Amalie Arena

Then There Were Four: Tampa Preview

NCAA Final Four: #1 Notre Dame (34-3)
 Where:  Tampa, Fla. | Amalie Arena (20,900)
 Round:  National Semifinal | #2 UConn (35-2)
 When:  Friday, April 5 | 9 p.m. ET
 Watch:  ESPN2 | Adam Amin, Rebecaa Lobo, Kara Lawson, Holly Rowe
 Listen:  Pulse FM 96.9/92.1/103.1 | Bob Nagle
 Notes:  Notre Dame
 Round:  National Championship | #2 Oregon or #1 Baylor
 When:  Sunday, April 7 | 6 p.m. ET
 Watch:  ESPN
 Social:  @NDWBB | #GoIrish 
 NCAA HQ:  Ticket info + Fan Activities — click here

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Then there were four. For the second straight year and ninth time overall, the Notre Dame women’s basketball team will take to the NCAA Final Four stage. Just like last year, the Fighting Irish (34-3) will have to first go through its long rival in the Connecticut Huskies (35-2) in the National Semifinal. It will mark the 50th matchup between the two storied programs. Tip is set for 9 p.m. ET on Friday, April 5, inside Amalie Arena in Tampa. It will follow the 7 p.m. tip between Baylor and Oregon. Both games will air on ESPN2. 

For all fan info, check out the NCAA Women’s Final Four site by clicking here

Notre Dame is in its 26th NCAA Championship and 24th in a row. Their 24 straight appearances are the fourth longest active streak in the country and fifth best all-time. The Irish are 66-23 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, as their 66 wins rank fourth all-time.

Notre Dame joins Louisiana Tech, Baylor, USC and Stanford with two NCAA titles behind only UConn (11) and Tennessee (8). Notre Dame is one of only four schools (Tennessee, UConn and Louisiana Tech) to reach six NCAA Title games. Their nine Final Four appearances are the fifth-most of any school behind Tennessee (18), UConn (18), Stanford (13) and La Tech (10).

The starting fivesome of Ogunbowale, Young, Mabrey, Shepard and Turner are officially the most prolific scoring group in NCAA Division I history. The ND five have amassed 10,070 points, becoming the first group to ever accumulate 10,000 points. The 2017-18 Ohio State squad is in second place with 8,492 points. The highest total on the men’s side – the 2008-09 North Carolina team with 8,216 points.

Three players –> three different record holders. Arike Ogunbowale became Notre Dame’s all-time scoring leader on Feb. 21 vs Duke. The senior surpassed Skylar Diggins-Smith’s record of 2,357 career points and now sits with 2,572 career points.

On March 9 in the ACC Semis vs Syracuse, Marina Mabrey became Notre Dame’s made three-pointers record holder, surpassing Alicia Ratay (262). The senior now boasts 267 career made threes.

Next, on March 25 vs Michigan State, Brianna Turner became the new rebounding leader at Notre Dame, surpassing Ruth Riley’s mark of 1,007. Turner now possesses 1,010 rebounds.

However, Turner may not be done breaking records because she could become the new all-time blocks leader this weekend. Turner boasts 366 blocks while Ruth Riley holds the record with 370.

With Notre Dame’s 91-89 OT win over UConn in last year’s National Semifinal, the Irish moved to 4-3 all-time against the Huskies in the NCAA Tournament. The four wins stands as the most against UConn and doubles the next highest team.

Now, when just looking at National Semifinal games, the Irish are 4-1 against the Huskies and are 2-0 in Final Four overtime games. 

Overall, over the last 11 years, Notre Dame has defeated UConn eight times — all other Division I teams have combined for eight wins.

Notre Dame’s 91 points last year were the most given up by UConn since relinquishing 92 to Tennessee (92-88 loss) in Knoxville on Feb. 1, 2001.

Coach McGraw has often stated that she boasts a team of All-Americans and any starter can step up on a given day. The starting five represent over 90 percent of the team’s scoring, as all five average over 12.5 ppg – no other team can claim that about their starters.

In addition, the team averages 20.6 assists/game which ranks 4th in the nation, as Ogunbowale, Mabrey and Young all average over 3.9 assists/game and rank within the top 10 in the ACC in assists. 

Also keep in mind, Notre Dame’s starters have accomplished great numbers against the nation’s No. 1 rated strength of schedule, in the No. 1 RPI ranked conference in the ACC and with the No. 1 ranked overall team RPI.

The Irish boast 14 RPI top 25 wins, which not only leads the country, but essentially doubles the next best team. Notre Dame boasts wins over Louisville (x2), Iowa, NC State, Syracuse (x2), Marquette, Gonzaga, DePaul, Drake, Florida State, Oregon State, Texas A&M and Stanford.

The Irish also boast 12 top-25 ranked wins and five against the top 10 – both lead the nation.

The 2013-14 Irish squad led by Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa hold the program record for highest scoring average for a season at 86.1 ppg (3,271 points in 38 games). However, that number is about to be topped by this year’s high octane squad. The 2018-19 Irish boast the No. 1 offense in the country, averaging 89.0 ppg.

This year’s squad also boasts the nation’s top shooting percentage at 51.6 percent. That number tops the 2013-14 squad’s 50.6 percent, but ranks second to the 1987-88 squad’s 53.2 percent. Note the ’88 Irish shot significantly less, making 836-of-1,572. 

Shepard is currently riding the best stretch of her season posting nine double-doubles in the last 12 games. Last year, Shepard was a double-double machine in March, recording six double-doubles over the last eight games. Next, Young has garnered five double-doubles over the last eight games. She has achieved 12 double-doubles this season, which continues to break the program record for a guard. In addition, her 17 career double-doubles ties Lindsay Schrader (17) for the ND record for a guard.

2,000 POINTS & 1,000 REBOUNDS
Shepard reached a very rare milestone at UNC on Jan. 27 — surpassing 2,000 career points and 1,000 career rebounds. The senior now has 2,309 points and 1,225 rebounds. The only Irish player to ever achieve this impressive feat was 2001 graduate Ruth Riley, who garnered 2,072 points and 1,007 rebounds. Lastly, Shepard is just 1-of-9 active DI players right now to possess over 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

However, one additional Irish player is quickly approaching the milestone. Brianna Turner sits with 1,021 career rebounds and 10 points shy of 2,000.

Last season, a program first occurred, when three Irish players all recorded over 100 assists in a season. Mabrey led with 168, followed by 139 from Young and 105 from Ogunbowale. This year, the Irish have taken it one more level as four players have all surpassed the century mark: Young (184), Ogunbowale (145), Mabrey (156) and Shepard (117).

Only Notre Dame and Baylor have four players with 100+ assists this season.

— ND —