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    Fighting Irish

    Dec. 2, 1997

    Notre Dame Awaits Tough Tests with Rutgers, Connecticut and Wisconsin

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame women's basketball team improved its record to 3-1 on the season following two victories over the weekend as the Irish completed a West coast sweep with wins over UC Santa Barbara and UCLA. Head coach Muffet McGraw's squad beat the Gauchos of UCSB 86-75 and then went to double overtime against UCLA to post a 93-91 decision over the Bruins for their first-ever win at Pauley Pavilion.

    The Week Ahead: Notre Dame will play three games in five days. The Irish open up the BIG EAST portion of their 1997-98 schedule at Rutgers on Wednesday, December 3 at 7:30 p.m. and then host second-ranked Connecticut on Saturday, December 6 at Noon. McGraw's team will then travel to Madison, Wisc. to face the 23rd-ranked Wisconsin Badgers on Monday, December 8 at 7:00 p.m.

    In the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll, The Scarlet Knights and Huskies were picked to win their respective divisional titles in BIG EAST 7 and BIG EAST 6.

    The Connecticut game is part of the BIG EAST Women's Basketball Television package and will be shown live on Sportschannel and Empire affiliates across the country.

    Probable Irish Starting Lineup: 
                                        1997-98
                                        PPG.    RPG.
     3  Mollie Peirick   5-11   Sr. G   11.8    5.5
    50  Kelley Siemon    6-2    Fr. F   11.5    4.2
    32  Julie Henderson  6-3    So. C    6.5    3.2
    12  Danielle Green   5-8    Jr. G   13.2    5.2
    20  Sheila McMillen  5-10   Jr. G   19.0    2.2

    The Week in Review

    The Irish earned two victories on the West coast to improve its record to 3-1 on the season.

    UC SANTA BARBARA - Sheila McMillen (Rochester, Ind.) scored a game-high 23 points to lead four Irish players in double figures as Notre Dame posted an 86-75 win at UC Santa Barbara.

    Joining McMillen in double figures was junior guard Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.) who scored a career-high 19 points as she shot 60 percent from the field (6-10). Mollie Peirick (Eureka, Mo.) added 14 points (all in the second half) and hauled in a game-high seven rebounds, while Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) chipped in a personal best 10 points as she registered double figures for the first time in her career.

    Notre Dame shot 46.8 percent from the field and outrebounded the Gauchos 41-34 in the contest. The Irish who had struggled from the free throw line in its two previous outings, were 18 of 22 from the line (74.2 percent). McMillen led te Irish from the line connected on 11 of 13.

    After a tight first half in which no team led by more than five points, the Irish held a 32-29 advantage at halftime. Notre Dame outscored UC Santa Barbara 21-13 in the first seven minutes of the second half to build an 11-point lead which it never relinquished.

    UCLA - Sheila McMillen scored a career-high 29 points hitting nine-of-13 from the field and six-of-seven from three-point range to lead the Irish to a 93-91 double overtime thriller over UCLA for its first-ever victory in six games at fabled Pauley Pavilion. Her six three-pointers tied a Notre Dame single-game record.

    Playing its third consective road game, the double overtime contest was just the third ever for a Notre Dame women's basketball team in the 20-plus history of the program and first overtime game for the Irish since the 1995-96 campaign.

    Freshman Kelley Siemon (Edina, Minn.) finished with a career-high 20 points as she was four-of-seven from the field and 12-12 from the free throw line to tie an Irish mark for best free throw percentage in a game.

    Danielle Green recorded her second straight 19-point career-high outing as she finished eight-of-14 from the field. She also led the Irish with nine rebounds in the contest.

    Mollie Peirick scored all 10 of her points in the second half and recorded her first double-double of the season as she finished with a season-high 11 assists.

    Notre Dame, which was hitting just 60.9 percent from the line heading into the contest, was 23 of 26 from the charity stripe in the game, connecting on 16-of-18 from the line in the second half. After hitting just 37.5 percent of its their shots from the field in the first half, the Irish missed only eight shots (21-33) in the second and two overtime sessions.

    There were 19 ties and 19 lead changes in the game as no team gained more than a five-point advantage in the second half.

    UCLA jumped out to an early 12-point lead in the first half and led 21-9 with 9:30 left in the contest. The Irish then went on a 17-3 run over the next seven minutes and took the lead for the first time in the game on Green's layup with 3:04 left before halftime.

    Tied 28-28 at intermission, Notre Dame led by as many as five points in the second half, but the Bruins came back to tie the contest and the lead changed hands nine times in the final 14:10 of regulation.

    Head Coach Muffet McGraw: Muffet McGraw is in her 11th season along the Notre Dame sidelines and her 16th as a collegiate coach. Her career coaching ledger stands at 304-137 (.689) and she owns a 216-96 (.692) as head coach of the Irish. McGraw reached two milestones last season, earning her 200th win at Notre Dame with its 72-71 decision over Miami on January 29, 1997 and the 300th of her collegiate career with the 87-81 win over Alabama in its NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinal contest on March 22, 1997. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, she spent five seasons at Lehigh where she compiled a 138-69 (.667) record. Under McGraw, the Irish have posted eight 20-win seasons, including four straight (1993-94, 1994-95, 1995-96 and 1997-98). As a member of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference, her teams won five regular season championships and five tournament crowns. She also guided the Irish to their only three NCAA tournament appearances in school history in 1996, 1994 and 1992. During her tenure, McGraw's Irish teams have averaged 21.3 victories each season. Following the conclusion of the 1995-96 campaign, McGraw was named District II Coach of the Year by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA).

    Series Record vs. Upcoming Opponents: Rutgers - This will be the eighth meeting between the two schools with the Scarlet Knights owning a 4-3 advantage in the series. Notre Dame has won two straight over Rutgers and three of the last four. The Irish are 3-1 against the Scarlet Knights since the two teams joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96. Notre Dame's loss during the past two seasons was in Piscataway, N.J. as the Irish dropped a 73-62 decision on February 3, 1996. The Irish are 0-2 versus Rutgers in Piscataway. Connecticut - The Huskies have won all five meetings between the two teams. Prior to joining the BIG EAST, the two schools had never faced each other in women's basketball. Connecticut has only played at the Joyce Center once and came away with an 87-64 victory at the Joyce Center on January 18, 1996 in the first-ever contest played between the two schools. All five other meetings have been played at Gampel Pavilion, including two straight in the BIG EAST Tournament championship game. Wisconsin - Notre Dame leads the series 2-1. The Irish won the first two meetings between the two schools, but last year the Badgers earned an 81-69 victory at the Joyce Center. This will be Notre Dame's second-ever appearance in Madison, Wisc.; they won the first-ever meeting between the two schools 80-70 on March 1, 1987.

    Irish on the Road Early: Notre Dame's game at Rutgers on Wednesday night is the final of four straight road games. The Irish opened up the 1997-98 campaign playing four of its first five games on the road. Notre Dame is on the road just once in its next four outings following the Rutgers contest. The Irish will play at Wisconsin on Monday, December 8.

    Irish on the Web: The official Notre Dame athletic department web site is available at www.und.com.

    Notre Dame Sportscentral: The 1997-98 athletic season marks the debut of Notre Dame Sportscentral, a weekly television show produced by LeSea Broadcasting that will keep Irish fans updated on the progress of all Notre Dame intercollegiate athletic teams. Locally, the one-hour segment is shown on WHME-TV each Saturday at 2:00 p.m.

    The Muffet McGraw Show: The 1997-98 basketball season marks the inaugural season of The Muffet McGraw Show. The show will air in the South Bend area at 11:00 a.m. every Saturday on WHME-TV 46 and on WHT Satellite (Galaxy 4, Transponder 15). Fox Sports Chicago is also scheduled to air the show at a day and time to be determined.

    Throughout the women's basketball season, WHME sports director Bob Nagle and Irish women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw will take a look at highlights from the previous week's competition and preview upcoming games. Features also include individual player profiles, special in-studio guests and a look behind the scenes at Irish women's basketball.

    Irish in the Joyce Center: Notre Dame has a 173-63 (.733) mark at the Joyce Center in 20-plus seasons following the season-opening victory against Butler. During the past two seasons, the Irish had back-to-back 11-1 marks at home. Last season, the only loss was to Wisconsin (81-69). Notre Dame has won 10-plus games at home seven times since 1977-78.

    McMillen Lights It Up: Junior guard Sheila McMillen was a key in Notre Dame's two victories on the West coast as she averaged 26 ppg. against UC Santa Barbara and UCLA. McMillen scored 23 points in the win over the Gauchos, netting five field goals and hitting on 11-of-13 from the charity stripe. Against UCLA, she scored a career-high 29 points connecting on 69.2 percent from the field (9-13) and hitting six-of-seven from three-point range. McMillen's six three-pointers tied an Irish school record. She missed her first three-point attempt, but then went on to hit her final six attempts from long range.

    McMillen Leads the Irish: Sheila McMillen has been Notre Dame's leading scorer in three of its first four contests and has been in double figures in three games. She is averaging 19.0 ppg. and 2.5 rpg. Her back-to-back 20-point outings over the weekend marked the third and fourth time in her career that she scored 20-plus points in a game.

    Irish Get First Win at Pauley: Notre Dame's 93-91 double overtime victory at Pauley Pavilion was the first in six games for the Irish in the fabled building. Notre Dame had lost its previous five outings to the Bruins, the most recent in the first round of the 1992 NCAA tournament.

    Peirick Gets First Double-Double: Senior guard Mollie Peirick has been the only Irish player to score in double figures in all four games this season. She had her first double-double of the season when she scored 10 points and dished off 11 assists, one shy of her career best. Peirick is averaging 11.8 ppg. (third on the team) and leads the team in the rebounding (5.5 rpg.) and assists (6.8 aspg.) columns.

    Green Provides a Spark: Junior guard Danielle Green has been a spark in the Irish lineup. She missed all of last season with a torn achilles tendon which she suffered on the first day of practice (Oct. 15). Green is second in the Irish scoring and rebounding columns averaging 13.2 ppg. and 5.2 rpg. She posted back-to-back 19-point outings against UC Santa Barbara and UCLA.

    Siemon Gets Her Name in Record Books: Freshman Kelley Siemon put her name into the Irish record books when she connected on all 12 of her free throw attempts in the UCLA game. Siemon tied the Irish mark for best free throw percentage in a game. Prior to the UCLA game, Siemon had struggled from the line hitting just 10 of 19 attempts for 52.6 percent. She has started all four contests and has been in double figures in three of four contests and is averaging 11.5 ppg. and 4.2 rpg. Siemon's 20-point performance against UCLA was a career best and with her perfect 12-for-12 outing from the line boosted her free throw percentage up to 71.0 percent.

    Getting Their Starts: Notre Dame's starting lineup has been the same through the first four contests. In the season opener against Butler in the season opener featured three players who were making the first starts of their careers -- junior Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.), sophomore Julie Henderson and freshman Kelley Siemon. They earned starts along with Mollie Peirick and Sheila McMillen.

    Working Overtime: Notre Dame's double overtime victory over UCLA was the first for the Irish since January 9, 1992 when Notre Dame beat Dayton 76-70 at the Joyce Center. Coach Muffet McGraw's squad had not played an overtime game since an 88-79 win at Seton Hall on January 2, 1996.

    Hills, Haney Sign With Irish: Irish head coach Muffet McGraw has signed two players to national letters of intent during the early signing period. Sherisha Hills, a 5-8 guard from Tampa, Fla., and Ericka Haney, a 6-1 forward from Toledo, Ohio, comprise Notre Dame's Class of 2002.

    Hills, rated the third best player in the state of Florida, is 34th on Blue Star Basketball's list of top 60 seniors in 1997-98. A two-time Class 3A first-team all-state honoree, she was named to the 1997 AAU All-America team after leading her squad to a seventh-place finish at the national tournament.

    A three-year starter at Academy of the Holy Names, she has scored 1,853 points during her career, averaging 19.5 ppg. as a junior and 22.0 ppg. as a sophomore.

    Haney, rated the 49th best senior by Blue Star Basketball, led her Toledo Catholic Central squad in scoring (16.0 ppg.), rebounding (12.0 rpg.) and blocked shots (3.0 blks.) last season. She earned first-team all-state, all-city and all-district honors as a junior.

    An AAU All-American, she is a track standout and High School All-American in the 100-meter hurdles.

    Irish On BIG EAST TV: Notre Dame will appear twice on the eight-game BIG EAST television package during the 1997-98 season. Irish contests against Connecticut on December 6 at the Joyce Center and versus Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. on January 17 will be televised. Tipoff for Notre Dame's contest is at noon, while the Boston College game is slated for a 6:00 p.m. start.

    Irish Picked Second in BIG EAST 6: Notre Dame has been chosen to finish second in the BIG EAST 6 in the Coaches' Preseason Poll. The Irish have been selected second behind Connecticut. Rutgers has been chosen to win the BIG EAST 7 division.

    BIG EAST 7          BIG EAST 6
    1.  Rutgers         1.  Connecticut
    2.  Georgetown      2.  NOTRE DAME
    3.  Miami           3.  Boston College
    4.  Providence      4.  West Virginia
    5.  Seton Hall      5.  Villanova
    6.  Syracuse        6.  St. John's
    7.  Pittsburgh

    Irish Find a Cure for Free Throw Woes: Notre Dame was 23-26 from the line in the win over UCLA. In its first three outings the Irish, as a team, had struggled from the line hitting just 53-of-82 (60.9 percent). Under McGraw, Notre Dame as a team, has shot better than 70-percent from the charity stripe in eight of the last nine seasons. Sheila McMillen leads the team from the line as she has connected on 87.5 percent of her free throws (21-24).

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