-time Associated Press first-team all-state pick and was named the 2003 AP Class A Player of the Year. In addition, she is a two-time all-Pittsburgh metro area selection and a ’03 AAU 16-and-under All-American. As a freshman in 2001, she was a fifth-team AP all-state choice when she averaged 23.6 points per game. In her first three seasons at MHS, Allen has piled up 2,302 points (26.2 ppg.), 995 rebounds (11.3 rpg.), 600 steals (6.8 spg.), 426 assists (4.8 apg.) and 102 blocks (1.2 bpg.). She was ranked 27th in the nation by Blue Star Index and she will be the fourth Pennsylvania native to play for the Irish (the first in 13 seasons).

At 6-5, D’Amico will be the tallest player on the Irish roster when she sets foot on the Notre Dame campus in the fall of 2004. A versatile post player, she averaged 16.8 points, 9.1 rebounds and 3.5 blocks per game last season for William Floyd High School in Mastic Beach, N.Y. (located on Long Island). She burst onto the national scene this past summer at the adidas Top Ten Camp in Suwanee, Ga., and is considered by most recruiting services to be one of the top players on the rise in this year’s class. She currently is ranked 47th in the country by All-Star Girls Report and 91st by Blue Star Index , and she follows in the footsteps of another talented New Yorker who came to Notre Dame — two-time honorable mention All-American and Mount Vernon, N.Y., product, Katryna Gaither (1993-97).

Gaines is a playmaking guard who will give the Irish solid depth in the backcourt. Last summer, she moved to North Las Vegas and is attending Cheyenne High School, where she will play for the Desert Shields this year. Gaines previously lived in Burbank, Calif., where she was a three-year starter at John Burroughs High School. She averaged 18.9 points and 5.1 assists per game last season and was a first-team all-CIF SS (Southern California) Division 2A First Team selection. In addition, she is a two-time Street & Smith’s honorable mention All-American and won a bronze medal with the West Team at the 2003 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival in Colorado Springs. Gaines averaged 6.0 points per game during the five-game tournament, which featured the top prep players from around the country. She is ranked 25th nationally by All-Game Sports, 52nd by Blue Star Index and 61st by All-Star Girls Report , and she is the second Las Vegas area resident in as many years to sign with Notre Dame — current Irish freshman guard Breona Gray graduated from Bishop Gorman High School last May.

With the addition of Allen, D’Amico and Gaines, Notre Dame has assembled the nation’s 14th-ranked recruiting class according to Blue Star Index. This marks the eighth consecutive year in which the Irish have attracted a Top 20 class, making Notre Dame one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have such a consistent run of recruiting success.

Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw tried her hand at writing during the past year and has co-authored a book with Bradley University professor Paul Gullifor entitled “Courting Success: Muffet McGraw’s Formula For Winning In Sports And In Life.” The book, which currently is in bookstores nationwide and may be purchased through on-line booksellers such as, touches on how, in the shadows of the nation’s most storied football program, McGraw has quietly built the women’s basketball program into a national power.

Women’s basketball has been one of the University’s most consistently successful varsity sport during the past 16 years, qualifying for the postseason 13 times, including 10 trips to the NCAA Tournament, five NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearances and two Final Fours berths. The team’s rise to national prominence was then cemented with a national championship in 2001. In short, the Notre Dame women’s basketball program has been steadily built into a perennial national championship contender, and its architect for those 16 years has been McGraw. Entering the 2003-04 season, the Pottsville, Pa., native has won 363 games at Notre Dame, has a stellar .725 winning percentage and was the consensus 2001 national Coach of the Year.

Personal accolades aside, McGraw has always been more concerned with off-court success than the progress of her teams. Accordingly, this book is a motivational and inspirational book in which she shares her ingredients for success — on and off the court. It provides lessons for those aspiring toward success in basketball, and in life, while illustrating why Muffet McGraw is one of college basketball’s most accomplished coaches.

Here’s a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women’s basketball games this season (additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date):

  • Jan. 1 vs. Marquette — New Year’s Day celebration; combo magnets to the first 1,500 fans
  • Jan. 10 vs. Virginia Tech — Mini-foam basketballs to first 1,000 fans
  • Jan. 13 vs. Connecticut — Irish celebration; shamrock lights to the first 5,000 fans

Notre Dame closes out its non-conference schedule Sunday at 3 p.m. (ET) when it pays a visit to No. 7/8 Purdue for the inaugural BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge, which will be televised nationally by ESPN2. The Boilermakers hold a 12-4 series lead over the Irish, including an active three-game winning streak that began after Notre Dame downed Purdue, 68-66 to win the 2001 national championship in St. Louis.

Purdue (9-1) will open its Big Ten schedule Friday at home against No. 10/9 Penn State before taking on Notre Dame. Although they have had some close calls this season, the only blemish on the Boilers’ resume to date is a 93-63 loss at fourth-ranked Duke in late November. Kansas State, Houston and UCLA are among the foes Purdue has defeated this season.