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    Sept. 12, 1997

    Highlights of 1997-98 Women's Basketball Slate

    Irish to entertain visits by Connecticut and Purdue

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Four-time defending BIG EAST regular season and tournament championConnecticut and in-state rival Purdue highlight a 13-game home schedule for the University of Notre Dame's women's basketball team in 1997-98.

    The Irish, who advanced to the NCAA Final Four a year ago for the first time in school history, face five opponents -- Duke, UC Santa Barbara, Connecticut, Wisconsin and San Francisco -- who were in the 1997 64-team NCAA tournament field. Notre Dame will play three of those teams at home when the Irish entertain Connecticut on Saturday, December 6 at 2:00 p.m., Purdue on Wednesday, December 10 at 7:00 p.m. and San Francisco on Sunday, December 28 at 2:00 p.m.

    Notre Dame opens up the 1997-98 campaign at home against Midwestern Collegiate Conference foe Butler on Tuesday, November 18 at 7:00 p.m. The Irish then have four road games scheduled beginning with a game at Duke on Saturday, November 22 at 7:00 p.m. Notre Dame heads to the West Coast over the Thanksgiving weekend when it faces UC Santa Barbara on Friday, November 28 at 7:00 p.m. and Duke on Sunday, November 30 at noon.

    A visit to Rutgers in the first of two meetings between the two teams begins the BIG EAST slate for the Irish. Notre Dame will face the Scarlet Knights at Louis Brown Athletic Center, site of the 1998 BIG EAST Women's Basketball Championship, on Wednesday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m.

    Following the Connecticut game on December 6, the Irish play three games over the next week, starting with a visit to Wisconsin on Monday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m. Notre Dame entertains Purdue two days later followed by a first-ever meeting with South Florida on Saturday, December 13 at 2:00 p.m. in the final test before a 15-day hiatus for final exams .

    Notre Dame entertains San Francisco on Sunday, December 28 at 2:00 p.m. and then plays its final game in 1997 on Wednesday, December 31 on the road at Pittsburgh at 2:00 p.m.

    Notre Dame's BIG EAST road schedule includes contests at Miami on Tuesday, February 3 at 7:00 p.m. and at Connecticut on Saturday, February 21 at 2:00 p.m.

    The Irish will conclude the regular season at home against Rutgers on Tuesday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m.

    Notre Dame returns one starter, senior guard Mollie Peirick, and four letterwinners off of last year's Final Four team which won a school-record 31 games en route to a 31-7 season. Junior guard Sheila McMillen is the top returning scorer as she averaged 8.0 points per game a year ago. Peirick finished the season averaging 7.9 ppg. and 4.4 aspg.

    "Our games early on will help us figure out how good we are," Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw says. "We're hoping for one big road win that will enhance our NCAA tournament chances in March. We'll definitely get focusing on the BIG EAST, but we look at the preseason as a way to get some recognition early on."

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