Jan. 21, 2008
Game Notes Package in PDF Format
2007-08 ND Women's Basketball: Game 19
#16/15 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (15-3 / 3-1 BIG EAST) vs. #rv/22 DePaul Blue Demons (13-4 / 2-2 BIG EAST)
DATE: January 22, 2008
TIME: 8:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Joyce Center (11,418)
SERIES: DPU leads 17-11
1ST MTG: 1/30/79 (DPU 82-53)
LAST MTG: 3/3/07 (DPU 76-71)
RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM (Sean Stires, p-b-p)
TV: CSTV (live) (Ann Schatz, p-b-p / Debbie Antonelli, color)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356
StorylinesNotre Dame and DePaul will meet for the 29th time on Tuesday night, with the home team having won the past eight regular-season matchups in the series.
Notre Dame is shooting .581 from the field in its last two games, including a season-best .610 last Saturday at Georgetown.
No. 16/15 Irish Back Home To Face DePaul Tuesday Night
While one could argue that every team in the BIG EAST Conference is a familiar one, there's no squad that is more recognizable to Notre Dame than DePaul. For the fourth time in the past 11 months, the No. 16/15 Irish will tangle with the Blue Demons Tuesday in an 8 p.m. (ET) contest at the Joyce Center that will be televised live to a national cable audience on CSTV.
Notre Dame (15-3, 3-1 BIG EAST) is coming off one of its most complete offensive performances in many years, rolling to a 104-86 win at Georgetown last Saturday. The Irish reached triple digits on the road for the first time in school history and had seven players score in double figures for the first time in nearly 11 years.
Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow tossed in a team-high 21 points, while freshman guard Brittany Mallory chipped in a season-best 15 points for Notre Dame.
RankingsNotre Dame is ranked 16th in this week's Associated Press poll and was 15th in last week's ESPN/USA Today poll. The new coaches' poll will be released Tuesday.
DePaul is receiving votes in this week's Associated Press poll and was 22nd in last week's ESPN/USA Today poll.
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.
A Quick Look At DePaul
With 10 letterwinners, including four starters back from last year's NCAA Tournament team, DePaul has the pieces to make a significant impact on not only the BIG EAST Conference, but also the national scene.
The Blue Demons (13-4, 2-2) got off to a roaring start with 10 consecutive victories, rising as high as 12th in the Associated Press poll and 13th in the ESPN/USA Today coaches' survey. However, since Christmas, DePaul has struggled to regain its early-season success, dropping four of its last seven games, although two of those losses came to Top 25 opponents (No. 19 Texas and No. 3 Tennessee).
Most recently, the Blue Demons fell at Marquette, 65-56 on Saturday. Senior guard Allie Quigley had a team-high 16 points and junior forward Natasha Williams (a transfer from Minnesota) added 12 points and a game-high nine rebounds for DePaul.
For the season, Quigley ranks fourth in the BIG EAST in scoring (18.5 ppg) and steals (2.35 spg), as well as 10th in assists (3.88 apg). Sophomore guard Deirdre Naughton (a Wake Forest transfer) is 13th in the conference in scoring (14.7 ppg) and leads the league with a 2.36 assist/turnover ratio. Williams is 28th in the conference in scoring (12.1 ppg), but sets the pace with a gaudy .622 field goal percentage and is 13th in rebounding (7.5 rpg).
Doug Bruno is in his 22nd season as head coach at his alma mater, sporting a 407-234 (.635) record. He is 10-5 all-time against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-DePaul Series
Notre Dame and DePaul will meet for the 29th time in a series that dates back 30 seasons and is the second-longest in Irish history (Marquette - 32 games). The Blue Demons hold a 17-11 series lead on Notre Dame, although the Irish are up 7-5 when the scene shifts to the Joyce Center. DePaul has won the past two games in a series, most recently taking a 76-71 decision in the first round of last year's BIG EAST Conference Championship in Hartford, Conn.
The series has been largely dominated by the home team of late, with the hosts winning the past nine regular-season meetings. DePaul owns the last road win in the rivalry, a 62-49 victory on Feb. 11, 1992 at the Joyce Center.
The Blue Demons also have won three of the five matchups since they joined the BIG EAST in 2005-06. This year marks the third in a row that Notre Dame and DePaul have been paired as "repeat opponents" in the conference's 16-game scheduling format.
The Last Time Notre Dame And DePaul Met
Notre Dame rallied from an 11-point second-half deficit to tie its BIG EAST Championship first-round game with DePaul, but the Irish couldn't quite finish off matters, as the Blue Demons prevailed, 76-71 on March 3, 2007, at the Hartford Civic Center. Breona Gray got a good look at a game-tying three-pointer from the right corner with nine seconds to play, but her attempt rattled out and DePaul iced the game with two foul shots.
Charel Allen tallied 18 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead Notre Dame. Gray added 17 points (7-of-13 from the field), but the difference came at the foul line, where the Blue Demons were nearly flawless, making 22-of-23 free throws (95.7 percent).
The Irish and DePaul played to a virtual stalemate in the first half, with five ties and four lead changes in the period, with Notre Dame jumping out to a five-point lead on two occasions and the Blue Demons opening up a six-point edge. The Irish went on top, 36-34 at halftime on Crystal Erwin's layup with 33 seconds left in the period.
Notre Dame kept its momentum going with eight of the first 12 points in the second half, taking a 44-38 lead on two Allen free throws with three minutes gone. DePaul then went on a 19-2 run and held the Irish without a field goal for nearly seven minutes, with China Threatt scoring seven points in the run.
Allen ended the Notre Dame offensive drought with a long jumper 18 seconds later, but the Irish wound up trading baskets for the next four minutes and still faced a 66-56 deficit when Caprice Smith hit a jumper with 6:09 left. That's when Notre Dame ripped off 10 unanswered points in 2:25, with Ashley Barlow accounting for seven points in the surge. Allen capped the rally by making the first of two free throws that tied the game at 66-66 with 3:44 remaining. Yet, she missed the second foul shots, and Jenna Rubino put DePaul back on top to stay with a baseline floater with the shot clock about to expire and 2:46 left. Allie Quigley then took over for the Blue Demons by scoring her team's final eight points on a jumper in the lane and six free throws (part of a 16-for-16 second-half effort by DePaul).
Notre Dame got back within a point twice more, and was within one possession inside the final 10 seconds, but Gray's game-tying three-point attempt was off the mark, knocking the Irish out of the conference tournament.
The Last Time Notre Dame And DePaul Met At The Joyce Center
Charel Allen poured in a game-high 25 points and snared a career-high 13 rebounds, leading Notre Dame to a 78-70 BIG EAST Conference win over DePaul on Feb. 11, 2007, at the Joyce Center.
Allen, who registered her third career double-double, chalked up five key points during a 14-5 second-half run as Notre Dame turned back a determined Blue Demon squad down the stretch. Ashley Barlow and Melissa Lechlitner scored 13 points apiece, while Tulyah Gaines added 12 points and a team-high five assists for the Irish.
Behind Allie Quigley's 11 consecutive points to start the game, DePaul moved out to a six-point lead four times in the first half, the last coming at 19-13 on Quigley's layup with 7:45 remaining. Notre Dame came out of the gate slowly, missing on 10 of its first 12 shots from the floor, but the Irish used a 9-0 run midway through the period to take a 32-26 halftime lead.
DePaul halved the deficit on its first possession of the second half, as Missy Mitidiero knocked down her lone three-pointer of the game. However, the Irish answered with an 11-2 run during the next two and a half minutes, capped by Allen's layup off a pretty Gaines assist at the 16:25 juncture. The Blue Demons came back with a run of their own, using a 10-2 spurt to get as close as 47-43 when Threatt hit a jumper in the lane with 10:13 to play.
That's when Allen came through with her biggest plays of the night, converting an old-fashioned three-point play and adding a long jumper in a span of 21 seconds to help Notre Dame rebuild a nine-point lead and DePaul would never get closer than five points the rest of the way.
Other Notre Dame-DePaul Series TidbitsWith Tuesday's 29th series matchup, Notre Dame will have played only one other school more often than DePaul in its 31-year history -- Marquette (32).
DePaul's 17 series wins are third-most by one opponent in Notre Dame history, trailing only Connecticut (20) and Tennessee (19).
The Irish and Blue Demons have previously faced off as members of the North Star Conference from 1983-88, with the two sides splitting their 10 NSC games.
Neither team has won three consecutive games in the series since Jan. 27, 1990, when DePaul won the last of five in a row over the Irish, 71-64 at the Joyce Center.
In each of the past nine series games, the winning team has scored at least 75 points. DePaul kept that trend going with a 76-71 win in the first round of last year's BIG EAST Conference Championship in Hartford, Conn.
Both head coaches have ties to the old Women's Professional Basketball League (WBL). Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw was a point guard for the California Dreams in 1979, while DePaul's Doug Bruno was the head coach and director of player personnel for the Chicago Hustle from 1978-80.
Notre Dame sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner was a member of the 2007 USA U19 World Championship Team, coached by DePaul's Doug Bruno, that went a perfect 9-0 and captured the gold medal in Bratislava, Slovakia, this past summer. Lechlitner averaged 4.6 points and 1.4 assists during the FIBA U19 World Championships.
Notre Dame junior guard Lindsay Schrader (Bartlett/Bartlett HS) and freshman forward Devereaux Peters (Chicago/Fenwick HS) are two of the 11 Illinois natives to play for the Irish, with 10 coming from the Chicagoland area. Some of the other Notre Dame products from the Windy City include NCAA career three-point percentage leader Alicia Ratay (Lake Zurich/Lake Zurich HS), and 1,000-point scorer and 2004 Purple Heart recipient Danielle Green (Chicago/Roosevelt HS).
Schrader was the 2005 Illinois Miss Basketball, having claimed that honor by the sixth-largest margin (374 points) since the award was created in 1986.
Barlow Named To BIG EAST Honor Roll
For the second time this season, sophomore guard Ashley Barlow was named to the BIG EAST Conference Women's Basketball Weekly Honor Roll, the league office announced Monday. It's also the third time this season a Notre Dame women's basketball player has been tapped for the honor, with Barlow previously being chosen on Dec. 17, and senior guard Charel Allen earning the distinction on Jan. 7.
Last week, Barlow averaged 18.5 points per game and shot a blistering .706 from the field (12-of-17), including a .500 three-point percentage (4-of-8), and also was a perfect 9-of-9 at the free throw line, as Notre Dame picked up BIG EAST wins over Villanova and Georgetown. In the midweek 69-58 victory over VU, Barlow scored a team-high 16 points (5-8 FG, 5-5 FT) and added four steals. She followed that up in Saturday's 104-86 triumph at Georgetown with a team-best 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting and matched her career high with three three-pointers (on five attempts).
For the season, Barlow ranks second on the team (and 26th in the BIG EAST) in scoring at 12.6 points per game, while also standing among the league leaders in free throw percentage (tied-3rd - .867), steals (tied-12th - 2.0 spg.) and three-point percentage (tied-15th - .385).
Notre Dame is peppered throughout the latest NCAA statistical rankings (as of Jan. 18). The Irish among the top 20 in the nation in six categories, led by a No. 6 ranking for scoring margin (currently +20.1). Notre Dame also is ninth in scoring offense (79.4), steals per game (12.3) and assist/turnover ratio (1.13), and 12th in fewest turnovers (14.4) and field goal percentage (.473).
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 11 of this notes package. The newest NCAA rankings will be released Tuesday afternoon.
Nearly half (7) of Notre Dame's 15 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 18 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 18 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 ninth in the nation as of Jan. 18) at 79.4 points per game, having tallied at least 77 points in 12 of their 15 wins. What's more, Notre Dame also has the fourth-highest scoring average through 18 games in program history, and highest since the 1998-99 squad averaged 84.5 points at this juncture on the way to the single-season school scoring record (81.0).
What's more, Notre Dame has scored at least 90 points five times this season. That's the most 90-point games for the Irish in one year since 1998-99, when they tied the school record with seven 90-point games. In fact, during the six seasons prior to the current one (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 as of Jan. 18) in scoring margin, outpointing its opposition by 20.1 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 31.9 points per game (compared to 47.5 ppg. by the starters) and has outscored all 18 opponent benches this season by an average of +17.0 points per night.
Leading the way for this year's Irish "shock troops" is freshman forward Devereaux Peters, who is averaging 8.6 points, 5.3 rebounds and a BIG EAST-best 2.11 blocks per game with a .521 field goal percentage (10th-best in the conference). Peters has come off the bench in 16 of 18 games this year, dropping in a season-high 15 points and added a season-best seven steals on Jan. 16 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 15-3 record, with each one averaging at least 11 minutes and having scored in double figures at least three times. Peters is fourth on the team in scoring (8.6 ppg.) and has scored in double digits in nine of the past 13 games, while also leading the BIG EAST Conference in blocked shots (2.11 bpg.). Mallory is averaging 7.0 points per game, is second on the team with 19 three-pointers and most recently chalked up a season-high 15 points last Saturday at Georgetown. Bruszewski is logging 4.5 points and 2.4 rebounds per game, collecting her third double-digit scoring game of the year with 10 points at Georgetown.
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 20 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 year, with a season-high seven in double digits at Georgetown (the most in one game for the Irish since Feb. 6, 1997 vs. Syracuse).
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 12th in the nation (as of Jan. 18) with just 14.4 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 23.0 turnovers per night and currently leads the BIG EAST with a +8.56 turnover margin, more than three takeaways better than second-place Connecticut. The Irish have caused at least 20 turnovers in 14 of 18 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 its Jan. 16 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 ranks second in BIG EAST in steals, averaging 12.28 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 seven players with at least 20 steals this season. Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow leads the way with 36 steals, tying for 12th in the BIG EAST in that category (2.0 spg). Freshman forward Devereaux Peters is next with 34 steals (1.89 spg.), and her seven thefts vs. Villanova on Jan. 16 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 11 games this season and ranks fourth in the BIG EAST (ninth nationally as of Jan. 18) with a 1.13 assist-to-turnover ratio. Notre Dame also has assisted on 53.7 percent of its field goals this year (295 assists on 549 baskets), ranking fourth in the conference and 29th in the country with 16.39 assists per game.
Off And Running
Notre Dame has wasted little time in jumping ahead of its opponents this season. In nearly half (7) of their 15 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), Villanova (16-6) and Georgetown (15-3) 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.
Clutch When It Counts
Notre Dame is 41-of-53 (.774) from the free throw line in the final two minutes (plus overtime) this season. Leading the way is sophomore guard Ashley Barlow, who is 8-of-8 this year and 18-of-20 (.900) in her career when toeing the line down the stretch.
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 1,310 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 120 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.
Notre Dame is ranked 16th in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, rising one spot from last week's survey. The season-high No. 14 rankings on Dec. 31-Jan. 7 were 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 151 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 were in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll for the 10th consecutive week, placing 15th in the Jan. 15 balloting. Notre Dame's No. 14 rankings on Jan. 2-8 were 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 151 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 NCAA Division I head coaches.
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 (Saturday 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.
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 the Jan. 16 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 at Parkview Hospital in Fort Wayne.
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 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.
Promotional CornerJan. 22 vs. DePaul -- Dance, Dance, Dance ... Midweek Mania (buy one ticket, get one free) ... Irish women's basketball pizza cutters to first 1,000 fans, courtesy of Crocs ... post-game autograph session courtside with selected Notre Dame players.
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: Connecticut
Notre Dame will face its third top-five opponent of the season Sunday when No. 1 Connecticut comes to the Joyce Center for a 7 p.m. (ET) game that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. This weekend's game will mark the first time both teams have been ranked for a regular-season meeting since Jan. 30, 2005, when the No. 6/7 Irish downed the No. 9/10 Huskies, 65-59 at Gampel Pavilion, ending UConn's 112-game BIG EAST regular-season home win streak.
Connecticut (17-0, 5-0) has been the nation's top-ranked team the past five weeks and was the lone remaining unbeaten team in the land, heading into its non-conference matchup with No. 3 North Carolina on Monday night.
-- ND --