Recently in Women's Basketball Category

Rocky Mountain High - 3.29.12

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The women's basketball team headed to Denver Thursday afternoon in preparation for its showdown against Connecticut in the Final Four.

The Irish left the South Bend Regional Airport with a larger than normal traveling party, which included the Irish pep band, school administrators and people like myself who are part of the extended entourage. For you HBO fans, I am presently, 'Turtle' to the women's team's 'Vince'.

Upon arrival to the Denver International Airport, we were whisked away in three separate buses - the team bus, the band bus and the Magic School Bus (family bus).

If you've ever been to DIA, you are aware of the lack of elevation change in an area that is known for the Rocky Mountains; which led a sage thinker to repeatedly say, "I expected the Rocky Mountains to be a little rockier than this." I have prepared myself to hear the utterances of those words at least another 1,842 times during this trip.

Having graduated last May from a public university in the state of Indiana (the one with five men's basketball championships), my body is used to being filled with a combination of grease and Top Ramen. Needless to say, when I heard we would be eating at Elway's, a nationally-renowned steakhouse in the heart of downtown Denver, myself and every other member of the traveling party were salivating at the food we were about to devour.

Other than being thoroughly disappointed that the '5,280 Peanut Butter Cups' was the name of the dessert and not the quantity we would be receiving and the fact that there was no 'Tebow'n' steak on the menu, the spread surpassed the high expectations that were set prior to the meal.

After dinner, we set off for the hotel and were greeted by a collection of adoring fans (of the team, not myself), the University of Denver pep band and the step team from Truth University (one of these things actually didn't happen, I'll let you deduct which one).

The Denver Final Four committee presented head coach Muffet McGraw and the team with a ball with the Final Four logo emblazoned on it and welcomed the entire traveling party to the 'Centennial State' in the lobby of the team hotel.

As the team settled in for the night in preparation for the long week ahead, they most certainly had visions of their season-long moniker, "For Love and Glory," bouncing around in their heads.

Keep up-to-date with your women's basketball team as its looks to bring home a second NCAA Championship - and first since 2001 - by checking back with us at Irish UNDerground for daily recaps and following the minute-by-minute happenings via Twitter (@NotreDameWBB).

- Aaron Horvath

The Season So Far

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Notre Dame hit the road for Denver yesterday afternoon, in preparation for its Sunday evening Final Four matchup against Connecticut. After four rounds, eight days of competition and 60 games, only the four #1 seeds remaining standing in this year's tournament.

Before focusing on the game between the Fighting Irish and the Huskies, here's a look at some incredible statistics from the season so far, pulled from the game notes compiled by women's basketball sports information director Chris Masters.

  • - Notre Dame has reached the Final Four for the second consecutive season and fourth time overall. The other two appearances were 1997 and 2001.
  • - Posting a 15-1 conference record, Notre Dame earned its first outright BIG EAST regular season title and second overall.
  • - The Irish rank second in the nation in scoring offense (79.2 ppg) and scoring margin (+27.7 ppg).
  • - In 16 games against Top 25 opponents, Notre Dame has posted a 14-2 record, including a 10-2 mark away from home.
  • - Eleven of the 14 victories against Top 25 opponents have been by double digits. Six of those have been by at least 25 points.
  • - Notre Dame's 34 victories ties a school record (posted a 34-2 record in 2000-01 national championship season).
  • - Of those 34 wins, 23 have come by 20+ points and 14 have been by at least 30 points.
  • - The Irish have scored at least 100 points twice and have topped the 90-point mark nine times.
  • - Notre Dame has appeared in the media rankings for 96 straight weeks and is currently ranked fourth in the latest polls.
  • - Over the past 16 seasons (dating back to 1996-97), Notre Dame ranks fourth in the nation in victories, with 408.

And here's a quick look at a few of those standout victories against ranked opponents:
  • - Jan. 23: Defeated No. 7/9 Tennessee, 72-44 - fewest points allowed against a top-10 opponent and the Lady Vols' fewest points scored in the Pat Summitt era
  • - Jan. 31: Defeated No. 13/14 Rutgers, 71-41 - largest margin of victory ever on the road against a ranked opponent
  • - Mar. 25: Defeated No. 21/25 St. Bonaventure, 79-35 - largest margin of victory against a ranked opponent
  • - Mar. 27: Defeated No. 5 Maryland, 80-49 - largest margin of victory over a top-10 team

Stay tuned to for coverage of the Fighting Irish in Denver and more on Irish UNDerground regarding Notre Dame's upcoming Final Four game against UConn.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Four Down, Two To Go

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Well, add Tuesday night's 80-49 crushing of #2 seed Maryland to the growing list of impressive victories for the 2011-12 Notre Dame women's basketball team. By this time next week, the Fighting Irish hope to add another pair of big wins, and more importantly, a national championship to their stellar resume.

The game started out as expected - a back and forth contest between two of the best teams in women's college basketball. But midway through the first half, Notre Dame began a 14-0 run, and at that point, could have kept on running to Denver.

The Fighting Irish led, 40-21 at the break, and did not have a second half letdown against a team that erased an 18-point deficit in the Sweet Sixteen versus Texas A&M. Not one bit.

As they have done multiple times this season, Notre Dame flat-out dominated its opponent - and on Tuesday, it was not just any opponent. It was the 31-4, ACC Champion, expected-by-many-to-pull-off-the-upset Maryland Terrapins.

To say Skylar Diggins had a huge game might be an understatement. The junior guard scored 22 points, dished out 11 assists, pulled down 10 rebounds and grabbed five steals to record the first triple-double of her Notre Dame career, and the first for the program since Feb. 15, 1990 (more than five months before Skylar was born).

Natalie Achonwa had a stellar game with 18 points and seven rebounds off the bench, while Kayla McBride (16) and Natalie Novosel (14) also scored in double figures.

The Irish dominance was not just on the scoreboard, but also in the box score. They outrebounded the bigger Terrapins team, 40-26.

Notre Dame will join the other three #1 seeds (Baylor, Stanford and Connecticut) in the Final Four, where it will take on the Huskies for the fourth time this season, in Sunday's first semifinal. The Fighting Irish won both regular season match-ups, but fell to UConn in the BIG EAST championship game.

Sunday's game will air on ESPN at 6:30 pm ET. Stay right here at for more coverage from Raleigh, and soon, the Rocky Mountains, as the Fighting Irish chase a national championship.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Senior guard Fraderica Miller is not one of the stars of this year's Notre Dame women's basketball team. Her impact does not always show up in the box score, but as WNDU's Angelo Di Carlo explains, the Fighting Irish might not be where they are today - playing for a trip to the Final Four - if not for the future accountant and her scrappy defense. Check out Di Carlo's story below:

Fraderica Miller averages just two points and two and half rebounds a game for the Notre Dame women's basketball team.

She's not a starter and she's not even Muffet McGraw's 1st option off the bench.

But the top seeded Irish wouldn't be playing for a spot in the Final Four Tuesday night at 9pm against Maryland in Raleigh without the scrappy senior from Georgia.

Miller could probably start for 80 percent of the college basketball teams in the country. But she plays for one of the nation's elite programs and starting isn't an option. It doesn't bother her one bit.

"I love being a part of this team," Miller explains. "There's no other team I'd want to play for. No other coach I want to play for. No girls I want to be around all the time.

Make no mistake, she's a difference maker.

"When Fraderica comes in, the energy level changes," explains Irish coach Muffet McGraw. "She's really aggressive and so fast. I think they have a hard time believing she's still staying with them when they get by them."

Her teammates rave about the spark she brings.

"She's a burst of energy," fellow senior Brittany Mallory explains. "She comes in and she's running all over the place."

"She just is able to come in here and create havoc for us and it really turns over into offensive points," says senior Natalie Novosel.

Miller averages just 13 minutes a game but she's come up with 47 steals this season. That's a steal every 9.5 minutes, a better ratio than everyone on the team--including Skylar Diggins.

"She's a blue collar player," Diggins explains. "She does whatever we need her to do."

Fraderica doesn't care what it takes. She'll put her on body on the line every single play and she does---diving for loose balls, poking and prodding at her opponents.

"it's just how I play," Miller says with a smile. "I've always been like that. Every time you hit the court you play as hard as you can."

She's hit the court hard on occasion. She took a nasty spill against Providence earlier this season. Later in the night, she fainted and was rushed to the infirmary. Lucky everything was ok. She can joke about it now.

"I've had my fair share of bumps and bruises along the way," Miller says with a laugh. "It's always been like that. I'm accident prone. I go out there and I have some war wounds."

Deep down, Fraderica is a softy. On Senior Day, tears came out. Then after the victory over Cal in the NCAA Tourney last Tuesday night at Purcell Pavilion, it happened again in the Irish locker room.

"It just hit me that that was my last time playing in the Joyce Center," Miller says. "With the win and moving on to the Sweet 16, I just got a little emotional."

That's how much Notre dame means to her. So you can understand why she's not ready to hand in that uniform. She wants to wear it for three more games.

"Since the moment we lost last year in the Championship its been on our minds to get back to this point and we're really excited and really grateful to make it to this point and we're not done, we're motivated and focused right now and we're ready to get back to the Championship," Miller says.

You know she'll give it her all to make that happen--even if it results in a few more war wounds.

- Angelo Di Carlo
And while we're on the subject, here's a great feature on Fraderica from earlier in the season:

Video Blog: Balancing Act

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Life on the road is not all fun and games when you're a student-athlete. Skylar Diggins returns in her latest video blog for ESPNW with a look at her study habits during the NCAA tournament.

Skylar and the Fighting Irish take on Maryland tomorrow night at 9 pm ET on ESPN, with a spot in the Final Four on the line.

Sights And Sounds from Raleigh

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Photo courtesy of Michael & Susan Bennett/Lighthouse Imaging

The top-seeded Notre Dame women's basketball team was recently featured in an article from Yahoo! contributor Eric Holden. But the story wasn't about the keys to victory or the Irish's best players. Instead, it focused on who fans should follow on Twitter. Of course it did. This is 2012. Check out Holden's list below:

According to a Yahoo! Sports report, Skylar Diggins is part of a special club of lefty guards who have been instrumental in guiding their teams to the regional semifinals of the NCAA women's basketball tournament that continues this weekend.

"Lefties, they are hard to play against," UConn coach Geno Auriemma said. "It takes you a little bit of time to get used to them. It throws you all off what you're used to doing."

Diggins and the No. 1-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish will face the No. 5-seeded St. Bonaventure Bonnies on March 25 at PNC Arena in Raleigh, NC.

Here's a look at the top five Notre Dame Fighting Irish women's basketball players to follow on Twitter:

Skylar Diggins

Diggins, a junior guard, is the premier women's college basketball player in the county. Her 162,000 followers on Twitter is a true testament to just how popular she has become amongst Notre Dame fans and non-fans alike. Diggins' popularity reaches far beyond the ranks of just the Fighting Irish faithful.

On March 22, she tweeted "My coach @IrishCoachIvey is the best-dressed on the sidelines every game. Holla." Follow Diggins on Twitter @skydigg4.

Kayla McBride

McBride, a sophomore guard from Erie, PA, is a powerful wing player who found her range from beyond the arc this year. On March 22, she tweeted "All this basketball..I'm ready to get on the court!" Follow McBride on Twitter @kaymac_2123.

Niele Ivey

Ivey, a former WNBA player who is now an assistant coach for Notre Dame, was an All-American point guard during her college playing days with the Irish.

On March 23, she tweeted "Charter flight to Raleigh!!!! North Carolina stand up!!!!!! We in the houseeeeeeeee!!!!" Follow Ivey on Twitter @irishcoachivey.

Brittany Mallory

Mallory, a 5'10" guard from Baltimore, MD, is a smart leader on the floor due to her veteran presence. She has been a team co-captain each of the past two seasons.

Her Twitter account is protected, so only confirmed followers can access her page. However, she has over 1,700 followers, so she doesn't seem to mind allowing fans to follow her on the site. Her Twitter handle can be located @bmallory22. Fighting Irish Assistant Coach Carol Owens is also on Twitter @goirishcoachO.

Natalie Achonwa

Achonwa, a 6'3" sophomore from Ontario, is the first international player to suit up for Notre Dame in the program's 35-year history. She has become a fan favorite despite it being just her second year with the team.

On March 23, she tweeted "fading out watching these bball games.... #nightnight world. xo, dream big!" Follow Achonwa on Twitter @natachon.

Eric Holden is a big-time Skylar Diggins fan and will be cheering for Notre Dame to win big this year. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.

With Sunday's 79-35 win against the Bonnies, the Irish advanced to the Elite Eight, where they will take on #2 seed Maryland on Tuesday at 9 pm ET on ESPN.

A Perfect Sunday Afternoon

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What a day to be a Notre Dame athletics fan.

It started at 1:00 pm with another great crowd on hand at Arlotta Stadium, as the #6 men's lacrosse team opened up BIG EAST play against Rutgers. The Fighting Irish got four goals from Sean Rogers, two from Jim Marlatt and one apiece from six other scorers to win their fifth game in a row and improve to 6-1 overall.


At the same time the laxers were locked in a close one at Arlotta, the Irish squad on the diamond had a tough BIG EAST game at nearby Frank Eck Stadium. It took seven different pitchers, but the Notre Dame baseball team also won its fifth in a row, closing out a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh with a 7-5 win.

Notre Dame held a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, but had managed just three hits through the first seven innings. Catcher Joe Hudson extended the lead to 7-3 with what turned out to be a crucial three-run double, as the Panthers were able to plate a pair of runs in the final frame.


Freshman Pat Connaughton picked up his first career victory, pitching 2.2 innings in relief, while Dan Slania came on for the final out, striking out Casey Roche to record his sixth save of the season.

The NCAA women's basketball tournament continued at 2:30 pm in Raleigh, N.C., as head coach Muffet McGraw's team took on St. Bonaventure in the Sweet Sixteen. After a dominant 79-35 win against the Bonnies, it's now "3 down, 3 to go" in the quest for a national championship.

Natalie Novosel had 16 points, Kayla McBride scored 10, and Kaila Turner added 14 off the bench to lead a balanced offensive attack. The Irish take on Maryland on Tuesday as they seek to earn a spot in the Final Four for the second year in a row.

Perfect spring weather in South Bend and three big wins from Notre Dame lacrosse, baseball and women's basketball. All in all, a great Sunday afternoon for the Fighting Irish.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Live Blog: Baseball vs. Pittsburgh

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Notre Dame returns to the diamond this afternoon, going for the sweep in its weekend BIG EAST series against Pittsburgh. will stream the game live at 1:00 pm ET, but Irish UNDerground will also have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's Irish baseball action. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

With its win over California on Tuesday, the Notre Dame women's basketball team moved one step closer to its goal - a national championship. This weekend, the Fighting Irish will continue that pursuit when they travel to Raleigh, N.C. to take on fifth-seed St. Bonaventure in a Sweet Sixteen game.

Tip-off is set for approximately 2:32 pm ET, following the 12:04 pm ET matchup between #2 seed Maryland and #3 seed Texas A&M.

Before Notre Dame and St. Bonaventure contend for a berth in the Elite Eight, here's some more information on the Fighting Irish's opponent:

  • Record: 31-3 (at-large bid)
  • Coach: Jim Crowley (12th season)
  • Best wins: at Temple (74-65), at Dayton (56-55), vs. Marist (67-56)
  • Home arena: Reilly Center (capacity: 5,480)
  • Best players: Jessica Jenkins, Sr., G (14.3 PPG), Megan Van Tatenhove, Sr., F (13.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG)
  • Deepest tournament run: Sweet Sixteen (2012)
  • NCAA history: First tournament appearance
  • How it got here: First round - Defeated #12 seed Florida Gulf Coast University, 72-65 OT, Second round - Defeated #13 seed Marist, 66-63

And a few facts about the university:

  • Location: Allegany, New York (approximately 80 miles south of Buffalo)
  • Founded: 1858
  • Conference: Atlantic-10
  • Enrollment: 1,957 undergraduates, 505 graduates
  • Academics: More than 50 undergraduate majors and programs, 20 graduate programs from the schools of Arts & Sciences, Business, Education, Journalism/Mass Communication, and Franciscan Studies
  • Religious Affiliation: Catholic (Franciscan)
  • Mascot: Bonnies
  • Colors: Brown and white
  • Notable alum: Bob Lanier (basketball Hall of Famer, led St. Bonaventure to the 1970 Final Four)

There are certainly a few similarities between the Bonnies and the Irish. Both have just three losses, both won their conference's regular season championship, and both fell in the conference tournament title game (ND versus Connecticut, St. Bonaventure against Dayton). Not to mention, both universities are founded in the Catholic faith.

Tune in on Sunday afternoon as head coach Muffet McGraw's team looks to reach its second consecutive Elite Eight. The game will air on ESPN2 and we'll have pre- and post-game coverage right here on

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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Event Calendar

October 30
7:00 PM
St Francis Ill
Notre Dame, Ind. (Purcell Pavilion)

October 30
Intrasquad Scrimmage
Notre Dame, Ind. (Frank Eck Stadium)
October 30
7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

October 30
5:00 PM
Michigan State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Rolfs Aquatic Center)

Live Stats
October 30
5:00 PM
Michigan State
Notre Dame, Ind. (Rolfs Aquatic Center)

Live Stats
October 30
7:30 PM
North Carolina State
Raleigh, N.C.

Live Stats
October 30
ACC Championship
Tallahassee, Fla. (Apalachee County Park)
October 31
8:00 PM
Philadelphia, Pa.

Live Stats
October 31
Intrasquad Scrimmage
Notre Dame, Ind. (Frank Eck Stadium)
October 31
2:00 PM
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

October 31
3:05 PM
Hartford, Conn. (XL Center)

October 31
3:30 PM
Purdue/Ohio State
West Lafayette, Ind. (Boilermaker Aquatic Center)
November 1
Intrasquad Scrimmage
Notre Dame, Ind. (Frank Eck Stadium)
November 1
1:00 PM
North Carolina
Chapel Hill, N.C.

Live Stats
November 1
2:35 PM
Brooklyn, N.Y. (Barclays Center)

November 4
7:00 PM
ACC First Round
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