Jan. 3, 2010
DATE: January 4, 2010
#3 Irish Head To Purdue For Monday Night Matchup On ESPN2
Notre Dame (12-0) comes into Monday night's contest on the heels of its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season, defeating No. 18/16 Vanderbilt on Thursday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion. The Irish fashioned a 15-2 run that bridged halftime to take the lead for good, holding the Commodores at arm's length down the stretch for the victory.
Fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader registered her second double-double of the season (and 13th of her career, setting a school record for guards) with game highs of 18 points and 14 rebounds to pace Notre Dame.
Other Notre Dame Notables
A Quick Look At Purdue
Nevertheless, Purdue (7-6, 2-1 Big Ten) looks to have found its rhythm of late, winning four of its last five games, including a 76-66 victory over in-state (and conference) rival Indiana on Thursday afternoon at Mackey Arena. Sophomore sharpshooting guard Brittany Rayburn scored a game-high 22 points (including her team's first 11 markers) and sophomore center Chelsea Jones notched a double-double (14 points, game-high 11 rebounds) to pace the Boilermakers, who erased a three-point halftime deficit with a strong second-half effort.
Rayburn leads Purdue in scoring (16.2 ppg.) and is second in assists (2.5 apg.) and steals (1.5 spg.) with a .338 three-point percentage, while senior guard Jodi Howell is second in scoring (9.0 ppg.) and tops in three-point percentage (.424).
Head coach Sharon Versyp is in her fourth season at her alma mater with an 82-38 (683) record. Including her prior stops at Maine and Indiana, Versyp has a 10-year career coaching record of 199-103 (.659), with an 0-4 record against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Purdue Series
The recent series history also has tipped in Notre Dame's favor, with the Irish having won three in a row (their longest series winning streak) and four of the past five encounters. Stepping further back, the teams are 8-8 in the series since Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
Watson cut No. 17/20 Purdue's lead to two points by making two three-pointers after the 11th-ranked Fighting Irish went seven minutes in the first half without a basket, starting the game by making just 3 of 22 shots. Lechlitner then scored 13 of her career-high 19 points in the second half to lead Notre Dame to the 62-51 victory on Dec. 7, 2008, at the Joyce Center.
The Irish (7-0) needed Lechlitner to play well with leading scorer Ashley Barlow missing her second straight game with a concussion. Lechlitner was 2-of-3 from three-point range, hit several more jumpers from outside and scored inside as well, driving to the basket when the Boilermakers (5-3) focused more on Notre Dame's perimeter game.
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton led the Boilermakers with 18 points and 10 rebounds, but the Irish outrebounded Purdue 47-35, repeatedly holding them to one shot. The Irish also outscored the Boilermakers 22-18 in the paint to overcome Notre Dame's 34.4-percent shooting.
Watson finished with 13 points and Lindsay Schrader added 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Irish. Lakisha Freeman had 12 points for the Boilermakers.
Notre Dame, which hadn't trailed by more than three points all season, fell behind 18-9 when FahKara Malone made a pair of free throws with 7:04 left in the first half. That's when Watson made her three-pointers, then Schrader tied the score on a 15-foot jumper with 3 minutes left. The Irish led 23-22 at halftime on Watson's third three-pointer.
Lechlitner scored seven points during a decisive 14-4 run in the second half, giving the Irish a 41-29 lead on an inside basket with 8:48 left. The Irish extended the lead to 45-32 when Schrader scored on a driving layup.
Purdue used a 6-0 run to close to 45-38 on a jumper by Freeman, but couldn't get any closer.
The Last Time ND and Purdue Met In West Lafayette
Danielle Campbell had 13 points, seven rebounds and six blocks for Purdue (3-5), but she was 5- for-13 from the field. Kalika France scored 11 points and Lakisha Freeman had five points and 11 rebounds.
Notre Dame won its sixth straight and claimed its first win over the Boilermakers in nine tries at Mackey Arena. The Irish shot 52 percent from the field in the second half, while the Boilermakers shot just 26 percent.
Purdue led 36-32 early in the second half before Barlow made back-to-back three-pointers to give the Irish a 38-36 edge with 12:07 left.
Barlow made another three-pointer, then Devereaux Peters scored on a putback to make it 49-41 with 5:46 to play. The Irish led by at least six points the rest of the way.
Notre Dame led 15-14 before Purdue went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a three-pointer from France, to take a 21-15 lead with 4:48 left in the first half. The Boilermakers led 25-20 at halftime, despite shooting 36 percent from the field. Purdue held Notre Dame to 35 percent shooting in the first 20 minutes.
Other Notre Dame-Purdue Series Tidbits
Notre Dame vs. The Big Ten Conference
What's more, Notre Dame has won 12 of its last 18 games vs. Big Ten schools, following a 68-67 win at No. 21 Michigan State on Nov. 19.
The Irish are 116-32 (.784) all-time against other Indiana schools, with a 59-21 (.734) record outside of Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame also has won 11 consecutive games against in-state opponents (four in a row on the road) since a 54-51 loss to Indiana on Dec. 3, 2006, at the Joyce Center.
Getting The Jump
Spread The Wealth
That trend has been particularly evident in Notre Dame's last eight games, with a different player setting the pace in scoring six times, with junior guard Brittany Mallory (Valparaiso and UCF) and fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader (Eastern Michigan and Vanderbilt) the only repeat leading scorers for the Irish.
Stat Sheet Stuffers
Junior guard Brittany Mallory (Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Oklahoma and Vanderbilt) has a team-high three 5-5-5 games, while freshman guard Skylar Diggins (UAPB and Charlotte) has two 5-5-5 outings, and senior guard Ashley Barlow (Iona) and sophomore guard Natalie Novosel (Eastern Michigan) have one apiece.
Taking What We Can Get
In a two-game stretch bookending the Christmas holiday, Notre Dame harassed its opponents into a combined 79 turnovers (43 by Charlotte on Dec. 20 and 26 at UCF on Dec. 29).
Charlotte's 43 turnovers tied for the second-most opponent giveaways in a game in school history and the most since Dec. 8, 1981, when the Irish forced sister school Saint Mary's (Ind.) into 43 turnovers during the program's second season at the Division I level. The Notre Dame record for opponent turnovers in a game is 48 by Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Jan. 11, 1980, at DeKalb, Ill.
The Irish have been particularly hard on opponents in seven home games this season, forcing 29.1 turnovers per game (at least 29 in five of the seven Purcell Pavilion contests) while holding visitors to 52.6 points a night and a .330 field goal percentage (134-of-406).
The Five-Finger Discount
What's more, Notre Dame has been particularly aggressive in the past five games, topping the 20-steal mark three times and averaging 18.2 steals per game during that span.
In addition, the past seven road losses for the Irish have been decided by an average of 8.4 points per game (all by 12 points or fewer), including all five road setbacks last season (average margin of 8.6 ppg.).
Notre Dame posted 10 wins on the road in each of the past two years, marking just the second time in school history the Irish have logged double-digit win totals away from home in consecutive seasons (11 wins in 1989-90; 10 wins in 1990-91).
Pomp And Circumstance
With Williamson collecting her diploma next week, all 58 Notre Dame women's basketball student-athletes who have completed their athletic and academic eligibility under head coach Muffet McGraw (1987-present) have earned their degrees.
This marks the 46th consecutive AP poll appearance for the Irish, with the No. 3 ranking not only matching a season high (Dec. 7 & 21), but also being Notre Dame's highest since the week of Nov. 29, 2004, when the Irish also were ranked third.
What's more, Notre Dame's No. 4 preseason ranking on Oct. 30 was its the highest ever, topping its No. 6 debut in the 2000-01 poll.
With their current poll position, the Irish now have appeared in the top 10 of the AP poll during 10 of the past 14 seasons (1996-97 through 2009-10).
Notre Dame has been ranked in the AP poll for 186 weeks during the program's 33-year history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88). McGraw ranks 13th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also is 23rd all-time in that category.
In addition, the Irish spent a second consecutive week at a season-high No. 3 in the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA coaches' poll (Dec. 29). It's the highest Notre Dame has been ranked in the coaches' survey since the 2004-05 season, when the Irish were third for two separate weeks (Nov. 30 and Jan. 5) during the year.
This marks the second consecutive season Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today/WBCA poll, as well as eight of the past 12 campaigns (1998-99 to present).
Notre Dame was ranked in the coaches' survey for 38 consecutive weeks before falling just outside the Top 25 in the final poll of last season. With their No. 3 ranking, the Irish have appeared in the coaches' poll for 178 weeks during their history (all coming during McGraw's tenure).
More Polling Data
Besides her 186 AP poll appearances while coaching at Notre Dame, McGraw was the starting point guard at Saint Joseph's (Pa.) as a senior in 1977, helping the Hawks rise to No. 3 in the nation. Of the 24 people on this list, 12 currently are NCAA Division I head coaches (see accompanying chart).
Game #12 Recap: Vanderbilt
"It was good for us to get that test and that challenge," she said. "I thought we responded well."
The Fighting Irish, who hadn't trailed by more than five points all season, trailed by eight in the first half before pulling out the 74-69 victory on Thursday before a crowd of 9,149, the seventh sellout in the team's history.
It was the closest game for the Irish (12-0) since a 68-67 win at Michigan State on Nov. 19. It looked for a while as though the Irish would beat the Commodores (11-2) pulling away, with the Irish opening a 70-56 lead when Skylar Diggins made a pair of free throws with 3:43 left.
A 13-2 run by Vanderbilt cut the lead to 72-69 when Jessica Mooney hit a jumper in the paint with 7 seconds left, but Lindsay Schrader was fouled on the inbounds pass and made a pair of free throws to put the game away as the Irish moved to 4-0 vs. ranked opponents this year.
Schrader finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds for her 13th career double-double, a school record for a guard at Notre Dame, although the 6-foot senior plays much more like a post player most games.
"She's amazing," McGraw said. "She's just a workhorse. She's just going to work and be physical and she's just a nightmare to guard."
The Irish outscored Vanderbilt 22-10 on second-chance points, outrebounding the Commodores 56-41. Many of Notre Dame's rebounds came with Tiffany Clarke sitting on the bench with foul trouble, as she played just 24 minutes, finishing with 11 points and nine rebounds.
"Once she came out of the game I knew they were going to attack the basket and get second and third shots," Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. "Maybe a couple of those rebounds she would have gotten."
Balcomb said the other thing that hurt the Commodores was Notre Dame's 9-0 run to end the first half, giving the Irish a 40-34 lead at intermission.
"I thought these teams were very evenly matched and that one spurt where they shot 5 for 8 and got any offensive rebound they wanted in those four minutes was really important," she said.
Diggins added 15 points and seven rebounds for the Irish and Melissa Lechlitner added 14 points. Jence Rhoads led Vanderbilt with 18 points, Merideth Marsh added 11 and Jessica Mooney had 10.
Noting The Vanderbilt Game
The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were a pair of defeats to third-ranked teams in the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at Maryland in 2007) and a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003 in the finals of the WBCA Classic -- a game that saw the Buffaloes sink a desperation 30-footer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.
High Value Freshman
Diggins, who also earned a spot on the BIG EAST Conference Weekly Honor Roll for her efforts, was the first Notre Dame rookie in a decade to collect all-tournament team honors in a regular-season event. Alicia Ratay was the last to do so, garnering a place on the 1999 Wachovia Women's Basketball Invitational all-tournament team after helping Notre Dame to wins over No. 9/12 North Carolina (99-86) and Liberty (85-68) in Richmond, Va.
Keeping It Close To Home
What's more, of the five current Notre Dame starters, four are from the state of Indiana -- senior guards Ashley Barlow (Indianapolis) and Melissa Lechlitner (Mishawaka), junior forward Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso) and freshman guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend) -- while the fifth (fifth-year senior guard Lindsay Schrader) is from Bartlett, Ill., located right outside Chicago.
As if that weren't enough, the quartet of Barlow, Lechlitner, Bruszewski and Schrader have been mainstays in the Irish lineup for the past two seasons and have a combined total of 265 career starts between them.
Current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey holds the school record with 132 games played from 1996-2001.
Schrader reached another endurance milestone on Dec. 12 against Valparaiso, becoming the 12th player in school history with 100 starting assignments in her career. Schrader now stands ninth in school history with 103 career starts, including a current streak of 61 in a row.
McGraw Joins Elite Notre Dame Club
Fencing's Michael DeCicco (680-45 from 1962-86) and Yves Auriol (525-33 from 1986-2002), and baseball's Jake Kline (558-449-5 from 1934-75) are the only other members of the "Fighting Irish Five Hundred Club," with one able to connect 75 years of Notre Dame athletics history and success via just four degrees of separation (Kline to DeCicco to Auriol to McGraw).
McGraw reached two other mileposts on Dec. 2 vs. Eastern Michigan, as she coached her 700th game at Notre Dame, as well as her 300th at Purcell Pavilion.
As it turned out, that EMU game also saw the school honor McGraw with an on-court post-game celebration for her 500th win, capped by a visit from her 19-year-old son, Murphy, who secretly drove four hours from his college campus at Indiana University in Bloomington to surprise his mother with a bouquet of flowers and the game ball from her milestone win.
Barlow currently ranks 15th in school history with 1,251 career points, while Schrader is 20th with 1,192 points. They could be joined by their fellow senior guard and tri-captain, Melissa Lechlitner, who has 785 points to date.
Only one other time in program history has Notre Dame fielded three 1,000-point scorers on its roster at the same time -- and it literally happened for less than one game. Ruth Riley, Niele Ivey and Kelley Siemon all reached the millennium mark and played on the 2000-01 Irish national championship squad, with Siemon reaching the milestone after scoring 10 points in her final collegiate contest -- Notre Dame's 68-66 title-game victory over Purdue in St. Louis.
Notre Dame also hit the century mark at home for the first time since Nov. 26, 2002, when the Irish toppled Cleveland State, 107-65 in the 2002-03 season opener.
Eight Is Enough (For Now)
Dishing Thirty-One Flavors
Leading the way for Notre Dame on that night was current Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey, who had a double-double with 14 points and 11 assists.
Half And Half
Notre Dame has led at the break in all 12 games this season, and has gone on to earn victories each time.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
Notre Dame has added seven more wins to the ledger this season with victories over Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Iona, South Carolina, Eastern Michigan, Valparaiso, Charlotte and UCF.
...But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Notre Dame already has added eight more wins to this ongoing record with its conquests of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Iona, No. 23/24 San Diego State, No. 20/17 Oklahoma, IPFW, Valparaiso and Charlotte.
Now That's A Home Court Advantage
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 83 of their last 90 non-BIG EAST contests (.922) at Purcell Pavilion, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Five of the seven losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents (four by 12 points or less) -- Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73 OT), Indiana in 2006 (54-51) and Minnesota in 2009 (79-71) -- with the other two defeats coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51) and 2008 (87-63). The Purdue loss also snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.
Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the former Joyce Center, posting a 330-85 (.795) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season.
It's Fan-Demonium At Notre Dame
While it's likely that some tickets will be made available for individual games during the weeks and days prior to the contests, there's a very real possibility that Notre Dame could approach a sell out for every one of its regular-season home games at the newly-refurbished 9,149-seat Purcell Pavilion. In fact, the crowd of 9,080 for the Nov. 15 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff was the largest season-opening audience in program history, more than 1,100 higher than the old mark set in 2001-02 (7,960 vs. Valparaiso).
Through seven home games this season, Notre Dame is averaging 8,527 fans per game, putting the Irish more than 700 fans above their school-record attendance average of 7,825 fans per game, also set in 2001-02.
Notre Dame has posted seven sellouts in program history, the most recent coming on Thursday afternoon, when the Irish drew 9,149 fans to Purcell Pavilion for their win over No. 18/16 Vanderbilt. It was the first sellout for Notre Dame since the renovated arena opened this fall.
Purcell Pavilion Opens Its Doors
The UAPB game was part of the culmination of a two-year project to upgrade the home for Notre Dame basketball and volleyball.
The first (exterior) phase of the project, that began in September 2008, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena. That structure will include a new three-story lobby, which will house the Notre Dame ticket operations (approximately 4,500 square feet) and a varsity shop to sell apparel and souvenirs (approximately 3,000 square feet), in addition to a new club seating and hospitality area.
Replacement of the existing arena seating footprint, including installation of single-color chair-back seating throughout the arena, began following the University's Commencement Exercises in May 2009 and was completed in time for the Irish volleyball team to play the first athletic event in the facility on Oct. 30 (a 3-1 win over Seton Hall).
One of the other unique features of this renovation stage was an intensive theming initiative on the upper concourse inside the arena walls, featuring many of the historic moments and visitors to the arena during its four-decade history. In addition, the facility signage took on a Celtic script, while the evolution of the distinctive Notre Dame monogram logo is prominently displayed on the concourse.
The University announced in October 2007 that this ambitious arena renovation had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III, the retired chairman and chief executive officer of Morgan Stanley.
Additional cornerstone donations were made by: Vincent J. Naimoli ('59), whose $5 million contribution will lead to the creation of the new Naimoli Family Club Room, and South Bend-area auto dealership owner Mike Leep Sr., whose generous gift will be recognized with the naming of the Mike Leep Sr. Varsity Shop.
Both of those areas, along with the three-story Rosenthal Atrium (named for former Notre Dame director of athletics Dick Rosenthal) will open to the public on Jan. 9, when the Irish basketball teams play host to a BIG EAST doubleheader (women vs. Villanova at 2 p.m., men vs. West Virginia at 8 p.m.).
Irish On Your Radio Dial
LeSEA originates all Notre Dame women's basketball games, with those events carried on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), marking a return to the FM side of the dial for the first time since the 1998-99 season. Combined, these two stations blanket the nation's No. 89 media market (South Bend-Elkhart), covering a 21-county area in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan that contains more than 1.35 million listeners (better than 800,000 in the greater South Bend area alone). All told, Notre Dame's women's basketball network stretches from Kalamazoo, Mich., to the north, North Judson, Ind., to the west, Macy, Ind., (home of former Irish All-America center Ruth Riley) to the south, and LaGrange, Ind., to the east.
Women's basketball game broadcasts also continue to be streamed live and free of charge on Notre Dame's official athletics web site (www.UND.com) through the Fighting Irish All-Access multimedia package.
Bob Nagle, the voice of Notre Dame women's basketball from 1996-97 through 1998-99 (including the program's first NCAA Final Four berth in 1997), returns for his second season in his second stint as the radio play-by-play broadcaster for the Irish.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
In addition, Notre Dame continues to expand its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Irish regular-season home games not selected for commercial TV coverage (with the exception of the Nov. 15 game vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff) will be webcast live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com, via the site's free multimedia package, Fighting Irish All-Access. And, the Thanksgiving weekend Paradise Jam was webcast in its entirety through Fox College Sports Broadband on a pay-per-view basis.
This year's TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Beginning with the NCAA championship season of 2000-01 and continuing through this year, Notre Dame has played in 149 televised games, including 96 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
This marks the first time in program history that the same players are serving as captains in consecutive seasons.
Irish Sign Three For 2010-11 Season
Natalie Achonwa (last name pronounced uh-CHAWN-wuh), a 6-3 forward from Guelph, Ontario (St. Mary's Catholic Secondary School/National Elite Development Academy), Ariel Braker, a 6-1 forward from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich. (Grosse Pointe North High School) and Kayla McBride, a 5-11 guard from Erie, Pa. (Villa Maria Academy) all made their official commitments to the Fighting Irish during the early signing period, which ended Nov. 18.
All three student-athletes are rated among the top 50 players in the country by various national recruiting services. As a group, this trio is ranked as the No. 10 recruiting class in the country by All-Star Girls Report (and a consensus top-16 class by other recruiting services), giving Notre Dame a Top 25 recruiting class for the 14th consecutive year, a streak only two other schools in the country (Connecticut and Tennessee) can match. It's also the third consecutive top-10 recruiting class for the Fighting Irish.
"I'm very excited about the class that we're signing this year," McGraw said. "I think we really addressed our needs, with three very good players coming in. They're going to change the way we do some things at both ends of the floor next year. We're going to be able to be more aggressive on defense because we're adding athleticism, length and speed, and on offense, we'll look at ways that we can take advantage of the size that we're going to have. It will probably be a whole new look, going from the more guard-oriented team that we have now, to next year when we'll have some depth in the post as well."
"Notre Dame emphasized strengthening their perimeter game and did so with size, athleticism and versatility," said Dan Olson, director of the Collegiate Girls Basketball Report.
The full press release, with a complete look at the newest members of the Notre Dame women's basketball program, is available on-line at http://www.und.com/sports/w-baskbl/spec-rel/111309aab.html.
Irish Fans Crave Another Big Mac Attack
In the three-year history of the promotion (and counting exhibition games), Notre Dame has hit the 88-point mark 17 times, including wins this season over Indianapolis (exhibition), Arkansas-Pine Bluff, IPFW, Valparaiso and Charlotte.
It should come as no surprise that in the short history of the promotion, the Notre Dame player with the most "Big Mac" baskets shares the same initials with the tasty burger -- junior guard Brittany Mallory, who sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times during the promotion's inaugural run in 2007-08.
And for those tracking such things (or perhaps falling under the heading of "SID has way too much time on his hands"), 10 different players have converted the "burger ball", including nine current members of the Irish roster.
What's more, of the 17 Big Mac games to date, nine have been reached on two-point baskets, five on free throws, and three on three-pointers (including the past two home games).
Next Game: Villanova
Villanova (10-2) has won six consecutive games as it prepares for its BIG EAST opener on Wednesday at Providence.