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    Fighting Irish

    Dec. 18, 1997

    Notre Dame Heads into 15-Day Break with 5-4 Record

    Irish to Face San Francisco on December 28

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The Notre Dame women's basketball team went 2-1 in action last week as the Irish dropped an 89-77 decision at 17th-ranked Wisconsin and then picked up two home wins against Purdue (77-71) and South Florida (73-50).

    With the two victories in the three non-league games, the Irish improved to 5-4 on the season. Notre Dame has an 0-2 BIG EAST mark.

    The Week Ahead: Notre Dame will be off for 15 days and will not play again until December 28 when the Irish host San Francisco on Sunday, December 28 at 2:00 p.m. in their final non-league contest of the year. Coach Muffet McGraw's squad will close out '97 with a league game on Wednesday, December 31 when the Irish travel to Pittsburgh for a noon tipoff.

    Probable Irish Starting Lineup:
                                      1997-98
                                     PPG.   RPG.
     3  Mollie Peirick  5-11 Sr.  G  12.0   4.7
    50  Kelley Siemon   6-2  Fr.  F   8.6   3.4
    00  Ruth Riley      6-5  Fr.  C   5.0   4.8
    12  Danielle Green  5-8  Jr.  G  12.6   6.2
    20  Sheila McMillen 5-10 Jr.  G  14.9   2.9

    The Week in Review: Notre Dame was 2-1 in three non-league tests last week as the Irish upped their overall record this season to 5-4.

    WISCONSIN - Notre Dame dropped its third straight contest as the Irish lost an 89-77 decision at 17th-ranked Wisconsin.

    Sheila McMillen (Rochester, Ind.) and Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) led the Irish with16 points each, while Danielle Green (Chicago, Ill.) added 14 points.

    Ivey's 16 points marked a career-high. She also had a game-high seven rebounds in the contest.

    Wisconsin had five players in double figures as the Badgers were led by LaTonya Sims' 20 points. The Badgers led by 16 at halftime, but the Irish came back following the intermission with an 18-4 run to start the second half and pulled to within two with 14:20 left in the contest.

    Wisconsin then went on a run of its own as the Badger lead increased to 17 with just over six minutes to play in the game.

    Wisconsin went to the free throw line 39 times in the game (converting on 30 of those attempts). Notre Dame was whistled for 32 fouls in the game, compared to just 19 for the Badgers.

    The Irish shot 46.8 percent from the field, 33.3 percent from three-point range and just 65.0 percent from the line. Notre Dame also had 28 turnovers in the game.

    PURDUE - Notre Dame sank 10 straight free throws in the final 3:13 of the contest as the Irish rallied in the second half for its first-ever win over Purdue at the Joyce Center 77-71. The win ended a three-game losing streak for the Irish, its longest since the 1994-95 campaign and gave Notre Dame a split against Big Ten foes this season.

    Notre Dame, which was 0-3 against the Boilermakers previously at the Joyce Center was led by Niele Ivey's 16 points, which tied her career-high, and Ruth Riley's personal best 13 points, as the Irish erased a five-point deficit with 7:32 left to play in the contest.

    The Irish had two other players in double figures as Sheila McMillen and Kelley Siemon each chipped in 12 and 11 points, respectively. Despite hitting just 35.7 percent from the field (20-56), the Irish went to the charity stripe 40 times and converted on 32 of their attempts (80.0 percent).

    SOUTH FLORIDA - Danielle Green and Mollie Peirick (Eureka, Mo.) combined for 35 points to lead Notre Dame to its second straight win as the Irish posted a 73-50 win over visiting South Florida in the first-ever meeting between the two schools. The 23-point margin of victory also was the largest of the season.

    Green led the Irish in both scoring and rebounding as she tossed in 18 points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds. Peirick tied her season-high as she added 17 points. They were the only two players in double figures for Notre Dame which won its second straight game and improved to 5-4 on the season.

    All 11 Irish players who played in the game scored. Junior guard Sheila McMillen missed the contest with a hip flexor suffered prior to the Purdue game on December 12.

    Freshman Ruth Riley (Roann, Ind.) made her third straight start and had another outstanding game as she scored five points, grabbed a career-best 10 rebounds and made a personal best seven blocks, one shy of the school record.

    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 306-140 (.686) and she owns a 218-99 (.688) 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: San Francisco- This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools. Pittsburgh- Notre Dame leads the series 3-0 and is 1-0 at Fitzgerald Field House. The Irish last played at Pittsburgh was on February 18, 1997 and defeated the Panthers 65-49.

    Niele Ivey
    Niele Ivey

    Ivey Earns BIG EAST Player of the Week Honors: Sophomore guard Niele Ivey was named the BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week after averaging 13. 7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.3 steals in leading Notre Dame to a 2-1 week. Ivey earns Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career, and is the first Irish player to be honored by the Conference this season

    In three games, Ivey shot 48 percent from the field (13-27), including 66.7 percent from three-point range (eight-of-12). In an 88-79 loss at 17th-ranked Wisconsin, Ivey finished with a career-high 16 points and seven rebounds. She recorded double figures for the third straight game in Notre Dame's 77-71 victory over Purdue and had her second straight 16-point outing on five-of-nine shooting from the field which included four three-pointers.

    Ivey closed out the week with nine points, six rebounds and eight assists and seven steals. in the 73-50 win over South Florida in making her first-ever career start. She is the team's fifth-leading scorer averaging 7.9 ppg. and 2.9 rpg. Ivey leads the team with 25 steals (2.78 per game) and is second in assists (3.0 per game).

    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.

    Three Straight Losses a Rarity: The three straight losses for the Irish against Rutgers, Connecticut and Wisconsin marked the first time Notre Dame had dropped three consecutive games since the 1994-95 season. Its back-to-back BIG EAST losses against the Scarlet Knights and Huskies marked the first time since joining the league in 1995-96 that the Irish had dropped consecutive league outings.

    Irish Have Been on the Road Early: Notre Dame opened up the season by playing five of its first seven games on the road. The Irish have been at home for back-to-back contests versus Purdue and South Florida and will play one more home game in the month of December when the Irish entertain San Francisco on Sunday, December 28. Notre Dame closes out the month of December with a road game at Pittsburgh on the 31st..

    Sheila McMillen
    Sheila McMillen

    McMillen Misses First Career Game: Junior guard Sheila McMillen was sidelined for the South Florida game with a hip flexor suffered prior to the Purdue game. It marked the first time the Irish co-captain had missed a game spanning 77 games in her career.

    McMillen Leads the Irish: Sheila McMillen has been Notre Dame's leading scorer in four games, and has been and has been in double figures in six of the eight contests she has played. McMillen is averaging 14.9 ppg. Her back-to-back 20-point outings against UC Santa Barbara and UCLA marked the third and fourth times in her career that she scored 20-points in a game.

    Peirick Gets First Double-Double: Senior guard Mollie Peirick scored in double figures in the first six games of the '97-98 campaign. 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 in Notre Dame's double overtime victory against UCLA. Peirick is averaging 12.0 ppg. (third on the team), while leading the team in assists with 46 (5.1 aspg.). She also is second in the rebounding column with 4.7 rpg.

    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), but has come back to start all nine games this season. Green recorded the first double-double of her career against South Florida when she scored 18 points and grabbed a career-high 12 rebounds in Notre Dame's 73-50 victory. She is second in the Irish scoring column with a 12.6 ppg. average and leads the team with 6.2 rpg. Green has been in double figures in five games and posted back-to-back 19-point outings against UC Santa Barbara and UCLA.

    Ivey Energizes Irish: Sophomore guard Niele Ivey has been in double figures in three of the past four games and is averaging 13.0 points., 4.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.8 steals in the last four games versus Connecticut, Wisconsin, Purdue and South Florida. She had back-to-back career-high 16-point outings against Wisconsin and Purdue shooting 61.1 percent from the field (11-18) and 63.6 percent (7-11) from three-point range in those two games.

    Hutchinson, Riley and Ivey Make First Career Starts: Senior guard Kari Hutchinson, sophomore guard Niele Ivey and freshman center Ruth Riley earned their first career starts in the past three games. Hutchinson and Riley were in the starting lineup for the first time against Wisconsin, while Ivey earned her first career start against South Florida, replacing Sheila McMillen in the backcourt. Since the Wisconsin game, Riley has earned starts in the Purdue and South Florida contests.

    Getting Their Starts: Prior to the Wisconsin game, Notre Dame's starting lineup has been the same through its first six contests. In the season opener against Butler, the starting lineup featured three players who were making the first starts of their careers -- junior Danielle Green, sophomore Julie Henderson and freshman Kelley Siemon.

    Riley Rejections: Freshman Ruth Riley had a career-high seven blocks in the South Florida game, one shy of the school record. Riley leads the team this season with 16 blocks (1.78 per game).

    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.

    Notre Dame Versus Ranked Opponents: Wisconsin was the third ranked opponent the Irish have faced this season. Notre Dame is 0-3 against ranked foes with losses to Duke, Connecticut and the Badgers.

    Big Ten Bonanza: Notre Dame posted a 1-1 mark versus Big Ten foes this season as the Irish had back-to-back games against Wisconsin and Purdue. Last year, Notre Dame as 1-3 against the league, losing to Wisconsin, Purdue and Ohio State, while posting its lone win against Indiana.

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