Jan. 18, 2008
#17/15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (14-3 / 2-1 BIG EAST) vs.Georgetown Hoyas (10-6 / 0-3 BIG EAST)
DATE: January 19, 2008
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Washington, D.C. - McDonough Arena (2,400)
SERIES: ND leads 21-2
1ST MTG: 1/6/83 (ND 78-68)
LAST MTG: 2/21/07 (ND 73-48)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM (Sean Stires, p-b-p)
TV: BIG EAST TV (live)- Beth Mowins, p-b-p - Charlene Curtis, color
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (202) 687-4692
In the midst of one of the strongest BIG EAST Conference lineups in recent years, No. 17/15 Notre Dame reaches the quarter pole in its league schedule Saturday when it pays a visit to Georgetown for a 2 p.m. (ET) game at McDonough Arena. The game will be broadcast as part of the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Networks Game of the Week package, with WHME-TV (Channel 46) in South Bend airing the game on a same-day delayed basis at 7 p.m. (ET).
The Irish (14-3, 2-1 BIG EAST) got back in the win column Wednesday night with a hard-fought 69-58 victory over Villanova at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame rebounded well from a poor shooting night at West Virginia, connecting on 54.3 percent of its shots and forcing Villanova into 24 turnovers, its highest total in six years.
Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow led four Irish players in double figures with 16 points. Freshman forward Devereaux Peters added a season-high 15 points and seven steals, the most for a Notre Dame player in three years.
Setting The Standard
Under the guidance of 21st-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country's leading women's basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 14 NCAA Tournaments (including a current streak of 12 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past 11 years. Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women's Final Four twice, winning college basketball's ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.
In its history, Notre Dame has developed nine All-Americans, nine WNBA players (including six draft picks in the past seven years) and four USA Basketball veterans (nine medals won). Now in their 31st season in 2007-08, the Irish own an all-time record of 627-281 (.691).
Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
Saint Joseph's (Pa.) '77
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
Even after a 20-12 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, Notre Dame still continues to fly below the national radar. Head coach Muffet McGraw wouldn't want it any other way.
Last year, the Irish learned quickly that respect is something that isn't handed to you, but rather earned on the court. It's also a quality that takes time to develop and doesn't come from trophy cases or record books. So although Notre Dame was tabbed fifth in the preseason BIG EAST Conference balloting, it's not a great concern to McGraw and her charges.
Instead, they focus on the things they can control and prefer to let the outside world judge them when the season is over. This year could prove to be unlike any in recent memory for Notre Dame.
For one, the Irish will roll out some impressive depth, going virtually two-deep at every floor position. In addition, Notre Dame's new offensive system (a Princeton-based set with four guards and a post) continues to evolve, building upon last year's 70.1 point-per-game average that was its highest since the 2000-01 NCAA national championship season.
Senior guard Charel Allen is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Irish, leading the team in both categories last year (17.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg.). She also was a first-team all-BIG EAST and WBCA honorable mention All-America selection, and was a finalist for the 2007 USA U21 World Championship Team that struck gold this past summer in Moscow.
Allen's backcourt partner and classmate is point guard Tulyah Gaines.
Now in her second full season at the helm of the Notre Dame offense, the speedy Gaines averaged 9.6 points per game along with team highs of 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. She also is a two-year team captain who commands instant respect from teammates, coaches and opponents.
The Irish will benefit from the return of junior guard Lindsay Schrader, who missed the entire 2006-07 season with a torn ACL in her right knee. Schrader, who retains three years of athletic eligibility, was Notre Dame's second-leading scorer (10.5 ppg.) and top rebounder (5.4 rpg.) as a rookie in 2005-06 and will look to regain that form this season.
Last year saw Notre Dame break new ground by becoming the first school ever to put three players on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Guards Ashley Barlow (10.3 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) and Melissa Lechlitner (6.3 ppg., 2.7 apg.) will provide a superb complement to the veteran Allen-Gaines tandem, while center Erica Williamson (6.1 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 1.3 bpg.) showed flashes of potential throughout her rookie season and is poised for increased development this year.
Headlining a three-player freshman class (ranked 11th nationally by Blue Star Basketball) is Devereaux Peters, a smooth 6-2 forward who was a consensus All-American as a senior last year at national powerhouse Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill. Fellow post Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind.) finished third in last season's Indiana Miss Basketball voting and was a perennial all-state pick. And, guard Brittany Mallory (Baltimore, Md.) offers a perimeter shooting threat, as well as a cerebral player who will mesh well in the Irish offensive system.
Potent Notables About The Irish
A Quick Look At Georgetown
Building a championship-caliber program takes time and patience, but Georgetown already is beginning to see the rewards for its hard work. The Hoyas enjoyed a fruitful non-conference season, reeling off 10 wins in 13 games, with all three losses on the road by single digits.
However, the BIG EAST season hasn't been quite so kind for GU (10-6, 0-3), which most recently lost its first home game in seven outings this season, 57-47 to No. 5 Rutgers on Tuesday night. Sophomore forward Jaleesa Butler scored a team-high 14 points for the Hoyas, who shot .319 from the floor and had 19 turnovers.
Senior forward Kieraah Marlow leads GU in scoring (15.2 ppg) and is second in rebounding (6.8 rpg), while Butler is second in scoring (8.9 ppg) and tops in rebounds (7.1 rpg).
Head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy has a 45-55 (.450) record in four seasons at Georgetown. She is 0-3 all-time vs. Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-Georgetown Series
Saturday's game will be the 24th in the series between Notre Dame and Georgetown, with the Irish holding a 21-2 record against the Hoyas. Notre Dame also has won the past four games in the series and 17 of 18 since joining the BIG EAST Conference prior to the 1995-96 season (going 15-1 in regular-season league play).
The Irish are 8-1 all-time against Georgetown at McDonough Arena, although their past two visits to Washington have been anything but ordinary. On Jan. 7, 2004, GU erased a six-point deficit in the final 43 seconds to stun Notre Dame, 76-73, snapping a 15-game series losing streak to the Irish. Then, on Jan. 21, 2006, Notre Dame pulled out a 54-52 win after leading by 17 points with 10 minutes to play, as the Hoyas closed on a 19-4 run and got a look at a potential game-winning three-pointer in the final seconds.
The Last Time Notre Dame And Georgetown Met
Notre Dame jumped to a 20-2 lead less than nine minutes into its game with Georgetown and never looked back, rolling to a 73-48 BIG EAST Conference victory over the Hoyas on Feb. 21, 2007, at the Joyce Center.
Melissa D'Amico led a quartet of Irish players who scored in double figures, with the 6-5 post registering a game-high 15 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) and a team-best seven rebounds. Tulyah Gaines added 14 points, four assists and four steals, while Charel Allen and Melissa Lechlitner each had 11 points.
As a team, the Irish turned in one of their best defensive efforts of the '06-07 season, holding Georgetown to an opponent season-low 48 points while forcing 29 turnovers. Kate Carlin was the lone Hoya to score in double figures, finishing with 15 points on five three-pointers. Notre Dame also clamped down on GU's leading scorer, Kieraah Marlow, who came into the contest averaging 16.2 points per game, but ended up with six points and one field goal (which came with 6:44 to play).
The Irish wasted little time in taking control of the game, scoring the first 11 points of the night, with Gaines tallying five markers and two steals during the opening spurt. A jumper in the lane by Georgetown's Shanice Fuller got the visitors on the board at the 15:01 mark, but Notre Dame answered with nine more points, taking a 20-2 lead on the first of two Lechlitner free throws with 11:10 remaining in the first half. During that time, the Irish made four of their first six shots, while limiting the Hoyas to one field goal on 11 attempts and causing 11 GU turnovers.
Georgetown then clawed its way back into the game with a 16-3 run over the next six minutes. A jumper by Kristin Heidloff trimmed the Notre Dame lead to 23-18 with 4:46 to go, but the Hoyas couldn't draw any closer. The Irish rebuilt a 33-23 edge by halftime when Ashley Barlow canned a jumper with 1:24 left.
Notre Dame went on a 7-2 run to start the second half, but Georgetown again battled back and got as close as 10 points on two occasions, the last at 43-33 on Carlin's fourth trey of the night with 13:50 left. However, Allen stepped forward and scored five consecutive points, igniting a 14-0 Irish charge during the ensuing five minutes that staggered the Hoyas for good. Notre Dame maintained a lead of at least 19 points the rest of the game, getting the margin as high as 25 points twice, including the final score.
The Last Time Notre Dame AndGeorgetown Met At McDonough Arena
Megan Duffy scored 16 points and No. 24/22 Notre Dame defeated Georgetown 54-52, on Jan. 21, 2006, at McDonough Arena in Washington. Melissa D'Amico added a game-high 10 rebounds for the Irish, who scored only one field goal in the last 10 minutes as late-charging Georgetown put together a 19-4 run.
Bethany LeSueur scored 19 points and Kieraah Marlow added 12 for the Hoyas. Kate Carlin's three-pointer from the right wing fell short at the buzzer, sending Georgetown to its third straight defeat.
Breona Gray could have sealed the game for the Irish, but missed the front end of a 1-and-1 with 14.9 ticks left after stealing Nikki Bozeman's pass on the previous possession.
Notre Dame led 19-6 early in the first half, as the Hoyas shot 1-of-11 from the floor in the opening six-plus minutes. The Irish led 32-18 at halftime and extended their lead to 17 points three times, the last on Charel Allen's layup with 10:07 left.
Other Notre Dame-Georgetown Series Tidbits
Irish Basketball In Our Nation's Capital
It's a big weekend for Notre Dame basketball fans in the Washington, D.C., area, as both the Irish men and women will be in town on Saturday to face Georgetown (the men will play at noon ET in the Verizon Center). Although the Notre Dame basketball programs have occasionally played on the same day at the Joyce Center, having both teams play in the same road city on the same day is a rarity. In fact, the last time that happened was March 12, 1988 at Dayton's UD Arena < Muffet McGraw's Irish women downed the Flyers, 77-64 (closing out her first season under the Golden Dome), before Digger Phelps' Notre Dame men won by a 72-59 count in their final regular-season game before the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame is peppered throughout the latest NCAA statistical rankings (as of Jan. 14). The Irish among the top 20 in the nation in six categories, led by No. 6 rankings for both fewest turnovers per game (13.9) and scoring margin (+20.7). Notre Dame also is seventh in scoring offense (78.4) and assist/turnover ratio (1.18), 16th in steals per game (12.3) and 17th in field goal percentage (.463).
A full recap of Notre Dame's positions on the NCAA statistics charts (and its relation to the national leaders) can be found on page 10 of this notes package. The newest NCAA rankings were to be released late Friday afternoon.
Half (7) of Notre Dame's 14 wins this season have come by at least 30 points, while the Irish have held 30-point leads late in the second half against Western Kentucky and Richmond. This marks the first time in school history that Notre Dame has fashioned seven 30-point wins in its first 17 games.
It's also the first time since the 2000-01 national championship season that the Irish have logged at least seven 30-point wins in a single season. That year, Notre Dame collected a school-record 10 30-point victories, but only six of those came in the first 17 games.
What's more, the Irish had a streak of four consecutive 30-point wins from Nov. 20-Dec. 2. The last time Notre Dame did that was Jan. 20-30, 1999, when the Irish had four straight 30-point victories, all during BIG EAST Conference play < at Seton Hall (87-47), home vs. St. John's (99-60), at Syracuse (94-61) and at Providence (97-59).
Put A Tiger In Your Tank
Less than two seasons after posting the program's lowest scoring output(64.5 ppg) since 1980-81 (its first as a Division I program), Notre Dame has reversed that trend in a big way.
The Irish currently rank third in the BIG EAST Conference in scoring (and seventh in the nation) at 77.9 points per game, having tallied at least 77 points in 11 of their 14 wins. What's more, Notre Dame also has the fifth-highest scoring average through 17 games in program history, and highest since the 2000-01 national championship team averaged 78.2 points at this juncture. The 1998-99 squad holds the single-season school scoring record (81.0).
What's more, Notre Dame has scored at least 90 points four times this season. That's the most 90-point games for the Irish in one year since 2000-01, when they also had four such outings. In fact, during the six seasons between then and now (2001-02 through 2006-07), Notre Dame had a combined total of four 90-point games.
Notre Dame also ranks second in the conference (and sixth in the nation) in scoring margin, outpointing its opposition by 20.2 points per night.
McGraw's Shock Troops
During his coaching tenure with the Notre Dame football team in the 1920s, Knute Rockne was at the forefront of the two-platoon system, using his "shock troops" < a full team of second stringers < at the start of most games.
While Irish women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw may not quite be following Rockne's philosophy to the letter, she could easily rotate in much of her second unit and not see much decline in productivity. In fact, Notre Dame's bench is averaging 31.1 points per game (compared to 46.6 ppg. by the starters) and has outscored all 17 opponent benches this season by an average of +17.5 points per night.
Leading the way for this year's Irish "shock troops" is freshman forward Devereaux Peters, who is averaging 8.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and a BIG EAST-best 2.24 blocks per game with a .532 field goal percentage (10th-best in the conference). Peters has come off the bench in 15 of 17 games this year, most recently dropping in a season-high 15 points and added a season-best seven steals Wednesday vs. Villanova.
Last year's Irish rookie class (aka the "BMW" trio of guards Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner and center Erica Williamson) became the first threesome from one school ever to be named to the BIG EAST Conference All-Freshman Team in the same season. Following on the heels of that success, Notre Dame has a new freshman trio that is aiming to make an early splash at the college level - the "BBD" lineup of guards Brittany Mallory and forwards Becca Bruszewski and Devereaux Peters.
All three Irish rookies have done their part to help Notre Dame to its 14-3 record, with each one averaging at least 12 minutes and having scored in double figures at least once. Peters is fourth on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg.) and has scored in double digits in nine of the past 12 games, while also leading the BIG EAST Conference in blocked shots (2.24 bpg.).
Mallory is averaging 6.5 points per game, shares the team lead with 17 three-pointers and is one of six Notre Dame players with at least 20 steals this season. Bruszewski is logging 4.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, with impressive outings in the two Irish matchups against top-five opponents, grabbing a season-high seven rebounds vs. No. 3 Maryland and third-ranked Tennessee.
Spreading The Wealth
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's squad this season is its balance and depth. That's been particularly evident through the first 19 games of the season (counting the exhibitions), with six different players from all five floor positions and all four classes leading the team in scoring.
Another example of Notre Dame's balance this season is seen in its point distribution. No fewer than 10 of the 11 Irish players on this year's roster have scored in double figures at least once this season, with only senior guard Amanda Tsipis yet to crack the 10-point mark.
Notre Dame also has had at least three double-figure scorers in all but three games (Purdue, No. 3 Tennessee, No. 16 West Virginia) this season. What's more, the Irish fielded five double-figure scorers in three consecutive games from Nov. 20-27. It's believed to be the first time in school history (and certainly the first time in the Muffet McGraw era) the Irish have pulled off that feat of three straight games with five double-digit scorers, although records are incomplete prior to the 1983-84 season.
Protecting The Pill
Notre Dame has gotten off to a strong start this season, thanks in large part to its ability to take care of the basketball. The Irish rank sixth in the nation with just 14.2 turnovers per game and had a 30-game streak of committing 18 turnovers or fewer until being charged with 20 turnovers Jan. 8 at Louisville.
The Irish took ball protection to a new level in their loss at No. 3 Maryland on Nov. 16. Notre Dame set a school record with only three turnovers against the Terrapins, with two of those giveaways coming on offensive fouls. The previous school record for fewest turnovers was six, set on Feb. 12, 2006 at DePaul.
With only three turnovers, it probably comes as no surprise that Maryland did not register a steal against Notre Dame. However, what is surprising is that it was the first time in the 31-year history of the Irish program that an opponent did not record a steal against Notre Dame. Several opponents had only one steal vs. the Irish, with the most recent being Boston College on March 19, 2006 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (played at West Lafayette, Ind.).
Piping Hot Turnovers
Notre Dame is forcing 23.2 turnovers per night and currently leads the BIG EAST with a +9.00 turnover margin, nearly four takeaways better than second-place DePaul. The Irish have caused at least 20 turnovers in 13 of 17 games this season, including a season-high 33 takeaways against Boston College on Nov. 24.
Notre Dame has made even the strongest ball-handling teams struggle this season. In fact, Villanova came into Wednesday's game at the Joyce Center leading the nation with only 11.2 turnovers per game. However, the Wildcats left town with 24 turnovers, their highest single-game giveaway mark in more than six years (Dec. 1, 2001 at Temple).
The Five-Finger Discount
Notre Dame leads the BIG EAST in steals, averaging 12.59 thefts per game, including seven games this season where the Irish have collected at least 15 steals. What's more, Notre Dame's season-high 21 steals vs. Boston College were the most for the Irish in a single game since Dec. 13, 1997 (22 vs. South Florida at the Joyce Center).
Individually, the Irish have six players with at least 20 steals this season (and another with 19). Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow leads the way with 36 steals, tying for 10th in the BIG EAST in that category (2.12 spg).
Freshman forward Devereaux Peters is next with 34 steals (2.0 spg.), and leads the way with 11 steals (3.67 spg) in conference play. Her seven thefts vs. Villanova on Wednesday were the most for an Irish player in a game since Jan. 30, 2005, when Megan Duffy had the last of her three seven-steal games that season in a 65-59 win at No. 9/10 Connecticut (a contest better known for breaking the Huskies' 112-game BIG EAST regular-season home winning streak).
Keeping It On The Plus Side
Notre Dame has registered a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in 10 games this season and ranks fourth in the BIG EAST (seventh nationally) with a 1.14 assist-to-turnover ratio. Notre Dame also has assisted on 53.6 percent of its field goals this year (275 assists on 513 baskets), ranking fifth in the conference and 27th in the country with 16.18 assists per game.
Off And Running
Notre Dame has wasted little time in jumping ahead of its opponents this season. In half (7) of their 14 wins, the Irish have opened up a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes into the game, while other first-half runs against Central Michigan (20-0), Bowling Green (18-3) and Villanova (16-6) aided those wins.
Even in its defeat at third-ranked Maryland on Nov. 16, Notre Dame made a statement early with a 10-0 run in the first five minutes of action and led by as many as five points in the first half before the Terrapins rallied back for the win.
Going Into Lockdown
Notre Dame has held 13 opponents this season to fewer than 60 points, ranking seventh in the BIG EAST in scoring defense at 57.7 points per game.
That's the fifth-lowest opponent scoring average through 17 games for Notre Dame, fourth-lowest since elevating to Division I in 1980-81, and third-lowest of the Muffet McGraw era. The only Irish squads in the past 26 seasons that have gotten off to a better defensive starts than this year's club were the 2000-01 national championship team (54.9 ppg.) and the 2004-05 team (57.6).
Allen Climbing Irish Points Ladder
Senior guard Charel Allen continues to make her way up Notre Dame's all-time scoring list, currently standing 13th with 1,296 points. Next up for Allen is Margaret Nowlin, who is in 12th place with 1,312 points from 2002-06.
What's more, Allen is 134 points away from moving into the top 10 on the Irish career scoring charts. The person currently holding down that 10th position? First-year assistant coach Niele Ivey, who had 1,430 points from 1996-2001.
Clutch When It Counts
Notre Dame is 36-of-47 (.766) from the free throw line in the final two minutes (plus overtime) this season. Leading the way is sophomore guard Ashley Barlow, who is 6-of-6 this year and 16-of-18 (.889) in her career when toeing the line down the stretch. Fellow sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner also has been solid from the stripe in crunch time during her career, going 12-of-15 (.800), including 3-of-4 this season.
Notre Dame is ranked 17th in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, dropping three spots from its season-high perch in the previous two surveys. The No. 14 ranking was the highest for the Irish in the media poll since the week of Jan. 2, 2006, when they were ranked 12th prior to losses at St. John's (66-63) and home vs. Seton Hall (74-61).
Notre Dame now has been ranked in the AP poll for 150 weeks during the program's history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era. McGraw currently ranks 14th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and also stands 25th all-time in that category.
The Irish also are in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll for the 10th consecutive week, placing 15th, down a spot from its season-high No. 14 ranking the previous two weeks. That was the highest poll position for Notre Dame in two years, when the Irish were tabbed 12th by the coaches prior to the aforementioned losses to St. John's and Seton Hall.
More Polling Data
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is one of 22 people in NCAA Division I women's basketball history who have both played for and coached a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll. Besides her 150 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 22 people on this elite list, 11 are currently head coaches at the NCAA Division I level.
Start Me Up
Notre Dame's 13-2 start matched the second-best 15-game mark in the program's 31-year history. In 2000-01, the Irish opened with 23 consecutive victories, en route to their first-ever No. 1 ranking and eventually, the program's first national championship.
The last time Notre Dame got off to a 13-2 start was the 2004-05 season, when the Irish won their first seven games (including the Preseason WNIT title) before a Dec. 2 overtime loss to 15th-ranked Michigan State. Notre Dame (which rose as high as third in the national polls that season) then reeled off six more wins before suffering consecutive loss at Villanova (59-54) and home vs. No. 16 Connecticut (67-50). However, the Irish rebounded with a 10-game win streak, finishing the year at 27-6 and advancing to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame posted a 13-2 record on three other occasions, also doing so in 1999-2000 (27-5, NCAA Sweet 16), 1998-99 (26-5, NCAA second round) and 1977-78 (13-4, program's first varsity season when playing at AIAW Division III level).
We're Going Streaking!
Notre Dame's 10-game win streak from Nov. 20-Jan. 2 was its longest since a similar 10-game run from Jan. 16-Feb. 15, 2005. The Irish now have amassed 10 double-digit win streaks in program history (eight in the Muffet McGraw era), led by the school-record 23-game success string to open the 2000-01 national championship season.
Notre Dame also won six consecutive road games earlier this season (Nov. 20-Jan. 2). That was the longest run for the Irish away from the Joyce Center since a 10-game run from Nov. 17, 2000 to Feb. 14, 2001, a streak that ended with a 54-53 loss at No. 11/14 Rutgers (one of only two defeats for the Irish on their run to the NCAA title).
No Easy Road
Notre Dame has always played a difficult schedule, using it as a means of preparation for future tests in both the BIG EAST Conference and the postseason. However, this year's slate could be one of the more rugged ones in recent memory.
With the addition of Maryland to the docket in the Preseason WNIT semifinals (75-59 loss on Nov. 16), the Irish now will face four of the top five teams in the latest Associated Press poll. Besides the Terrapins (currently No. 4), Notre Dame also has or will play No. 1 Connecticut (Jan. 27 at the Joyce Center), No. 2 Tennessee (lost 87-63 on Jan. 5 at the Joyce Center) and No. 5 Rutgers (Feb. 19 in Piscataway, N.J.). Three of the top four teams in the poll have combined to win five of the past six national championships, with Tennessee currently holding the hardware after defeating Rutgers in last year's title game.
Game #17 Recap: Villanova
Freshman forward Devereaux Peters finished with a season-high 15 points, seven steals and three blocked shots, and No. 17/15 Notre Dame forced Villanova into a season-high 24 turnovers en route to a 69-58 victory Wednesday night at the Joyce Center.
Peters entered the game at 15:47 of the first half, grabbed her first steal 20 seconds later and scored her first basket just 29 seconds after that.
The Irish (14-3, 2-1 BIG EAST) went ahead 43-34 when Peters caught a pass inside from senior guard Tulyah Gaines and banked it in with 15:52 left. The Wildcats (11-6, 1-3) twice cut the lead to five points and had chances both times to cut it to three, but couldn't do it.
The Irish extended the lead to 62-52 when sophomore guard Ashley Barlow, who led the Irish with 16 points, converted on a three-point play with 4:20 left, and went ahead 68-55 when Peters made a pair of free throws with 67 seconds left.
Senior guard Charel Allen added 13 points for the Irish and junior guard Lindsay Schrader finished with 12 and a game-high eight rebounds. The Irish shot 54 percent for the game and were 17-of-18 from the free throw line.
Laura Kurz, sister of Notre Dame men's basketball captain Rob Kurz, led the Wildcats with 20 points. Stacie Witman had 14 points for Villanova, Lisa Karcic had 11 and Siobhan O'Connor added 10. The Wildcats hit five three-pointers in a row in the first half to keep the game close.
Noting The Villanova Game
Irish Picked Fifth In BIG EAST Poll
Notre Dame was projected to finish fifth in the BIG EAST Conference this season, according to a preseason vote of the league's 16 head coaches that was announced Oct. 25 during BIG EAST Women's Basketball Media Day at the ESPNZone in New York City. The Irish collected 165 points, with Connecticut (15 first-place votes, 225 points), Rutgers (one first-place vote, 211 points), West Virginia (186 points) and Pittsburgh (169 points) joining Notre Dame in the top five.
Senior guard Charel Allen was one of 11 players selected to this year's Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Allen averaged a team-high 17.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season and ranked second in the BIG EAST with 19.3 points per game in league play. She went on to earn first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America laurels. while helping the Irish go 20-12 and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Half And Half
During the past eight seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 136-12 (.919) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 64 of their last 70 such contests. Notre Dame has opened this season with 12 victories in as many games after taking the lead to the locker room.
The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
During the past 13 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame's first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have a 180-11 (.942) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game.
Notre Dame is 12-1 this year when holding opponents below 60 points, with No. 16 West Virginia the lone exception (56-50 on Jan. 13).
...But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 13 seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 109-3 (.973) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998.
Notre Dame has won all nine games this season when it reaches the 80-point mark.
Now That's A Home Court Advantage
One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 157 of their last 176 games (.892) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has an 88-13 (.871) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the '02 home finale.
The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 71 of their last 77 non-BIG EAST contests (.922) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Four of the losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents - Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73, ot) and Indiana in 2006 (54-51) - with the other two defeats coming to Tennessee (62-51 in 2005; 87-63 in 2008). 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 Joyce Center, posting a 307-80 (.793) 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. For the third time in four years, and the second consecutive season, Notre Dame will equal the most regular-season home games (16) in school history.
However, in 2004-05, the Irish played host to all four rounds of the Preseason WNIT before its regular 12-game home slate began. Notre Dame also played two Preseason WNIT games at home this season, in addition to its previously-scheduled 14-game Joyce Center docket.
Notre Dame On The Small Screen
Notre Dame will have a school-record 22 regular-season games televised during the upcoming 2007-08 season. Highlighting this year's television schedule are nine nationally-televised Irish women's basketball contests, including one appearance on CBS (Jan. 5 vs. Tennessee), four games on the ESPN family of networks, and another four contests on CSTV.
In addition, Notre Dame has expanded its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Irish home games (11 regular-season, two exhibition) that have not been selected for commercial TV coverage will be televised live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com.
This year's TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Since the start of its 2000-01 NCAA championship season (and including this year's broadcasts to date), Notre Dame now has played in 104 televised games, including 56 that were broadcast nationally.
Oh Captain, My Captain
Senior guards Charel Allen, Tulyah Gaines and Amanda Tsipis are team captains for the 2007-08 season. Gaines is in her second year as a captain for the Irish, while Allen and Tsipis are first-time captains. All three players received the captain's honor through a vote of their teammates prior to the season.
Joyce Center Arena Renovation On Tap
On Oct. 3, 2007, Notre Dame announced that construction on the Joyce Center arena addition and renovation will begin in September 2008. The University has selected the architects for the project, and they currently are in the process of completing final design plans.
The first phase of the project, to begin next September, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena. That structure will include a new two-story lobby, 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 Joyce Center arena seating, including installation of chair-back seating throughout the arena, is expected to take place after the University's Commencement Exercises in May 2009. The project is scheduled for completion in January 2010. The arena is expected to re-open by mid-October 2009, in time for the start of the men's and women's basketball seasons and the end of the women's volleyball season.
The University announced last October that this $26.3 million project had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III. A month later, another major gift of $5 million from Notre Dame graduate Vincent J. Naimoli was announced.
The arena will be named Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center < and the new club/hospitality area and two outdoor patios will be named for the Naimoli family.
Irish Fans Crave A Big Mac Attack
Notre Dame has introduced a new promotion this season, offering fans a coupon for a free Big Mac from South Bend-area McDonald's restaurants if the Irish score at least 88 points in a game. The coupons are issued at the Joyce Center gates as fans leave the arena following the game.
This season's burger watch already is at six, as the Irish have hit the 88-point mark in exhibition wins over Southern Indiana and Hillsdale, as well as regular-season victories over Miami (Ohio), Boston College, Canisius and Valparaiso.
It's probably also not a surprise that the Notre Dame player with the most "Big Mac baskets" this season has the same initials as that of the tasty burger < freshman guard Brittany Mallory, who has sent the crowd home happy (and presumably with full bellies) four times, including each of the past three games that the Irish have scored 88 points at home.
A Friend In Need
Prior to Wednesday's game vs. Villanova, a moment of prayer was held at the Joyce Center in support of longtime Irish women's basketball fan and Notre Dame Office of Information Technologies employee Patricia McAdams. Patricia was severely injured on Jan. 13 when she stopped on a highway outside Fort Wayne, Ind., to help a fellow motorist and was then struck by a car.
Patricia, who had been returning from Notre Dame's game at West Virginia earlier that day, remains in critical but stable condition. A loyal supporter of the Irish for many years, Patricia has assisted Notre Dame's coordinator of basketball operations Stephanie Menio with numerous marketing and promotional activities, and also coordinated regular bus trips for fans to see the Irish on the road.
Supporters desiring to send get-well cards to Patricia are asked to mail them to: Patricia McAdams, Parkview Hospital STICU, Room 1110, 2200 Randallia Dr., Fort Wayne, IN 46805.
Donations (including flowers) on behalf of Patricia and her family may be made to: Ashley Fire Department, c/o Chief Micah Liby, P.O. Box 349, Ashley, IN 46705. Patricia and her family are grateful for the quick response by the emergency medical technicians from the Ashley Fire Department, who were the first on the scene after the accident.
Here's a rundown of some upcoming promotions and giveaways at future Notre Dame women's basketball games this season. Tickets may be purchased in advance at the Irish athletics ticket office (second floor of the Joyce Center through Gate 1; 574-631-7356), on game day at the Gate 10 ticket windows of the Joyce Center, or via the Internet at Notre Dame's official athletics web site (UND.com). Please note < additional promotions and giveaways may be added at a later date, so consult the Notre Dame promotions web site (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:
Next Game: DePaul
The Irish open a three-game homestand Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ET) when they welcome No. 23/22 DePaul to the Joyce Center for the first of two matchups between the teams this season. The game will be televised live to a national cable audience on CSTV, the second of four appearance for Notre Dame on that network this season.
The Blue Demons (13-3, 2-1) reeled off 10 consecutive wins to open the season, then stumbled briefly with three losses in four games, before righting themselves with back-to-back wins in the past week. DePaul will visit Marquette Saturday afternoon (playing opposite Notre Dame and Georgetown on the BIG EAST-Regional Sports Networks Game of the Week package) before coming to South Bend.