Jan. 8, 2014
#2/2 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (13-0 / 1-0 ACC) vs. Boston College Eagles (10-5 / 1-0 ACC)
DATE: Jan. 9, 2014
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: ND leads 12-5
1ST MTG: BC 59-55 (12/30/83)
LAST MTG: ND 102-54 (11/23/08)
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356; UND.com/buytickets
No. 2 Fighting Irish Welcome Boston College To Town Thursday Night
While Notre Dame's first season in the Atlantic Coast Conference presents many new challenges, there are some familiar faces along the way, and the first of those pays a visit to Purcell Pavilion Thursday night when the No. 2 Fighting Irish welcome former BIG EAST foe Boston College to town for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest. The game will be streamed live on the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
The Fighting Irish (13-0) opened their inaugural ACC campaign on a positive note Sunday, dispatching Clemson, 71-51 at Purcell Pavilion. Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd scored 12 of her game-high 16 points after halftime, while senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride also had 16 points and senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa collected her fourth double-double of the year (and second in a row) with 15 points and a season high-tying 13 rebounds.
The Notre Dame-Boston College Series
Notre Dame is 12-5 all-time against Boston College, and has won nine of the past 11 meetings between the schools (one of those losses coming in the postseason in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Championship in West Lafayette, Ind.), including both ends of a non-conference series in 2007 and 2008 (the latter being the most recent game in the rivalry, a 102-54 Fighting Irish win on Nov. 23, 2008, in Chestnut Hill, Mass.).
Notre Dame also is 8-0 all-time against BC at Purcell Pavilion, including an 88-58 victory the last time the Eagles came to town on Nov. 24, 2007.
Notre Dame and Boston College played alongside one another as members of the BIG EAST Conference from 1996-2005, with the Fighting Irish going 10-3 against the Eagles in that span (all three losses coming on BC's home floor at Conte Forum).
The Last Time Notre Dame And Boston College Met
Becca Bruszewski scored 18 points to lead six players in double figures and No. 15 Notre Dame shot 65 percent from the field to cruise to a 102-54 win over Boston College on Nov. 23, 2008, at Conte Forum in Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Carolyn Swords led the Eagles with 16 points and seven rebounds.
Notre Dame led 49-25 at halftime and never had its lead fall below 20 points in the second half.
The Fighting Irish used an 8-0 run early in the contest to open their first double-digit lead of the game (20-10) on Bruszewski's jumper. They closed the first half by outscoring the Eagles, 15-3, over the final 4:13. Mallory scored five points and Williamson had a pair of baskets in the run as Notre Dame used a tight defense on the perimeter that led to a number of turnovers and easy transition baskets.
The Fighting Irish shot 59 percent in the opening 20 minutes. BC committed 17 of its 28 turnovers in opening half.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Boston College Met At Purcell Pavilion
Notre Dame knocked Boston College out of its game plan with a pressing defense, forcing the Eagles into 33 turnovers.
The No. 23/24 Fighting Irish got 41 points off the turnovers en route to an 88-58 victory on Nov. 24, 2007, at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame opened a 10-point lead in less than five minutes and Boston College never got any closer.
Five Fighting Irish players scored in double figures, led by Lindsay Schrader with 16 points, Charel Allen with 15 and Ashley Barlow and Brittany Mallory with 13 each. Becca Bruszewski added 10 points.
Stefanie Murphy led the Eagles with 18 points and Carolyn Swords added 11 points and nine rebounds.
Allen scored six points to help Notre Dame take a 14-4 lead as Boston College struggled against full-court pressure, turning the ball over four times in the first five minutes. The Fighting Irish went ahead 38-20 when Mallory hit a three-pointer with 4:13 left in the second half and led 46-30 at the half.
The Eagles scored two quick baskets by Murphy and Mickel Picco to start the second half and cut Notre Dame's lead to 46-34. However, the Fighting Irish defense quickly forced four turnovers, sparking a 9-0 run to regain control.
Other Notre Dame-Boston College Series Tidbits
Getting The Jump
At 13-0, Notre Dame is off to the third-best start in the program's 37-year history. The only times the Fighting Irish opened with a better record than this season were in 2000-01 (when they reeled off a school-record 23 consecutive wins en route to a 34-2 final record and the program's first national championship) and 2009-10 (when they started 15-0 on the way to a 29-6 record and spot in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen).
The Comforts Of Home
Notre Dame has won 19 consecutive home games since a 73-61 loss to third-ranked Baylor on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish currently own the nation's fourth-longest active home winning streak, with this run also the fourth-longest in school history (longest since a 20-game stretch from Jan. 12, 2011-Feb. 5, 2012, a run that ended a week later with a 65-63 loss to West Virginia).
Notre Dame also has won its last 11 conference home games since that loss to WVU in 2012, when both the Fighting Irish and Mountaineers were members of the BIG EAST Conference.
Notre Dame has won a school-record 26 consecutive regular season road games and 33 of its last 38 overall, including the Dec. 29 victory at Oregon State. The Fighting Irish last tasted defeat on the road in the regular season on Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 setback at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
The highlight of this current run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Conn., earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
The Fighting Irish also have won a school-record 16 consecutive conference regular season road games, with their last loss coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).
A Helping Hand
The Fighting Irish entered the weekend leading the nation in assists at 22.8 per game. Notre Dame has dished out at least 21 helpers in 10 games thus far (including a season-high 31 dimes against UCLA on Dec. 7), with the Fighting Irish piling up assists on 66.9 percent of their made field goals this year (297 of 444).
Notre Dame also ranks fifth in the nation (and tops in the ACC) in assist/turnover ratio (1.52).
That's Some Sharp Shooting
Notre Dame currently is setting the pace nationally with a .510 field goal percentage, thanks in part to a recent surge that has seen Notre Dame shoot better than 50 percent from the field in four of its last six games, including three in a row at better than 55 percent (.563 vs. UCLA, .586 at Michigan, .618 vs. Central Michigan).
It was the first time the Fighting Irish had three consecutive 55-percent outings since Nov. 20-29, 1997, when they did so in victories over North Carolina State (.565), Bowling Green (.558) and Ohio University (.567).
For the season, Notre Dame has shot better than 50 percent seven times, including three games where it topped 60 percent from the field.
The Fighting Irish sharpshooting brigade has been led by freshman guard Lindsay Allen, who ranks fourth in the ACC with a .591 field goal percentage, and senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa, who is tied for 10th in the conference with a .556 field goal percentage.
Freshman forward Kristina Nelson (.773), junior guard Madison Cable (.625) and junior forward Markisha Wright (.600) actually have higher field goal percentages than Allen and Achonwa, but none has made the minimum number of shots (three per game) to qualify for ACC ranking.
Dialing Long Distance
Although not usually a primary part of the Notre Dame arsenal, the Fighting Irish have found the three-point shot much to their liking this season. Notre Dame currently ranks sixth in the nation and leads the ACC with a .408 three-point percentage, with three different players connecting at 40 percent or better from beyond the arc.
Junior guard Madison Cable leads the way for the Fighting Irish with a league-leading .565 three-point percentage, including a career-high 5-of-6 from deep (part of a career-high 21 points) in the Dec. 7 win over UCLA.
Sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey has connected on a team-high 21 three-pointers this season, including a career-high four treys against Michigan (Dec. 14) and Central Michigan (Dec. 22), and she has made two triples in seven of her last nine outings. She is tied for 13th in the ACC with 1.6 three-pointers made per game, while her .362 percentage is good for 15th in the conference this week.
The other two Fighting Irish players hitting 40 percent from distance -- freshman guard Lindsay Allen (.471) and senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride (.444) -- haven't made the minimum 1.0 3FG/game to qualify for ACC ranking.
As a team, the Fighting Irish connected on 10-of-17 three-pointers in their victory over UCLA, their highest production from the arc in nearly four years, dating back to a similar 10-triple performance on Jan. 30, 2010, at Syracuse.
Spreading The Wealth
Notre Dame has had at least four players score in double figures in nine games this year, going 10-0 in those contests. Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 85-5 (.944) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 55 of their last 56 such outings (the lone loss coming in last year's NCAA Women's Final Four national semifinal against Connecticut).
Irish Join The 800-Win Club
Notre Dame's 106-72 victory over Central Michigan on Dec. 22 at Purcell Pavilion was a milestone for the Fighting Irish, who became the 27th program in NCAA Division I women's basketball history (and fourth Atlantic Coast Conference school) to record 800 victories. The Fighting Irish have posted a 803-316 (.718) record in their 37 seasons of varsity competition, dating back to the 1977-78 campaign.
Prior to Notre Dame reaching the milestone, the last school to reach the 800-win mark was LSU (which did so on Nov. 25, 2012, at Florida International). Along with the Fighting Irish, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland are the other three ACC members in the 800-victory club (with Duke and North Carolina State expected to follow later this year).
Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd has continued her development as one of the top young talents in the country this season, building on last year's selection as the United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) National Freshman of the Year.
The Lincolnwood, Ill., product currently ranks ninth in the ACC in scoring (17.3 ppg.) and 17th in rebounding (6.8 rpg.), sporting career-high marks in both areas. She also has four 20-point games thus far (including a career-high 30 points against Central Michigan on Dec. 22) after scoring 20 points twice during her rookie campaign.
Loyd stormed out of the gates this season, piling up 63 points in Notre Dame's first three games, wins over UNC Wilmington (19 points), No. 19/18 Michigan State (22 points) and Valparaiso (22 points).
Loyd's point production was the highest for a Fighting Irish player in the opening three contests of a season since 1998-99, when Danielle Green had 66 combined points in wins against No. 6 UCLA at home (23 points), at Butler (23) and No. 6/4 Duke at home (20).
Notre Dame's 1,000-Point Scorers
Senior tri-captains Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa will spend their final season at Notre Dame steadily climbing the program's all-time scoring list, after both entered the Fighting Irish 1,000-Point Club last year.
McBride currently ranks 16th in program history with 1,405 career points, having passed Shari Matvey (1,373 points from 1979-83) with her 18-point outing against South Dakota State on Jan. 2.
Meanwhile, Achonwa stands 25th in Notre Dame history with 1,186 points, closing in on the next rung up the ladder, held by Krissi Davis (1,194 from 1987-91).
Coming Up Aces
Senior forward/tri-captains Natalie Achonwa (nicknamed "Ace") also is making her way up Notre Dame's career charts in both rebounds and double-doubles. She currently ranks ninth on the rebounding list (802) and is tied for eighth on the double-doubles chart (24), moving up one spot on the latter rundown with 15 points and 13 rebounds against Clemson on Sunday.
Achonwa continues to remain among the top 10 in school history with a .543 career field goal percentage, presently ranking ninth in program annals.
Freshman Lindsay Allen got the call from head coach Muffet McGraw to start at point guard in Notre Dame's season opener against UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9 at Purcell Pavilion. Allen finished with 11 points in her debut game, including the team's first five points of the season.
It was the first time a Fighting Irish rookie point guard started the season opener since Nov. 26, 1994, when Mollie Peirick cracked the lineup and played 38 minutes (two points, five rebounds, three assists) in a 65-60 overtime loss at No. 25 Seton Hall.
Allen has not disappointed in her debut campaign, averaging 8.7 points and 3.8 assists per game (the latter ranking 11th in the ACC). She also is fourth in the ACC with a 2.27 assist/turnover ratio and a .591 field goal percentage, and is just outside the top 15 in the conference with a team-high 1.69 steals per game.
The Second Platoon
Another reason for Notre Dame's success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging 29 points per game and have outscored the opponent's bench by better than a 2-to-1 margin (29.0 ppg. to 14.6 ppg.).
In fact, only three Fighting Irish opponents to date has finished with a bench scoring advantage against Notre Dame -- No. 19/18 Michigan State (18-11 edge), No. 25 DePaul (33-32) and Clemson (13-4).
Sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey (9.1 ppg.) and freshman forward Taya Reimer (9.0 ppg.) head up the strong Notre Dame bench contingent, which has seen players score in double figures 11 different times, including six by Mabrey.
Call Her Mabrey
While the season is less than half over, certainly an early favorite as the nation's most improved player would have to be Notre Dame sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey. The Belmar, N.J., resident has emerged as a key reserve for the Fighting Irish, averaging 9.1 points and 3.4 assists per game, while leading the ACC (and ranking 20th in the nation) with a 2.75 assist/turnover ratio, after logging 3.0 ppg. and 1.3 apg. with a 1.06 A/TO mark last year.
What's more, Mabrey already has scored in double figures six times this year (including a career-high 19 points in the season opener against UNC Wilmington) after doing so three times in 30 games last season.
Next Game: Virginia
Notre Dame begins a three-game road swing at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday when it travels to Charlottesville, Va., to take on ACC foe Virginia at John Paul Jones Arena. This will mark just the second time the Fighting Irish have visited the UVa campus, and the first since Jan. 4, 1988 (during head coach Muffet McGraw's first season at Notre Dame), when the Cavaliers earned a 79-59 win.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director