We've got a good one on our hands tonight. The Notre Dame women's basketball team returned to the Purcell Pavilion court on Tuesday for a second round NCAA tournament contest against #8 seed California. After leading the Fighting Irish with 15 points in Sunday's win against Liberty, Kayla McBride picked up where she left off, draining her first two jump shots to excite the crowd early. Despite playing against a top-seeded Notre Dame squad on its home floor, from the opening tip-off, Cal was not intimidated. The Golden Bears jumped out to a 9-8 lead at the first media timeout, never trailed by more than six and hung with the Irish throughout the first half. Cal even took the lead with under a minute to play, before Notre Dame tied it after a quick timeout. The half was a tale of two different stat lines. Cal made four shots behind the arc, while Notre Dame took advantage of 12 free throws, knocking down 11 of those shots. Unfortunately for the Irish, the free throw line was the only place the shots were falling. They were 0-for-6 from long range, and just 34.5% from the field. Whether or not Notre Dame advances to Raleigh, tonight marks the end of a great era at the Purcell Pavilion for four Irish seniors who are playing in their final game in front of the home fans - Brittany Mallory, Devereaux Peters, Natalie Novosel and Fraderica Miller. Offensively, it was Novosel who led Notre Dame with 17 points. Her huge and-1 layup with just over four minutes left in the half absolutely ignited the crowd and gave the Irish their largest lead (six) of the game so far. From the looks of it, this one's going to come down to the wire. Whether or not that's a good thing, we'll find out in twenty minutes. - Josh Flynt ('11)
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Photo by Michael & Susan Bennett/Lighthouse ImagingNo, I'm not talking about The Masters. But rather, the Notre Dame women's basketball and the post-season fashion of the Fighting Irish. On St. Patrick's Day 1997, head coach Muffet McGraw's team took on Texas in a second round NCAA tournament contest. In the spirit of the holiday, the Fighting Irish painted their nails green before the game. Notre Dame defeated Texas, 86-83, and after advancing to their first Final Four with two more victories, the green polish became a tournament staple. The male travel party members, such as associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis show their solidarity by painting their left pinky finger green. Coach Tsipis has also been known to shave his head for the tournament. This year, the polish of choice for the Irish is Sally Hansen's "Going Green," according to the team's Facebook page. The March Madness traditions however, do not stop with the nail polish. Though not exclusive to the tournament, Notre Dame's kelly green road uniforms most often appear during the postseason. The Fighting Irish sported the alternate unis in last year's Final Four in Indianapolis.
Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre DameDuring Sunday's first round game against Liberty, Notre Dame broke out its alternate home white jerseys with green trim, as well as green shoes. The Irish are 6-1 in those uniforms, which they will presumably also wear tonight against California.
Photo by Michael & Susan Bennett/Lighthouse ImagingThe Fighting Irish take on the eighth-seeded Golden Bears tonight in the Purcell Pavilion at 7:20 pm ET. Catch the game on ESPN2 or if you can, make the trip to campus as Notre Dame looks to punch a ticket to Raleigh. - Josh Flynt ('11)
It's different than her regular video blog, but Skylar Diggins returns on ESPNW, talking about how she and her Fighting Irish teammates stay healthy during the March Madness.
Skylar Diggins (@skydigg4) is back with episode 2 in her video blog for ESPNW. Check out the behind the scenes footage from Skylar and the Irish as they prepared for their first round NCAA tournament game against Liberty:
Before taking on Liberty in Sunday's first round NCAA tournament action at Purcell Pavilion, Skylar Diggins and her teammates spent some time at the driving range and batting cage earlier in the week. As the Notre Dame women's basketball team chases a national championship, Diggins is blogging for ESPNW for the second year. Here's her most recent post, a video blog of the trip. What do you think of Skylar's swing? Is the Irish point guard a better golfer or hitter?
One down. Five to go. On Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion, the Notre Dame women's basketball team moved one step closer to its championship dream with a 74-43 victory over #16 seed Liberty in a first round NCAA tournament game. The crowd was a bit smaller than at some regular season games, but the lime green faithful made up for it in volume, as head coach Muffet McGraw's team rolled to its 31st win of the season. The Fighting Irish dominated the Lady Flames from the start, jumping out to a 20-8 lead at the first media timeout and forcing 17 turnovers in the first half. Sophomore guard Kayla McBride led the Irish offense with 15 points, while senior Natalie Novosel added 12 and fifth-year forward Devereaux Peters scored 10. The Purcell Pavilion crowd erupted when 5-foot-4 freshman Whitney Holloway's layup with nine seconds left made her the tenth Notre Dame player to score in the game. Liberty's +16.4 rebound margin ranks the Lady Flames first in the nation in that category, but Notre Dame controlled the game on the boards, 38-29, led by Skylar Diggins' nine rebounds. The Fighting Irish also dominated the game down low, scoring 44 points in the paint. Notre Dame got win #31 with relative ease, but will not be satisfied until victory #36. The Irish will meet eighth-seeded California in second round action on Tuesday evening at 7 pm ET, after the Golden Bears defeated Iowa in an exciting first game of the afternoon, 84-74. Catch the game on ESPN2 as Notre Dame looks to book its ticket to Raleigh and the Sweet 16. - Josh Flynt ('11)
With a 25-point halftime lead against #16 seed Liberty, perhaps Notre Dame can start looking ahead to a game with California on Tuesday. Led by Kayla McBride's 13 points, six Irish players have scored and head coach Muffet McGraw's team has jumped out to a 44-19 advantage at the break. Notre Dame is also controlling the game on the glass (19-14 Irish), against a Liberty squad that is ranked first in the nation in rebound differential. The "Nowhere Else But Notre Dame" video was absent. There was no special starting lineup introduction, chicken toss or section cheering signs, and the NCAA might call this a neutral site contest. But make no mistake about this afternoon's game. The Fighting Irish are playing in front of a great home crowd. The lime green faithful have made every Notre Dame bucket feels like a last-second game-winner. There are still 20 minutes left in this one, but barring a monumental collapse, Notre Dame looks well on its way to a second round game against the Golden Bears. - Josh Flynt ('11)
This afternoon is the start of a journey that hopefully ends with a Rocky Mountain celebration for the Notre Dame women's basketball team. The top-seeded Fighting Irish will take on #16 Liberty in a first round NCAA tournament matchup at Purcell Pavilion. That game should tip at approximately 2:40 pm ET on ESPN2, but it will depend on when the California - Iowa contest finishes. At the half, the Golden Bears lead the Hawkeyes, 42-33. Notre Dame is one of sixteen host sites for the first two rounds of the tournament, so head coach Muffet McGraw's team will feel right at home this afternoon, as they take on a Liberty team that ranks first in the nation in rebounding differential. This year marks the first time Notre Dame has been a #1 seed since the 2001 championship season and after coming up six points short in last year's title game against Texas A&M at the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, the goal is clear for the Fighting Irish - anything short of a national title will be a disappointment. An opportunity for a shot at a second championship banner is still five wins away, but in front of thousands of fans in their signature lime green, it couldn't possibly start in a better place for Notre Dame. NCAA tournament rules prohibit live play-by-play blogging, but we'll have more updates coming throughout the afternoon right here on UNDerground, and also on Twitter at @theUNDblogger. - Josh Flynt ('11)
On Monday night, the Notre Dame women's basketball team learned that it had earned the #1 seed in the Raleigh region of this year's NCAA tournament. Purcell Pavilion is a host site this year, meaning the Irish will not have to leave the friendly confines of their home arena until hopefully advancing to the Sweet Sixteen. For Sunday's first round contest, the Irish will take on #16 seed Liberty University. With a win, head coach Muffet McGraw's squad would advance to take on the winner of #8 seed California and #9 seed Iowa. The Golden Bears and the Hawkeyes will tipoff at 12:10 pm ET, before Notre Dame and Liberty take the floor at approximately 2:40 pm ET. Both games will air on ESPN2 with the broadcast team of Dave O'Brien and Doris Burke. As the Irish begin a run that hopefully ends with a national championship celebration in Denver, here's a look at their opponent for Sunday's matchup:
Before the Notre Dame women's basketball team begins its quest for a national championship, the Fighting Irish and their loyal fans gathered in Club Naimoli at the Purcell Pavilion on Monday evening for an NCAA tournament selection show party. While the men's bracket was unveiled yesterday on CBS, the women's field of 64 was announced on ESPN. Yesterday, Coach Brey's team awaited the location, seeding and opponent of its NCAA matchup. In the women's bracket, Notre Dame is a host site and the Fighting Irish's 30-3 record all but assured them a #1 seed. Coach McGraw's squad only had to await the announcement to see who it would play in its first round matchup on Sunday, and what the road might look like in the journey to the Final Four. As the team awaited the announcement, Fighting Irish Digital Media sat down with a few of the fans, many of whom described the special relationship they have developed with the Notre Dame women's basketball program over the years. Fans explained that, "it's like a family," saying they had formed friendships with the players and coaches over their years, or decades, cheering for the Irish. "The really special part about this team is that the girls so genuinely care about each other...It's not just on the basketball court," said another fan. From listening to the Irish fans, you really get the sense that those caring feelings are reciprocated. If you didn't know better, you might think the faithful in their lime green shirts were cheering on their own daughters, granddaughters, nieces or neighbors. Coach McGraw, spoke to the fans in attendance at the start of the program, expressing her gratitude for their support. "We wouldn't be here without you," she said. Everyone moved their attention to the Purcell Pavilion videoboard to see a 2011-12 highlight reel featuring Beyonce's "Love on Top," before gathering around the Club Naimoli TVs in preparation for the selection show broadcast. Two of the four 16-team brackets were announced, as the Irish anticipated their tournament draw. Then at 7:20 pm, ESPN revealed the third bracket, announcing Notre Dame as the #1 seed in the Raleigh region, where the BIG EAST regular season champions will play #16 seed Liberty, out of the Big South conference in the first round. This year marks the first time the Irish have earned a #1 seed since 2001, the year in which they won the national championship in St. Louis. Notre Dame's first round game is scheduled for Sunday, Mar. 18 at 2:30 pm ET in the Purcell Pavilion and it will be broadcast on ESPN2. Check back to UND.com for more coverage of the Irish as they begin the exciting time that is, March Madness. - Josh Flynt ('11)
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