Game 8 Preview: No. 2 UConn

Game 8: #1/1 Notre Dame (7-0) vs. #2/2 UConn (6-0)
 When:  Sunday, Dec. 2 | 4:00 pm ET
 Where:  Notre Dame, Ind. | Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
 Watch:  ESPN | Watch Online
 Listen:  Pulse FM 96.9/92.1/103.1 | Bob Nagle (PxP) | Listen Online
 Live Scoring:  StatBroadcast
 Notes:  Notre Dame | UConn
 Social:  @NDWBB
 Promotion:  GREEN OUT 
 Reminder:  Irish have a clear bag policy for the 2018-19 season and moving forward

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – It’s a showdown between the top two teams in the nation, as the No. 1 Notre Dame women’s basketball team (7-0) hosts No. 2 UConn (6-0) on Sunday, Dec. 2, in the Jimmy V Classic Game. Tip-off is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET on ESPN. Sunday’s game is completely sold out, marking the first time since Feb. 26, 2017, versus Florida State. 

Purcell Pavilion continues to be one of the toughest venues to play in women’s hoops. Over the last 100 games at home, the Irish have only lost twice, with both losses occurring to UConn. The Irish are currently enjoy a 28-game win streak at home.

Notre Dame is 469-92 all-time inside Purcell Pavilion. The Irish have sold out Purcell Pavilion 52 times and boasts a 43-9 record in those instances, including winners of 34 of their last 38. 

Most notably, however, has been how dominant the Irish have been in league play at home. Notre Dame has won a school-record 50 consecutive home conference games, beginning with a 66-47 win over Providence on Feb. 14, 2012, in BIG EAST play.

Over the last 16 matchups between Notre Dame and UConn, the series is split even at eight-apiece. Furthermore, when looking at the last 10 years, Notre Dame has defeated UConn 8 times, all other teams have won just six.

In last year’s Jimmy V Classic game in Hartford, the Irish had a 10-point lead with 7:48 left in the game, before a late surge from the Huskies resulted in an 80-71 loss. However, the Irish got the last laugh when Ogunbowale delivered the first half of her ‘Ice Twice’ in overtime to seal the 91-89 victory. Notables from the win include Jackie Young’s career high 32 points and the fact that Notre Dame’s 91 points were the most given up by UConn since relinquishing 92 to Tennessee (92-88 loss) in Knoxville on Feb. 1, 2001.

The win gave Notre Dame its fourth against UConn in the NCAA Tournament, which doubles any other team in the country.

Sunday’s matchup will mark the sixth time Notre Dame and UConn will square off as the No. 1 & 2 teams in the country, yet only the second time with the Irish ranked No. 1. The previous was 17 years ago in the 2001 Big East Final.

The title says it all about junior guard Jackie Young. Last season, the Irish played 16 ranked opponents and in those games Young outperformed her season scoring average, with 16.6 points on 51.8 percent shooting, to go with her 6.8 rebounds and 3.5 assists against top-25 teams.

The trend of Big Game Jackie has carried over into the 2018-19 season. Versus No. 15 DePaul, Young tallied a 28-point, 12-rebound, double-double, also converting a career best 11-of-12 from the free-throw line. Next was a 23-point, seven assist and nine rebound performance against No. 9 Oregon State in the Vancouver Showcase title game. Lastly, Young recorded 15 points, seven rebounds and six assists vs. No. 14 Iowa.

Thus, against the three ranked opponents this year, Young is averaging 22.0 points, 9.3 rebounds and 5.0 assists. 

After shattering the Notre Dame single season record for 20-point games with 25 last year, Ogunbowale is on a whole another level this year. The senior is riding a career best seven straight games with 20 or more points. No other player in the country can claim that stat. The seven straight also set a new Notre Dame record, previously held by ’97 grad Katryna Gaither, who started the 1996-96 season with six in a row.

Ogunbowale now has 40 career games with 20-plus points, passing Ruth Riley’s 37 for fourth all-time. Next up is Skylar Diggins-Smith at No. 3 with 45. 

After dropping 30 points on No. 14 Iowa on Nov. 29, Ogunbowale now has three 30-point games on the year. No other player in the country boasts three heading into the weekend.

Ogunbowale is now up to seven 30-point games in her career, tying Jewell Loyd for the all-time mark at Notre Dame. Loyd also holds the record for most in a season with four. 

Sitting just five wins away from 900 in her career, Coach McGraw is quickly approaching another major milestone. In fact, McGraw is on pace to become the fourth fastest Division I coach to reach the 900 career win milestone:

Geno Auriemma – 1,034 games
Pat Summitt – 1,072 games
Tara VanDerveer – 1,104 games

Three ranked matchups so far this year and three wins in which Notre Dame scored over 90 points. In fact, Notre Dame dropped 101 at No. 15 DePaul and 105 against No. 14 Iowa. The Irish are shooting 52.1 percent from the field against ranked opposition.

Last season, the Irish finished with 13 ranked wins, including 11 of which came away from home — both stats led the nation. 

— ND —