Jan. 27, 2016
by Chris Masters
Notre Dame Game Notes
2015-16 ND Women's Basketball: Game 21
#3/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (19-1 / 7-0 ACC) vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (12-8 / 2-5 ACC)
DATE: Jan. 28, 2016
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Atlanta, Ga. - McCamish Pavilion (8,600)
SERIES: ND leads 5-0
STREAK: ND - won 5
1ST MTG: ND 76-69 (11/30/96)
LAST MTG: ND 85-76 (12/30/15)
TV: ACC-Regional Sports Networks/ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Jenn Hildreth, p-b-p / Debbie Antonelli, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
StorylinesNotre Dame is seeking its 20th victory of the season, a mark the Fighting Irish have reached in 21 of the past 22 years.
Regardless of Thursday’s result, Notre Dame will reach the midpoint of its conference schedule with 0-1 losses for the seventh consecutive season.
No. 3 Fighting Irish Off To Georgia Tech Thursday
As No. 3 Notre Dame arrives at the halfway mark on this year’s ACC schedule, the Fighting Irish will meet the same opponent they faced in their conference opener when Notre Dame takes on Georgia Tech in the second of a home-and-home series at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta. The game will be televised live on the ACC-Regional Sports Networks package, as well as ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app, while radio coverage will be available on South Bend’s Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and worldwide online via the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
Notre Dame (19-1, 7-0) stretched its winning streak to a season-long 12 games with an 80-41 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion. The Fighting Irish held the Hokies to 11 first-half points en route to their largest conference win of the season.
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner paced a balanced Notre Dame offense with 18 points.
RankingsNotre Dame is No. 3 in this week’s Associated Press poll and is No. 3 in this week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
Georgia Tech is not ranked.
Quick HittersNotre Dame is off to a 19-1 start or better for the fourth time in five years and sixth time in program history (also 2000-01, 2009-10, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14).
The Fighting Irish are 5-1 against ranked opponents this season, and also registered a win over UCLA on Nov. 28 in the Bahamas, two days before the Bruins entered the Associated Press poll (UCLA is 15th in this week’s AP poll and 19th in the current WBCA/USA Today coaches’ poll).
Despite losing two starters from the lineup that opened last April’s NCAA championship game in Tampa (and missing a third - sophomore forward Brianna Turner - with an injury for six games), Notre Dame has scarcely missed a beat this season, led in large measure by two first-time starters in graduate student guard Madison Cable (scoring up from 6.2 to 13.8 ppg.) and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld (6.7 to 9.3 ppg.), as well as the reliable production off the bench from freshman guards Marina Mabrey (12.6 ppg.) and Arike Ogunbowale (11.7 ppg.).
The Fighting Irish feature a very balanced attack with four players currently posting double-figure scoring averages (and two others at 8.8 ppg. or better). Of those six, two are freshmen (Marina Mabrey and Ogunbowale), and two are sophomores (Turner and Westbeld).
Notre Dame’s bench play has been sharp this season, with the Fighting Irish reserves averaging 31.8 points per game, compared to 13.6 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
Notre Dame ranks among the top 15 in six NCAA statistical categories (as of Tuesday), including five top-10 rankings — three-point field-goal percentage (1st - .442), field-goal percentage (2nd - .500), scoring offense (6th - 82.3 ppg.), scoring margin (7th - +20.4 ppg.) and assists (7th - 18.9 apg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 14th in assist/turnover ratio (1.25), while standing third in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.950).
Including this week’s No. 3 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 167 consecutive weeks (the past 97 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking fifth in the nation among active AP poll appearances.
Notre Dame has been ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll for 109 of 120 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (120).
Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (65 of 71 weeks) spent in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
Notre Dame also is ranked No. 3 in this week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, making its 134th consecutive appearance in that survey. It’s also the eighth consecutive season and 14 of the past 18 years the Fighting Irish have appeared in the top 10 of the coaches’ poll.
Notre Dame has a remarkable tradition of success at home inside Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 429-91 (.825) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 106-6 (.946) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 82 of their last 86 games against conference opponents (and 30 in a row at home), dating back to their membership in the BIG EAST.
Since joining the ACC prior to the 2013-14 season, Notre Dame is 45-1 against conference foes (38-1 regular season, 7-0 postseason). The last ACC school to lose only once in regular-season conference play during a two-year span was Duke in 2003 and 2004.
Guards Madison Cable, Hannah Huffman and Michaela Mabrey have helped Notre Dame to a 127-7 (.948) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year’s senior class of Whitney Holloway and Markisha Wright as the most successful in Fighting Irish history. Holloway and Wright helped Notre Dame to a 143-10 (.935) record in their four-year careers, with those 143 wins tying for the second-most victories by any four-year class in NCAA Division I history (the Connecticut class of 2011 amassed 150 wins, while the Louisiana Tech class of 1982 also had 143 victories).
Since they first suited up at Notre Dame in 2012-13, Cable, Huffman and Mabrey have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women’s Final Fours (plus three conference regular season titles and three league tournament crowns), as well as a 44-6 (.880) record against ranked teams (24-6 against top-10 opponents).
With 718 victories in her 29 seasons at Notre Dame, head coach Muffet McGraw ranks second on the Fighting Irish athletics all-time coaching wins list (across all sports), trailing only men’s/women’s fencing coach Michael DeCicco (774-80 from 1962-95).
With 806 career wins, McGraw ranks 10th in NCAA Division I coaching history (seventh among active coaches). She also is one of two ACC coaches in the top 10 all-time, along with current North Carolina head coach Sylvia Hatchell (second all-time/first among active with 973 as of Tuesday).
The Notre Dame-Georgia Tech Series
Notre Dame and Georgia Tech will play for the sixth time in their series history (and second time this season) when they take the floor Thursday night in Atlanta. The Fighting Irish are 5-0 all-time against the Yellow Jackets, including a 2-0 record on the road.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Georgia Tech Met
Brianna Turner scored 20 points and No. 3 Notre Dame beat Georgia Tech 85-76 on Dec. 30, 2015, at Purcell Pavilion for Fighting Irish coach Muffet McGraw’s 799th victory.
Madison Cable scored 13 of her 19 points in the second half and the Fighting Irish held off a late comeback by the Yellow Jackets in the ACC opener for both teams.
Ciani Cryor led Georgia Tech with 19 points, and Aaliyah Whiteside and Roddreka Rogers added 17.
With Notre Dame up by 10, Michaela Mabrey hit a pair of 3-pointers to open the second half, and Cable made a trey a minute later. Cable’s shot was part of a 12-2 Fighting Irish burst that pushed their lead to 22 just over five minutes into the second half.
The Yellow Jackets got consecutive 3-pointers from Cryor and Whiteside, part of a 10-2 spurt to start the fourth quarter that cut the Notre Dame’s lead to 11.
Cable responded with a corner 3-pointer in front of the Fighting Irish bench, but Cryor followed with three straight layups to trimmed the margin to eight points with 3:44 to play.
Again, Cable knocked down a triple in front of the Irish bench, Lindsay Allen’s leaner at the shot clock buzzer with 2:22 left got the lead back to double digits and Georgia Tech would not get any closer than the final spread.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Georgia Tech Met in Atlanta
Notre Dame leaned on its star to extend its winning streak and protect its hold on first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Jewell Loyd scored a game-high 31 points, including 23 in the second half, and No. 4 Notre Dame survived a scare to beat Georgia Tech 71-61 for its 11th straight win on Feb. 19, 2015, at McCamish Pavilion in Atlanta.
The Fighting Irish trailed 34-33 at halftime after a late three-pointer by the Yellow Jackets’ Katarina Vuckovic. However, Loyd shot 6-of-13 from the field and 10-of-11 from the line while playing the entire second half.
The final margin was the only double-digit lead of the game. The score was tied at 51 with 11 minutes remaining and Notre Dame led only 58-56 before a basket by Lindsay Allen and a three-pointer from Loyd stretched the advantage to seven.
The game featured two of the ACC’s top three scorers. Loyd led the conference with 20.7 points per game, coming into the contest. Zaire O’Neil led Georgia Tech with 20 points, while Kaela Davis, third in the ACC with 20.2 points per game, added 19 points.
Loyd was Notre Dame’s only scorer in double figures. Madison Cable had nine points and a game-high 11 rebounds, and Brianna Turner and Taya Reimer each had eight points, with Turner grabbing 10 rebounds.
Other Notre Dame-Georgia Tech Series TidbitsAlthough Notre Dame has won all five games in its series with Georgia Tech, each contest has been decided by 15 points or fewer, including two by single digits and a third by 10 points.
We could see plenty of points on Thursday, with at least one team having scored at least 70 points in all five series games and both teams doing so in three of the five contests to date.
The Fighting Irish are 9-2 (.818) all-time against Georgia schools (and have won their last nine), including a 3-1 record on the road (plus a win in their only neutral-site game against a team from Georgia).
Notre Dame junior forward and Buford, Georgia, native Kristina Nelson is the third Peach State resident to suit up for the Fighting Irish and the second in recent seasons, following in the footsteps of Atlanta native Fraderica Miller (2008-12).
Doing Some NetworkingThursday’s game is the second of three appearances for Notre Dame on the ACC-Regional Sports Networks (RSN) television package this season. The Fighting Irish, who are 8-0 on the conference’s syndicated TV package since joining the ACC in 2013-14, already earned a wins at Pittsburgh (65-55 on Jan. 3) and will play host to Miami (Feb. 14) on the ACC-RSN airwaves during the 2015-16 season.
Fans wishing to tune in and watch Thursday’s ACC-RSN broadcast of the Notre Dame-Georgia Tech game are asked to CLICK HERE for the latest rundown of affiliates that will carry the game (including Comcast Channel 101 in South Bend). In addition, ESPN3 and the WatchESPN app will stream the game live (subject to blackout in certain areas).
Notre Dame is Fighting For FlintThe Notre Dame women’s basketball program has tipped off a grassroots effort entitled “Fighting For Flint” to help the citizens of Flint, Michigan, and Genessee County, who currently are enduring a water shortage crisis due to contamination in the water supply.
Prior to their teams’ Jan. 24 game at Purcell Pavilion, Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw and Notre Dame senior associate athletics director Jill Bodensteiner presented Virginia Tech head coach Dennis Wolff with a $2,000 donation for the Flint Water Project, an effort spearheaded by a volunteer group of Virginia Tech engineering faculty and students, who are teaming up to help find a solution to the Flint water crisis.
Notre Dame fans also participated in “Fighting For Flint,” either by making their own monetary donations at the Jan. 24 game against Virginia Tech (more than $4,000 was raised) or by bringing donations of money or bottled water to the Notre Dame women’s basketball office (Gate 1 of Purcell Pavilion) this week. All fan donations (financial and water) will be directed to Catholic Charities of Shiawasee and Genessee Counties, which will help distribute these donations to the citizens of Flint and the surrounding area.
Turner of FortuneSophomore forward Brianna Turner has had a significant effect on Notre Dame’s fortunes throughout her young career, and entered this year as the ACC Preseason Player of the Year. Thus, when she was sidelined for six games earlier this season with a shoulder injury, the Fighting Irish saw a noticeable change in their productivity, mainly at the defensive end of the court without their 6-foot-3 rim protector.
Through 14 games with Turner in the lineup, Notre Dame has allowed just 55.5 points per game, while holding opponents to a .344 field-goal percentage and .294 three-point percentage, while posting a +5.4 rebounding margin. In fact, just one opponent has scored more than 70 points against the Fighting Irish with Turner in uniform this season (Georgia Tech in an 85-76 Notre Dame win on Dec. 30), and nine of those 14 foes did not top 60 points.
Conversely, when Turner was out from Nov. 27-Dec. 12, the Fighting Irish allowed 76.8 points per game, while opponents shot .458 from the field, .339 from the three-point line and Notre Dame’s rebounding margin was trimmed to +4.5 rpg.
Allen Is The Iron WomanNotre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw has often noted that she seeks the kind of point guard to whom she can roll the ball out as a freshman and then take it back when that player graduates four years later. As it turns out, junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen is following that notion to the letter.
Allen has started all 97 games of her Fighting Irish career, matching the longest streak of consecutive games started in Notre Dame history. Only Jacqueline Batteast (97 from 2002-05) has a similar string of consecutive starts to Allen.
When Allen took the reins for Notre Dame’s 2013-14 season opener against UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9, 2013 (a 99-50 win at Purcell Pavilion), she became the first true freshman to start at point guard for Notre Dame in a season opener since Nov. 26, 1994, when Mollie Peirick led the Fighting Irish offense in a 65-60 overtime loss at 25th-ranked Seton Hall.
Allen’s current run of consecutive starts is longer than a pair of recent All-America guards who were poised to challenge the school record in Skylar Diggins (86 from 2011-13) and Jewell Loyd (86 from 2013-15). Diggins twice gave up her starting spot for graduating seniors to start on Senior Day, while Loyd started nearly every game of her three seasons at Notre Dame before forgoing her final year of eligibility in 2015-16 to enter the WNBA Draft.
With Allen at the helm, the Fighting Irish have amassed a stellar 92-5 (.948) record — and when you factor in her final prep season at St. John’s College High School in Washington, D.C., Allen’s teams are a combined 119-6 (.952) in the past four years when she’s been in the starting lineup.
McGraw Earns 800th Career WinWith her team’s 65-55 win on Jan. 3 at Pittsburgh, Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw became the 10th NCAA Division I coach to register 800 career victories. McGraw has a 34-year record of 806-263 (.754), including a 718-222 (.764) record in 29 seasons with the Fighting Irish.
McGraw is just the fifth NCAA Division I coach in either men’s or women’s basketball history to amass 800 wins, seven NCAA Final Four berths and five NCAA championship game appearances in his/her career. The other four — all of whom are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — are Connecticut’s Geno Auriemma, former Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and two men’s coaches — Duke’s current skipper Mike Krzyzewski and the late North Carolina coach Dean Smith.
McGraw became the sixth-fastest Division I coach to reach the 800-win milestone, doing so in 1,063 career games to hit the mark quicker than several other notable coaches including Rutgers’ C. Vivian Stringer (1,064 games), recently-retired Georgia head coach Andy Landers (1,068 games) and North Carolina’s Sylvia Hatchell (1,074 games), and nearly in lockstep with former Texas head coach Jody Conradt (1,062 games).
Four of the five Division I coaches who reached 800 wins faster than McGraw are enshrined in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame — Auriemma (928 games), Summitt (958 games), Stanford’s Tara VanDerveer (997 games) and Conradt. The lone exception is Montana’s Robin Selvig (1,055 games).
McGraw is among 14 women’s basketball nominees on the ballot for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2016, which was announced Dec. 21. The four women’s basketball finalists for this year’s class will be revealed Feb. 12 during NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto, with the Hall of Fame Class of 2016 unveiled April 4 during the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Houston. McGraw previously was enshrined in the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in June 2011 in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Spreading The WealthNotre Dame has had at least four players score in double figures in 12 games this year, going 11-1 in those contests.
Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 129-6 (.956) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 99 of their last 101 such outings.
In the past seven seasons, Notre Dame’s only losses when it has fielded at least four double-figure scorers both came against Connecticut - 83-65 in the 2013 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinal at New Orleans Arena (now known as the Smoothie King Center), and 91-81 earlier this season on Dec. 5 in the Jimmy V Classic at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut.
For the season, Notre Dame currently has four players registering double-figure scoring averages (and two others at better than 9.0 ppg.), three of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as of Tuesday) — graduate student guard Madison Cable (14th - 13.8 ppg.), freshman guard Marina Mabrey (24th - 12.6 ppg.; fourth among ACC rookies) and freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (26th - 11.7 ppg.; fifth among ACC rookies).
Three For The MoneyNotre Dame has heated up from the three-point line in a big way, canning 130 treys this season (6.5 per game), including 115 in its last 16 games (7.2 per game).
At their current pace, the Fighting Irish would easily top the single-season program record for three-pointers per game (5.74 in 1998-99). In fact, only once in the past 13 seasons has Notre Dame averaged five treys per game (2013-14, when it made exactly five per contest and a school-record 190 total).
The Fighting Irish tied a school record with 13 three-pointers on Dec. 5 at top-ranked Connecticut. The 13 triples (which Notre Dame last registered on Jan. 2, 2002, at Miami) also matched two UConn opponent records for three-pointers in a single game (overall and Gampel Pavilion).
Notre Dame’s .650 three-point percentage (13-of-20) in that Dec. 5 game at UConn was the highest against the Huskies since March 26, 2007, when LSU made 7-of-10 three-pointers (.700) against UConn in the NCAA Fresno Regional final (Elite Eight) in Fresno, California.
The Fighting Irish lead the nation in three-point percentage (as of Tuesday), connecting at a .442 clip from beyond the arc, while graduate student guard Madison Cable (.489) currently ranks as the nation’s No. 2 individual three-point shooter and senior guard Michaela Mabrey is 18th (.440).
The Second PlatoonAnother reason for Notre Dame’s success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging more than 31 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (31.8 ppg. to 13.6 ppg.).
The Notre Dame reserves have combined to score at least 30 points in 12 games this year, including five 40-point outings.
The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored the opponent’s bench in 19 games this season, including a season-high 64 points on Nov. 23 at Valparaiso, outscoring the entire Crusader roster by 10 points (not to mention the Notre Dame starters by 18).
The Fighting Irish reserves also outscored the full Virginia Tech roster on Jan. 24, edging the Hokies, 42-41 (and outscoring the Notre Dame starters by four).
In addition to the Valparaiso and Virginia Tech games, the Fighting Irish bench came close to outscoring the entire opposing team on two other occasions — Nov. 18 vs. Toledo (UT 39, ND reserves 32) and Nov. 27 vs. Denver at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas (DU 52, ND reserves 48).
A pair of freshman guards — Marina Mabrey (12.6 ppg.) and Arike Ogunbowale (11.7 ppg.) head up the strong Fighting Irish bench contingent, which has seen at least one reserve score in double figures in 17 games this year (total of 27 double-figure outings).
Streak StatsSince the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 127-7 (.948) record.
In that four-year span, six of the seven Fighting Irish losses have come against top-three teams, including the past five against Connecticut — No. 3 Baylor (73-61 on Dec. 5, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion), No. 3 Connecticut (83-65 on April 7, 2013, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals at New Orleans Arena - now known as the Smoothie King Center - in New Orleans, Louisiana), No. 1 Connecticut (79-58 on April 8, 2014, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee), No. 3 Connecticut (76-58 on Dec. 6, 2014, in the Jimmy V Classic at Purcell Pavilion), No. 1 Connecticut (63-53 on April 7, 2015, in the NCAA Women’s Final Four national championship game at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida) and No. 1 Connecticut (91-81 on Dec. 5, 2015, in the Jimmy V Classic in Storrs, Connecticut).
The other loss came on Jan. 8, 2015, with a 78-63 setback at Miami. That defeat ended Notre Dame’s 61-game winning streak against unranked opponents in the Associated Press poll, the second-longest active run in the nation (research for this note provided by STATS via the AP).
Poise Under PressureNotre Dame has won its last 24 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including five times this season.
The Fighting Irish last dropped a single-digit decision on March 6, 2012, falling 63-54 at No. 4 Connecticut in the BIG EAST Conference Tournament championship game at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
Notre Dame has been sharp when pushed to overtime, winning six in a row and eight of its last 11 when going to an extra session.
Visiting Century CityNotre Dame’s 110-51 victory at Valparaiso on Nov. 23 was its 13th 100-point game since the start of the 2011-12 season (and 10 other games of 95-99 points), a remarkable offensive explosion considering Notre Dame had 13 triple-digit games in the first 34 years of the program’s existence — and just four in the 12 seasons prior to its current run.
Road WarriorsNotre Dame has enjoyed remarkable success on the road in recent seasons, having won 52 of its last 54 (and 59 of its last 66) regular season road games.
The only blemishes for the Fighting Irish in this current run (which dates back to the early portion of the 2011-12 campaign) are a 78-63 loss at Miami on Jan. 8, 2015, and a 91-81 defeat at top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 5, 2015, in the Jimmy V Classic.
The loss in Miami snapped Notre Dame’s NCAA Division I record-tying 30-game road winning streak. It was an amazing string of results in hostile territory, a streak that lasted exactly three years (Jan. 4, 2012-Jan. 4, 2015) and left Notre Dame tied with Connecticut for the NCAA Division I all-time mark in that category.
One of the more notable highlights of Notre Dame’s sensational recent road run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, at Gampel Pavilion in Storrs, Connecticut, earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
-- ND --
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's basketball and women's golf programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master's degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).