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    Fighting Irish

    Jan. 4, 1998

    Notre Dame Continues BIG EAST Play

    Notre Dame, Ind. -- The Notre Dame women's basketball team improved its record to 7-4, 1-2 in the BIG EAST as the Irish won two games last week with victories over San Francisco, (62-47) and Pittsburgh (66-46). Notre Dame's win against the Panthers marked the first league victory for the Irish this season.

    Coach Muffet McGraw's squad heads into its three BIG EAST contests this week riding a four-game win streak, its longest of the season.

    The Week Ahead: Three league contests in the next five days await the Irish this week. Notre Dame plays two road games as Notre Dame travels to Georgetown on Tuesday, January 6 at 7:00 p.m. and to St. John's on Saturday, January 10 for a 2:00 p.m. contest against the Red Storm. In between both of those games, Notre Dame entertains Miami on Thursday, January 8 at 7:00 p.m.

    Probable Irish Starting Lineup:

    
                                              1997-98
                                           PPG.   RPG.
     3   Mollie Peirick   5-11   Sr.   G   12.4   5.0
    50   Kelley Siemon    6-2    Fr.   F    8.1   3.6
    00   Ruth Riley       6-5    Fr.   C    5.2   4.9
    12   Danielle Green   5-8    Jr.   G   11.6   6.5
    20   Sheila McMillen  5-10   Jr.   G   14.3   2.9
    

    The Week in Review:
    Notre Dame was 2-0 as the Irish played one non-conference and one conference game to extend their current win streak to four games.

    SAN FRANCISCO - Mollie Peirick (Eureka, Mo.) scored a game-high 17 points an grabbed a game-high nine rebounds (tying her season-high) to help the Irish to their third straight victory over San Francisco in the first-ever between between the two schools. The contest against the Lady Dons was the final non-conference game for the Irish this season.

    Also in in double figures for Notre Dame was freshman Ruth Riley (Roann, Ind.) who finished with 11 points and seven rebounds.

    Notre Dame, which trailed by six early in the first half, but held a six-point advantage, 29-23, at the half, used a 16-2 spurt in the first eight minutes of the second half to build an 18-point lead, 45-27, with 12:34 left to play in the contest.

    Both teams struggled from the free throw line as Notre Dame hit just 50 percent (4-8), while San Francisco connected on just 10-19 for 52.6 percent accuracy from the charity stripe.

    Notre Dame owned a decisive rebounding advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Lady Dons 48-31. Freshman Meaghen Leahy (Wilbraham, Mass.) also had nine rebounds in the contest, which marked a personal best for her.

    PITTSBURGH - Notre Dame notched its fourth consecutive victory and first BIG EAST win of the season with a 66-46 at Pittsburgh. Sheila McMillen (Rochester, Ind.) led the Irish with 17 points, while Mollie Peirick added 11 as they were the only two players in double figures for Notre Dame.

    Notre Dame held the Panthers to 29.4 percent accuracy from the field for the game as Pittsburgh converted just five-of-24 field goals in the first half (20.8 percent). The Irish also forced 22 Pittsburgh turnovers.

    Notre Dame shot 37.9 percent for the game from the field after hitting just nine-of 30 (30.0 percent) from the field in the first half.

    The Irish took an early lead in the game and only trailed once in the contest at the start.

    Notre Dame led 21-17 at the half, but used a 14-2 spurt in the first five minutes following the intermission and led by as many as 27 in the contest.

    Alecia Balich was the only Panther player in double figures as she finished with 11 points.

    Notre Dame was led in the rebounding column by Danielle Green's (Chicago, Ill.) seven boards as the Irish held a 45-36 advantage on the boards.

    mcgraw photo
    Muffet McGraw

    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 308-140 (.688) and she owns a 220-99 (.690) 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: Georgetown - Notre Dame leads the series 8-1 and has won six straight over the Hoyas. The Irish are 4-0 against Georgetown since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96. Notre Dame is 3-0 at McDonough Arena. The last time the Irish faced the Hoyas in Washington, DC, they posted an 81-63 victory on February 20, 1996. The lone victory for Georgetown in the series was on December 8, 1988 in the first round of the Investors Women's Classic in Richmond, Va. as the Hoyas beat Notre Dame 70-60. Miami - Notre Dame leads the series 5-1, which has included four straight over the Hurricanes. The Irish are 3-0 against Miami since joining the BIG EAST and are 1-1 against the Hurricanes at the Joyce Center. Miami's lone victory over the Irish was at Notre Dame , 62-61, on February 2, 1987. St. John's - Notre Dame is 3-0 versus the Red Storm and is 2-0 against St. John's on the road at Alumni Hall.

    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.

    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: The Irish opened the season by playing five of their first seven games on the road. It's game at Georgetown on January 6 will be the seventh road test for Notre Dame this season.

    pierick photo
    Mollie Peirick

    Peirick Gets 500th Career Assist: Senior guard Mollie Peirick dished off her 500th career assist against San Francisco on December 28. She ranks fourth on the all-time Notre Dame assist list with 506.

    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 returned for the San Francisco contest and came off the bench to play 20 minutes and was back in the starting lineup against Pittsburgh.

    mcmillen photo
    Sheila McMillen

    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 seven of the 10 games she has played. McMillen is averaging 14.3 ppg. and 2.9 rpg. 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 12.4 ppg. (second on the team), while leading the team in assists with 54 (4.9 aspg.). She also is second in the rebounding column with 5.1 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 is third in the Irish scoring column (11.6 ppg.) and leads the team in rebounding with a 6.5 average. She posted back-to-back 19-point outings against UC-Santa Barbara and UCLA and had 17 points versus Rutgers. Green recorded her first career double-double against South Florida when she scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in Notre Dame's 73-50 victory. She has been in double figures in five games this season.

    ivey photo
    Niele Ivey

    Ivey Energizes Irish: Sophomore guard Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) has been in double figures in three of the past six games and is averaging 10.5 points., 3.8 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 4.0 steals in those contests. 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. Ivey earned BIG EAST Player of the Week honors for the week of December 15.

    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 22 blocks (2.0 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.

    Helping Put the BIG in the BIG EAST: In just its third season as a member of the BIG EAST, Notre Dame has proven to be one of the most dominant teams in the league. The Irish have a 33-6 (84.6 percent) record in regular season games and 4-2 (66.7 percent) mark in BIG EAST tournament action for an overall record of 37-8 (82.2 percent) against league opponents. Of Notre Dame's eight losses, six have come against Connecticut, and on all five occassions, the Huskies were ranked in the top three nationally. The Irish have lost only to one other BIG EAST team Rutgers (twice).

    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.

    Tough Defense: Notre Dame has had strong defensive outings in its last three contests as the Irish have held all three opponents to under 51 points. The Irish yielded 50 points in their 23-point win over South Florida and gave up a season-low 46 against Pittsburgh after holding San Francisco to 47 points in the previous outing.

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