Feb. 23, 1998
Notre Dame Concludes Regular-Season
Irish at Home against Rutgers
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame was 1-1 in action last week as the Irish concluded a three-game homestand with a victory over Georgetown 80-54 for its 10th straight home win at the Joyce Center. Coach Muffet McGraw's team had its three-game win streak snapped as the Irish suffered a 73-61 setback at second-ranked Connecticut.
With one game remaining in the regular season, Notre Dame has a 17-8 record overall and 11-6 mark in the BIG EAST.
The Week Ahead: Notre Dame concludes the regular season at home against Rutgers on Tuesday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. The contest will mark the final home appearance for seniors Mollie Peirick (Eureka, Mo.) and Kari Hutchinson (Nine Mile Falls, Wash.).
Probable Irish Starting Lineup: 1997-98 PPG. RPG. 3 Mollie Peirick 5-11 Sr. G 12.0 5.1 50 Kelley Siemon 6-2 Fr. F 8.4 4.8 00 Ruth Riley 6-5 Fr. C 10.2 7.1 20 Sheila McMillen 5-10 Jr. G 13.5 3.0 42 Kari Hutchinson 6-0 Sr. G 3.6 2.9
The Week in Review:
GEORGETOWN - Sheila McMillen (Rochester, Ind.) scored a game-high 21 points, hitting her first six shots from the field as Notre Dame won its 10th straight game with a convincing 80-54 victory over Georgetown.
Ruth Riley (Roann, Ind.) posted her third double-double as she registered 11 points and 11 rebounds marking the eighth time this season as she posted double figures in both scoring and rebounding.
Notre Dame jumped out to an early lead and was never threatened in the contest. Georgetown scored the first basket, but then the Irish took advantage of a Hoya scoring drought and led by as many as 27 in the first half. Georgetown went more than 11 minutes without a basket and scored just three free throws in that time.
The game was slowed by 53 total fouls in the contest. Notre Dame was sent to the free throw line 43 times and made 28 of those opportunities, while the Hoyas attempted 32 free throws and made 24.
Georgetown, which shot just 22.7 percent for the game, was 0-17 from three-point range. Notre Dame owned the advantage on the boards, 49-40, but committed 24 turnovers in the game.
CONNECTICUT - Notre Dame lost to Connecticut for the seventh time in as many meetings and for the fifth time in Gampel Pavilion as the Irish dropped a 73-61 decision in Storrs, Conn.
Niele Ivey (St. Louis, Mo.) scored a career-high 20 points as she hit seven of a personal best 23 attempts to lead three Irish players in double figures. Sheila McMillen finished with 12 points, while Mollie Peirick (St. Louis, Mo.) added 10 points.
Notre Dame shot a season-low 30.8 percent from the field hitting just 20-of-65 shot attempts. The Huskies also struggled from the floor as they connected on only 33.9 percent accuracy (20-59).
Connecticut was led by Nykesha Sales who had a game-high 27 points. She led four Husky players in double figures. Freshman Svetlana Abromsimova had 11 points and led all rebounders with 15 boards.
The Huskies led by nine (20-11) with 8:27 left to play in the first half, but then a 17-6 run over the next four minutes enabled the Irish to take a 31-26 lead with 3:59 to play in the first half following an Ivey three-pointer.
Connecticut, however, closed out the first half with a 10-1 spurt and had a 36-32 halftime advantage.
Notre Dame never led in the second half, but tied the game (40-40) on an Ivey layup with 17:50 remaining in the contest. Connecticut's lead reached double digits (10 points) with 12:21 left to play in the game. Notre Dame got as close as six points (62-56) with 5:08 remaining on a three-point play by Ivey, but that was as close as Notre Dame got before Connecticut opened up another double-digit lead.
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 318-144 (.688) and she owns a 230-103 (.691) 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 - The series between the two teams is tied at 4-4 and Notre Dame holds a 2-1 advantage over the Scarlet Knights at the Joyce Center. Since the Irish joined the league in 1995-96, they have beaten Rutgers both times the Scarlet Knights have played at Notre Dame. This will be the second meeting of the season between the two teams. Earlier this season, Rutgers handed Notre Dame an 80-67 setback in the first BIG EAST league game for both teams.
BIG EAST Roll: Notre Dame has won 11 of its last 15 BIG EAST outings after dropping its first two league games against Rutgers and Connecticut. The back-to-back BIG EAST losses marked the first time since joining the league that the Irish had dropped consecutive league outings. Notre Dame had won five straight before losing to Boston College on January 17. The Irish are 11-6 in league play with one BIG EAST outing remaining in the regular season.
Late Season Favors Irish: The final regular-season scheduling has favored the Irish. Following Tuesday night's finale against Rutgers, Notre Dame will have concluded the regular season by playing four of those five contests at home.
BIG EAST Road Woes: Five of Notre Dame's six BIG EAST losses this season have come on the road. The Irish have lost four of their last five league games on the road and lost its last three on the road to Villanova (70-54), Miami 77-76 and Connecticut 73-61.
Irish in the Joyce Center: Notre Dame has a 183-64 (.741) mark at the Joyce Center in 21 seasons. For the third straight year, the Irish have won 11 home games which ties a school record set during five other campaigns. During the 1996-97 and 1997-98 campaigns, Notre Dame had back-to-back 11-1 marks at home. Last season, its only loss at home was to Wisconsin (81-69) and the only blemish on this year's home record is a 78-59 setback to Connecticut. The Irish are 11-1 this season at home, and with one game remaining against Rutgers, could set the record for most wins at home in a single season.
Riley Has Eight Double-Doubles: Ruth Riley, who became the first player in Notre Dame women's basketball history to register five consecutive double-doubles, recorded her eighth of the season against Georgetown last week when she scored 11 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. It was her third consecutive double-double after she registered 10 points and 12 rebounds versus Pittsburgh and 13 points and 10 rebounds against St. John's. Her double-double against the Red Storm on February 12 was her first since posting career-highs of 29 points and 13 rebounds against Syracuse on January 21. Currently, Riley is the team's fourth-leading scorer and top rebounder averaging 10.2 points and 7.1 rebounds. She has scored in double figures in 13 games this season and has grabbed 10-plus boards nine times. Riley also has been honored as the BIG EAST Rookie of the Week three times this season.
Peirick Second on All-Time Assist List: Mollie Peirick has moved into second-place on the all-time career assist list with 599. Mary Gavin is Notre Dame's career assist leader with 778. Peirick had 10 assists against St. John's on February 12 which marked the second time this season she had 10 or more assists in a game. Over the last eight games, she has dished off 51 assists and is averaging 6.4. In four of the last eight games, Peirick has had nine or more assists.
Peirick Approaches 1,000-Point Plateau: Mollie Peirick has 988 career points and needs just 12 to become the 13th player in Notre Dame women's basketball history to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
McMillen Back in Groove: Sheila McMillen, who was held scoreless for the second time in her career (89 games) against Miami, has scored in double figures in 18 games this season and leads the Irish in scoring with 13.5 ppg. The only other time McMillen was held without a point in a game was against Pittsburgh on January 14, 1996. Her 21-point outing against Georgetown marked the fourth 20-plus performance of the season.
Ivey Nets Career Best Against Huskies: Sophomore guard Niele Ivey returned to the starting lineup against Georgetown and Connecticut after missing the Pittsburgh game with a hip pointer sustained against St. John's on February 12. Ivey has stared the last 10 games she has played and 12 overall this season. She had her first 20-point performance of her career when she scored 20 points against Connecticut on Saturday. Ivey is averaging 8.0 points and leads the team with 57 steals (2.4 per game). She has been in double figures in eight games this season. Ivey was honored as the BIG EAST Player of the Week in mid-December.
Green Provides a Spark: Junior guard Danielle Green has been a spark in the Irish lineup this season. She missed all of last season with a torn achilles tendon which she suffered on the first day of practice (Oct. 15), but started the first 14 games of 1997-98 campaign. Green missed the West Virginia game and Seton Hall, but has come off the bench in the last seven games she has played. She is the team's third-leading scorer (10.8 ppg.) and second-leading rebounder (5.4 rpg.). Green netted a career-high 22 points in Notre Dame's win over Providence on January 24, which marked the first time time in her career that she scored 20-plus points in a game. She recorded her first career double-double against South Florida when she scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. Green has been in double figures in 10 games this season.
Siemon in Double Figures: Freshman Kelley Siemon's (Edina, Minn.) 14-point outing against Miami on February 3 marked the ninth time this season she has been in double figures. In the game, she was seven-of-eight from the field and also grabbed five rebounds. Siemon recorded her first career double-double versus Georgetown when she netted 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. She had a career-high 20 points in Notre Dame's double overtime win at UCLA in late November.
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 and is second in the BIG EAST with 56 blocks (2.2 per game).
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 43-10 (81.1 percent) record in regular season games and 4-2 (66.7 percent) mark in BIG EAST tournament action for an overall record of 47-12 (79.7 percent) against league opponents. Of Notre Dame's 12 losses, seven have come against Connecticut, and on all five times, the Huskies were ranked in the top three nationally. The Irish have lost only to four other BIG EAST teams -- Rutgers (twice), Boston College, Villanova and Miami.
Irish Tough At Home Against BIG EAST Foes: Notre Dame is 25-2 (.926) against BIG EAST opponents at the Joyce Center since joining the league in 1995-96. The only two Irish losses at the Joyce Center have come against Connecticut. Notre Dame was a perfect 9-0 at home in league action last season.
Irish Versus Ranked Opponents: Notre Dame is 0-4 against ranked foes this season with losses to Duke, Connecticut and Wisconsin.