March 23, 2004
2004 NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Championship East Region
5-Notre Dame (21-10) vs. 13-Middle Tennessee State (24-8)
FINAL SCORE: Notre Dame 59, Middle Tennessee State 46
Notre Dame reached the Sweet Sixteen for the sixth time in the last eight years and improved to 20-9 (.700) all-time in NCAA Championship action, 6-3 in second-round play, and 8-2 (.800) in East Region action. Middle Tennessee drops to 2-7 overall and 0-2 in the second round of the tournament, having previously lost 91-59 to Louisiana Tech in the second round of the 1983 championship.
Notre Dame is one of just five teams in the country to have reached the Sweet Sixteen at least six times in the last eight years. The others in that elite group are Tennessee (eight appearances), Connecticut (seven coming into tonight's game vs. Auburn), Louisiana Tech (seven), and Duke (seven).
Notre Dame extended its winning streak in the Joyce Center to 20 consecutive games. The Irish have not lost at home since a 73-52 decision against #3 Connecticut on Jan. 20, 2003.
The Irish finished 2003-04 with a 15-0 record in the Joyce Center, marking the third time in the last five seasons Notre Dame has gone undefeated at home. The Irish also went 15-0 in 1999-2000 and 2000-01. Over the last five years, Notre Dame holds a 66-5 (.930) record in the Joyce Center. Since 1995-96, the Irish are 226-9 (.962) at home.
Notre Dame seniors Le'Tania Severe, Monique Hernandez, Jeneka Joyce, and Anne Weese finish their careers having helped the Irish to a 51-5 (.912) record at the Joyce Center over the past four seasons. They concluded their careers having won 20 home games in a row, dating back to a 73-52 loss against #3 Connecticut on Jan. 20, 2003. Notre Dame was 23-1 (.958) at home against non-conference opponents over that span.
After a Middle Tennessee three-pointer by Jennifer Justice gave the Lady Raiders a 26-25 lead with 1:12 to play in the first half, Notre Dame proceeded to go on a 17-0 run. MTSU went 7:19 without scoring until Krystle Horton made a free throw with 13:53 remaining in the game. The Lady Raiders went 11:00 without a field goal during the stretch before Tia Stovall made a jump shot with 10:12 left to play.
Over a 7:28 span that proved to be decisive, Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 15 of Notre Dame's 18 points. The run began when her jumper brought the Irish to within 21-19 with 4:33 left in the first half and culminated with a jump shot to give the Irish a 35-26 lead.
Notre Dame junior forward Jacqueline Batteast was named an Associated Press honorable mention All-American on Tuesday afternoon. She is the sixth player in school history to be granted All-America status, and the first since Alicia Ratay garnered honorable mention honors in 2002.
Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast matched her career high with 27 points, tying her output against Auburn in the 2003-04 season opener. She made 13 field goals, also setting a career best, surpassing her 12 against the Tigers.
Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast's 13 field goals matched the most-ever for an Irish player in the NCAA Championship (Beth Morgan, vs. Alabama in 1997). Her 13-of-17 shooting (.765) was the fifth-best performance by an Irish player in the NCAAs. Her 27 points were the seventh-highest output by an Irish player in NCAA tournament play and her 12 rebounds were the ninth-highest total in NCAA action.
Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast had 27 points and 12 rebounds to register her 12th double-double of the season and 31st of her career.
Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast averaged 22.0 points and 11.5 rebounds over the first two games of the NCAA Championship. Prior to this season, Batteast averaged 6.6 points and 6.6 rebounds in five NCAA tournament contests, having never scored more than 13 in a game.
Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast finished with 27 points, marking her ninth performance of 20 or more points this season and 20th of her career. She has led Notre Dame in scoring 22 times this season and 45 times in her career.
Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast had one blocked shot tonight to move into a tie for fifth place on the Irish career list with 124, along with Trena Keys.
Notre Dame forward Jacqueline Batteast finished with 12 rebounds to bring her career total to 735, moving her past Krissi Davis (1987-91, 730) into eighth place on the Irish career list.
Notre Dame forward Courtney LaVere had three blocked shots for the second game in a row.
Notre Dame guard Jeneka Joyce was 3-4 from three-point range to bring her career percentage to .377, moving her into a tie for seventh place in the Irish record book, along with Mollie Peirick (1994-98). Her .750 percentage tied her for the second-best NCAA effort by a Notre Dame player in history (minimum three made).
Notre Dame forward Crystal Erwin played a career-high 25 minutes, surpassing her previous mark of 23 (vs. Dayton). She also registered a career-best four steals.
Notre Dame guard Monique Hernandez tied her career high with four assists, matching her output against Syracuse earlier this month.
Lady Raider forward Krystle Horton had 18 points to lead Middle Tennessee in scoring for the 13th time this season.
Middle Tennessee guard Patrice Holmes had five assists tonight to extend her streak with at least one assist to 67 games, dating back to late 2001-02.
Middle Tennessee guard Keisha McClinic, the Sun Belt Conference Defensive Player of the Year, had six steals tonight. She had at least one steal in every game this season and had five or more on nine occasions.
MTSU forward Krystle Horton played 36 minutes to end her freshman season having played 1,051, a Lady Raider rookie record.
NOTRE DAME TEAM NOTES
Notre Dame held its opponent to fewer than 50 points for the sixth time this season, including in five of 15 games at home. The Irish previously did it against Dayton (78-41), Virginia Tech (53-40), at Syracuse (64-35), Villanova (38-36), and Syracuse (54-33).
The Irish finished the game 26-47 from the field for a 55.3%. It was the fourth-best shooting performance of the season for Notre Dame and the seventh time the Irish shot 50% or better from the field.
Over the past two seasons, Notre Dame is giving up just 55.4 points in NCAA tournament play, holding opponents under 50 twice in five games.
Notre Dame is now 47-2 (.959) in its last 49 non-conference home games, dating back to the 1994-95 season.
The Irish are 10-2 all-time against opponents in the NCAA Tournament against opponents whom they are facing for the first time in the NCAA Women's Championship.
Notre Dame made just three free throws (on eight attempts), matching its game low for the season. The Irish were 3-12 at West Virginia on Jan. 17.
In the first half, Notre Dame had seven offensive rebounds, while MTSU managed just six defensive rebounds on Irish misses.
Notre Dame turned the ball over six times in its first nine possessions of the game, marking a sharp contrast to its start in Sunday's first-round victory over Southwest Missouri State, when the Irish did not turn the ball over in the first 11 minutes of the contest.
MIDDLE TENNESSEE TEAM NOTES
The Lady Raiders finished the season with a 24-8 record. Their win total was the third-highest in school history, behind only the 1982-83 (26-5) and 1995-96 (24-6) squads.
Middle Tennessee had won five consecutive games and 10 of its last 11 heading into the game.
MTSU's 32.7% (18-55) field-goal percentage was a season low. Their previous low mark was 32.8% against Alabama on Jan. 8.
Middle Tennessee did not attempt a free throw until Krystle Horton split a pair with 13:53 remaining in the game.
In the first half, 17 of MTSU's 26 points came off turnovers. Notre Dame committed 13 in the opening half.
MTSU's 46 points were the fewest for the Lady Raiders since a 79-43 loss at home to Georgia on Dec. 30, 2002. It marked the lowest Middle Tennessee scoring output in a road game since losing 76-44 at Mississippi on Dec. 16, 1999.
Middle Tennessee had just one double-figure scorer for the third time this season.
Only two players - Notre Dame's Jacqueline Batteast and MTSU's Krystle Horton - scored in double figures. Batteast finished with 27, while Horton had 18.
This was the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and Middle Tennessee and the first-ever trip to the Joyce Center by a Sun Belt Conference team. Prior to tonight, Notre Dame had a 1-0 all-time record against teams in the Sun Belt Conference, having defeated Florida International 68-62 in Dec. 19, 1999. Middle Tennessee was 1-2 against BIG EAST Conference foes heading into the game, having lost to Miami in 1980-81 and split a pair of contests with West Virginia (W, 93-67 in 1984-85; L, 77-60 in 1996-97).
Notre Dame is making its ninth consecutive appearance in the NCAA tournament and 11th overall. Middle Tennessee is making its eighth trip to the NCAA Championship and first since 1998.
This marks the fourth time - and third in the last five years - Notre Dame's Joyce Center has played host to NCAA Championship action. Prior to this year, the Irish won a pair of games on their home floor in 2000 and 2001 and lost to Minnesota at home in the first round of the '94 tournament. Notre Dame now stands 6-1 at the Joyce Center in NCAA play, including six victories in a row.
The Irish received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and a number-five seeding after finishing tied for second (12-4) in the BIG EAST Conference and losing in the quarterfinals of the league tournament. Middle Tennessee gained the Sun Belt's automatic bid, winning the conference tournament after finishing first in the East Division (10-4) during the regular season.
Notre Dame has been a No. 5 seed or higher in four of the last six NCAA Championships.
Notre Dame becomes the fourth No. 5 seed in the East Region to reach the Sweet Sixteen since the field was expanded to 64 teams in 1994. Previous fifth seeds to win a pair of contests in the region were George Washington in 1997, Oklahoma in 2000, and Boston College in 2003.
With tonight's result, teams that won their first-round game in the NCAA tournament in overtime are now 5-17 in second-round play.
Notre Dame became the second BIG EAST Conference team to reach the Sweet Sixteen in 2004. Connecticut had a chance to become the third league team in the final 16, as it took on Auburn in the second round.