December 15, 1998

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame women’s basketball team (7-1, 1-1) plays its final two non-conference games of the season on the road as the sixth-ranked Irish travel to Tampa, Fla., to face South Florida in the Tampa Bay Shootout on Saturday, December 19 at 2:30 p.m. Following that contest, Notre Dame will be in action against Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich. on Monday, December 21 at 7:30 p.m.

For the third consecutive week, the Irish are sixth in the Associated Press Poll, but dropped one spot to seventh in the USA Today/ESPN ranking.

Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad, which played six of its first eight games at home, will now play four straight road games. After the Michigan State game, the Irish will not be in action until Wednesday, December 30 at 7:00 p.m. in a BIG EAST test at Boston College.


CONNECTICUT: Notre Dame lost for the first time this season as the Irish dropped a 106-81 decision to Connecticut at home. The loss was the first in 16 games at the Joyce Center for the Irish. Heading into the contrest with the Huskies, Notre Dame had tied a school mark with 15 consecutive home wins. Sheila McMillen (Rochester, Ind.) led the Irish with 21 points as she connected on six-of-nine shots from the field and was a perfect five-for-five from three-point range. McMillen also was a perfect four-for-four from the free throw line. Three other players were in double figures as Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) scored 17 points and dished off nine assists. Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.) netted 12 points and Ruth Riley (Macy, Ind.) chipped in 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Julie Henderson (Ann Arbor, Mich.) had a game-high and season-high eight rebounds in the contest.

VILLANOVA: Danielle Green’s 10-foot jumper with 9.8 seconds remaining lifted Notre Dame to a 63-62 victory over Villanova as the Irish rebounded from its loss to Connecticut. Green, the only Irish player to score in double figures in all eight games this season, finished the contest with a game-high 18 points. She also had seven rebounds in the game. Ruth Riley recorded her fourth double double of the season as she scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Sheila McMillen was the third Irish player in double figures as she chipped in 12 points. Notre Dame shot 47.3 percent from the field and outrebounded the Wildcats 40-23 in the game.

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 Regional 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 242-106 (.695) and in 16-plus campaigns overall, her teams have registered a 330-147 (.692) ledger.


SOUTH FLORIDA: This will be just the second meeting between the two teams. The schools first met last season as the Irish claimed a 73-50 victory at the Joyce Center.

MICHIGAN STATE: Notre Dame trails the Spartans in the series 6-2 and has dropped three straight to Michigan State. The Irish are 1-3 versus the Spartans in East Lansing. Mich. The two teams have not played each since December 21, 1995 when Michigan State claimed an 87-83 overtime victory at home.

Notre Dame’s 6-0 start was the best in school history. The best start ever by a Notre Dame team prior to this was in the program’s firsrt year (1977-78) when it started 5-0 before finishing up with a 13-4 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 the campaign with a 22-7 ledger.

On three other occasions, Notre Dame has won seven of its first eight games. The Irish got off to a 7-1 start in 1977-78 and again in 1978-79. The ’78-’79 squad finished with a 16-6 mark, its second season of varsity competition. Notre Dame last began a season 7-1 during the 1988-89 campaign (under head coach Muffet McGraw) as the Irish ended up with 21-11 record.

Danielle Green hit the game-winning shot against Villanova with 9.8 seconds remaining in the contest. It was the first game-winning shot of her career. Green, the only Irish player to score in double figures in all eight games, leads the team in scoring with a 17.0 points per game average. She also is second in the rebounding column with 7.9 rebounds per game.

Notre Dame’s 63 points against Villanova were the fewest scored by the Irish in any home or away game this season. Coach Muffet McGraw’s Irish had put up some big numbers in its first four home games as they averaged 91.5 ppg. (366 points). Notre Dame scored 99 points in the season opener against UCLA and went over the century mark for the first and only time this season in scoring 101 points against the Illini on November 24. Notre Dame is now averaging 85.0 ppg. (510 points) in six home contests. In just the two road games it has played in its first eight games, Notre Dame is averaging 72.5 points per game away from the Joyce Center.

Senior guard Sheila McMillen has moved to 12th on the all-time Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,084 points. McMillen, who became the 14th women’s basketball player to reach the 1,000-point mark, has a 10.0 career scoring average. She has played in 108 career games and made 46 starts in her three-plus seasons. Currently, McMillen is the team’s second-leading scorer averaging 15.1 points per game.

During its three-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame has proven to be one of the league’s most dominant teams. The Irish have a 45-11 record (80.4percent) in regular season games and a 6-3 mark (66.7 percent) in BIG EAST tournament action for an overall reocrd of 51-14 (78.5 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.

Notre Dame has compiled a 27-3 (.900) 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.

Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 189-65 mark for a .744 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. Prior to the loss to Connecticut on December 8, Notre Dame had tied the school record with 15 straight victories at home. The last loss prior to this one was against Connecticut on December 6, 1997. Ironically, it was the Huskies who stopped the Irish 15-game winning streak in January of 1996 with an 87-64 victory.

Notre Dame’s three wins over ranked opponents thus far are the most by an Irish teams during the regular season. Coach Muffet McGraw’s squad has posted victories UCLA and Duke, when both teams were ranked sixth in the polls, and also had a win over then 25th-ranked Illinois. Last season, Notre Dame was 0-5 versus ranked opponents until its second round win in the NCAA tournament versus Texas Tech (ranked sixth at the time of the game).

Ruth Riley recorded her fourth double double of the season and 13th of her career against Villanova as she scored 13 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Riley is averaging double figures in both scoring (13.3 ppg.) and rebounding (10.0 rpg.). She leads the team in field goal percentage (56.3%) and is second in the nation with 4.3 blocked shots per game.

Freshman Sherisha Hills returns to her hometown of Tampa, Fla., when the Irish play South Florida on Saturday. The 5-8 guard played at the Academy of the Holy Names. Hills, who earned BIG EAST Co-Rookie of the Week honors earlier this season, is averaging 8.0 points and 2.1 rebounds. She has scored in double figures in three games this season and netted a career-high 16 points coming off the bench in Notre Dame’s win at San Francisco.

Four players are averaging double figures scoring for the Irish this season. Danielle Green leads the with 17.0 ppg., followed by Sheila McMillen (15.1 ppg.), Niele Ivey (14.5 ppg.) and Ruth Riley (13.3 ppg.). In three of Notre Dame’s first eight games this season, the Irish have had five players in double figures scoring. Against Illinois, four players scored in doubles, including three with 20 or more points.

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).

After playing six of its first eight games on the road, Notre Dame will play its next four games on the road — 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.

In the NCAA statistics released on December 14, Ruth Riley is second in blocked shots (4.3 per game) and Niele Ivey is 16th in assists (6.5 per game). As a team, Notre Dame ranks 18th in scoring offense (81.9 ppg.), 11th in free throw percentage (75.9%) and eighth in rebounding margin (10.4 per game).

(Week of Dec. 13)

                        LW 1. Connecticut (8-0)    1 2. Tennessee (6-1)      2 3. Purdue (6-1)         3 4. Lousiana Tech (6-1)  4 5. Georgia (8-0)        5 6. NOTRE DAME (7-1)     6 7. No. Carolina (11-1)  7 8. UCLA (6-2)           8 9. Colo. St. (10-0)    1110. Texas Tech (7-1)    1211. Alabama (8-2)        912. Penn State (7-1)    2013. Florida (9-2)       1714. Clemson (7-0)       1515. Old Dominion (6-2)  1016. Rutgers (8-2)       1417. Duke (7-4)          1618. Iowa State (6-1)    1819. Virginia Tech (8-0) 2220. Nebraska (9-1)      1921. George Wash. (6-2)  1322. Virginia (5-2)      2123. Kansas (7-3)        2324  Memphis (7-1)       NR25. Santa Clara (7-0)   NR

(Week of Dec. 13)

                        LW 1. Connecticut (8-0)    1 2. Tennessee (6-1)      2 3. Purdue (6-1)         3 4. Louisiana Tech (6-1) 4 5. Georgia (8-0)        5 6. No. Carolina (11-1)  7 7. NOTRE DAME (7-1)     6 8. UCLA (6-2)          10 9. Colo. State (10-0)  1210. Texas Tech (7-1)    1111. Alabama (8-2)        812. Clemson (7-0)       1413. Florida (9-2)       1614  Rutgers (8-2)       1315. Old Dominion (6-2)   916. Iowa State (6-1)    1717. Penn State (7-1)    2318. Nebraska (9-1)      1819. Duke (7-4)          1520. Virginia Tech (8-0) 2221. Kansas (7-3)        1922. Virginia (5-2)      2423. George Wash. (6-2)  2124. UC-Sant. Barb.(5-2) NR25. SW Miss. St. (7-2)  NR

(through games of Dec. 13)

                   BIG EAST      Overall                 Final Record    Record Connecticut          2-0           8-0Rutgers              2-0           8-2Miami                2-0           5-2Pittsburgh           1-0           5-2Boston College       1-1           7-1NOTRE DAME           1-1           7-1West Virginia        1-1           5-3Georgetown           0-1           5-3St. John's           0-1           4-7Seton Hall           0-1           3-6Providence           0-1           1-7Villanova            0-1           4-5Syracuse             0-2           4-6