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    Fighting Irish
    #16 Irish Back On Hardwood Wednesday Against Marquette

    FIGHTING IRISH Junior guard Lindsay Schrader is averaging 7.0 rebounds in her last three games, including a team-high eight boards in Sunday's 81-66 win over No. 15 Pittsburgh.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Junior guard Lindsay Schrader is averaging 7.0 rebounds in her last three games, including a team-high eight boards in Sunday's 81-66 win over No. 15 Pittsburgh.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Feb. 12, 2008

    Game Notes Package in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

    2007-08 ND Women's Basketball: Game 24
    #16/16 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (18-5 / 6-3 BIG EAST) vs. Marquette Golden Eagles (13-10 / 5-5 BIG EAST)

    DATE: February 13, 2008
    TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
    AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Joyce Center (11,418)
    SERIES: ND leads 27-5
    1ST MTG: 2/3/78 (MU 66-41)
    LAST MTG: 1/23/07 (MU 71-62)
    RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM (Sean Stires, p-b-p)
    TV: CSTV (live) (Jonathan Coachman, p-b-p / Debbie Antonelli, color)
    LIVE STATS: UND.com
    TICKETS: (574) 631-7356

    Storylines

  • Notre Dame faces the most frequent opponent in school history, with the Irish and Marquette set to battle for the 33rd time on Wednesday night.
  • The Irish defense has been rejuvenated of late, allowing just 53.7 points in the past three games.
  • No. 16 Irish Back On The Hardwood Wednesday Against Marquette
    After securing its first win over a ranked opponent this season, No. 16 Notre Dame will look to build on that momentum when it welcomes Marquette to the Joyce Center Wednesday for a 7 p.m. (ET) contest. The game will be broadcast live to a national cable audience by CSTV, the third of four appearances for the Irish on that network this season.

    Notre Dame (18-5, 6-3 BIG EAST) used a strong defensive effort to power past No. 15 Pittsburgh, 81-66 on Sunday afternoon at the Joyce Center. The Irish held the Panthers to a .308 field goal percentage and used a 14-2 run early in the second half to take command before hitting 14-of-16 free throws in the final two minutes to secure the victory.

    Senior guard Tulyah Gaines led another balanced offensive attack for Notre Dame with a team-high 13 points, including 9-of-10 free throws down the stretch. Junior guard Lindsay Schrader added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Irish, who had five double-figure scorers for the seventh time this season.

    Rankings

  • Notre Dame is ranked 16th in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls this week.
  • Marquette is not ranked.
  • A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
    Behind a high-octane offense and an aggressive defense, Notre Dame has been a fixture in the national polls this season. The Irish have been ranked every week (except for the preseason ESPN/USA Today poll) and have appeared in the top 20 for the past 11 weeks, rising as high as 14th just before the start of BIG EAST Conference play.

    Notre Dame also ranks among the top 20 in six NCAA statistical categories, including scoring offense (7th, 78.8 ppg.), assist/turnover ratio (8th, 1.15), and scoring margin (9th, +18.3 ppg.) with half of its wins by 30 points or more. The Irish also rank second in the BIG EAST (15th nationally) in steals (12.09 spg.) and have forced at least 20 turnovers on 15 occasions.

    Senior guard Charel Allen, a first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America pick last year, is setting the pace for a balanced Notre Dame attack, averaging a team-high 13.9 points per game (18th in BIG EAST) and sharing the team lead with 46 steals (8th in BIG EAST). She also has scored in double figures 19 times in 23 games, including 10 of her last 11.

    Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow has built upon last year's BIG EAST All-Freshman Team selection, ranking second on the team in scoring (12.6 ppg.) and standing right behind Allen with 45 steals. She also boasts a team-high .348 three-point percentage and is 23rd in the country with an .864 free throw percentage.

    Junior guard Lindsay Schrader continues to work her way back to peak form after missing last year with a torn ACL in her right knee. Schrader is third on the squad in scoring (10.4 ppg.) and tops in rebounding (5.8 rpg.) as one of the cornerstones of Notre Dame's unique Princeton-based four-guard lineup.

    While Schrader is back from her ACL injury, freshman forward Devereaux Peters had her season end early with a torn ACL in her left knee, suffered Feb. 10 vs. Pittsburgh. Peters provided a strong spark off the bench, averaging 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks per game. She also scored in double figures 14 times, including a season-high 15 points vs. Villanova and her first career double-double (10 points, 12 rebounds) against top-ranked Connecticut.

    Potent Notables About The Irish

  • Notre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 12 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 285 victories in that span.
  • Notre Dame's incoming class of 2008 (next year's freshmen) has an average ranking of 15th (peaking at No. 8 by Dan Olsen Collegiate Girls Basketball Report), marking the 12th consecutive season that the Irish attracted a Top 25 recruiting class. Notre Dame is one of only three schools (along with Connecticut and Tennessee) to have an active streak of that length.
  • Notre Dame ranked ninth in the Feb. 11 unofficial national attendance rankings (compiled by the Wisconsin Sports Information Office), averaging 7,218 fans to its 13 home games this season (including three of the top six crowds in school history). The Irish also have attracted 5,000-or-more fans to 107 of their last 109 home games, including five Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Jan. 27, 2008 vs. Connecticut). Last season, Notre Dame ranked 10th nationally in attendance (6,364 fans per game), marking the seventh consecutive year the Irish were among the national top 20 in attendance.
  • The Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as six Notre Dame players have been selected in the past seven seasons. Megan Duffy was the most recent Irish player to be chosen, going to the Minnesota Lynx in the third round (31st overall pick) of the 2006 WNBA Draft. Duffy and Ruth Riley (San Antonio) both were active in the league during the 2007 season, with Riley making her sixth playoff appearance (on her third different team) in a solid seven-year pro career. All told, seven Notre Dame alums have competed in WNBA regular-season play, with three of them combining to win four league championships -- Riley won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets, while Jacqueline Batteast was Riley's teammate on the '06 title-winning squad in Detroit.
  • Notre Dame has been an elite program in the classroom as well. For the second year in a row, the Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October 2007. Notre Dame was one of 23 Division I-A programs to achieve this distinction, and one of only two BIG EAST schools (Syracuse was the other). Furthermore, since Muffet McGraw became the Irish head coach in 1987, every Notre Dame women's basketball player that has completed her athletic and academic eligibility at the University has graduated (a perfect 53-for-53 success rate).
  • A Quick Look At Marquette
    Following a school-record 26 wins and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, Marquette has set the bar for future Golden Eagle teams. Despite losing four starters from that club, MU has shown flashes of potential this season, indicating more bright days are ahead in Milwaukee.

    Marquette (13-10, 5-5) has won three of its last five games, but is coming off a narrow 70-67 loss at then-No. 23/24 Syracuse on Sunday afternoon. The Golden Eagles led by as many as seven points early on, then trailed by 14 points with less than 14 minutes to play before rallying to take the lead. However, SU rallied to go in front once again and held off MU's last-ditch attempts to force overtime.

    Junior guard Krystal Ellis had a team-high 16 points to lead three Golden Eagles in double figures at Syracuse. An honorable mention All-American and first-team all-BIG EAST pick last season, Ellis ranks third in the conference in scoring (18.9 ppg) and is tied for fifth in steals (2.25 spg). Freshman guard Angel Robinson already has broken the school's rookie steals record (second in BIG EAST at 2.96 spg) and is second on the team in scoring (9.6 ppg).

    Head coach Terri Mitchell is in her 12th season at Marquette with an 230-126 (.646) career record. She is 1-7 all-time vs. Notre Dame.

    The Notre Dame-Marquette Series
    The longest running series in school history, Notre Dame and Marquette will meet for the 33rd time on Wednesday night at the Joyce Center. The Irish lead the rivalry with the Golden Eagles, 27-5, including a 16-1 record at home (and an active streak of 15 consecutive Joyce Center wins). It should be noted that Marquette's record book reflects two more games played vs. Notre Dame (both MU wins), but the Irish record book does not list those games since they took place before Notre Dame achieved varsity status in 1977-78.

    The series dates back to that first varsity season (1977-78), when the Golden Eagles (then known as the Warriors) defeated Notre Dame, 66-41 on Feb. 3, 1978 in Milwaukee. The teams met almost annually through the 1995-96 season before the series went on a three-year hiatus. It returned in the 1999-2000 campaign and has been played annually since then.

    The Last Time Notre Dame And Marquette Met
    Efueko Osagie-Landry scored 15 points and Krystal Ellis added 12 to lead No. 17/18 Marquette to an 71-62 victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 23, 2007, at the Al McGuire Center in Milwaukee. The loss snapped a 10-game series winning streak for the Irish, while the Golden Eagles claimed the first win over Notre Dame since Dec. 1, 1992.

    Christina Quaye had 12 points for Marquette. Charel Allen led Notre Dame with 17 points and Ashley Barlow added 12 points for the Irish.

    After trailing nearly the entire game, Notre Dame closed the gap to 52-48 when Allen hit two free throws with 7:27 remaining. Marquette then went on an 11-4 run to grab a 63-52 lead with 3:42 remaining when Osagie-Landry converted an old-fashioned three-point play.

    Notre Dame could get no closer than seven points the rest of the way when Breona Gray hit two free throws with 35.6 seconds left. Marquette hit five of eight free throws, including three by Osagie-Landry, down the stretch.

    The Golden Eagles pulled ahead in the first half, but Notre Dame cut the halftime lead to 31-29 on a three-pointer by Crystal Erwin with 32 seconds left in the opening period.

    The Last Time Notre Dame And Marquette Met At The Joyce Center
    Megan Duffy hit a running layup as the buzzer sounded to give No. 20 Notre Dame a 67-65 overtime win over Marquette on Jan. 10, 2006, at the Joyce Center. Duffy finished with a career-high 32 points, including the tying basket with 26 seconds left in the extra period.

    Marquette forced the overtime when Krystal Ellis hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the score at 57. Ellis then hit a three to start the overtime and MU led until Duffy, who scored 17 points in the second half, tied it with her trey.

    Charel Allen added 15 points for the Irish, who shot just 33 percent. Lindsay Schrader led the Irish with 10 rebounds. Notre Dame was 22-of-33 from the free-throw line.

    The Golden Eagles had a chance to go ahead in the closing seconds of overtime, but Christina Quaye missed inside in traffic and Duffy came up with the loose ball and took off for the game-winning shot. After she hit the right-handed basket (her off-hand), the Irish mobbed Duffy and Courtney LaVere picked up her teammate.

    Danielle Kamm led the Golden Eagles with 17 points, but had just six after halftime. Jasmine McCullough had 12 points and eight rebounds before fouling out late in the second half. Carolyn Kieger had 11 points and 10 rebounds and Quaye had 10 points and 12 rebounds.

    Other Notre Dame-Marquette Series Tidbits

  • Notre Dame has won 26 of the past 28 games in the series after Marquette won three of the first four meetings (twice in Milwaukee, once in South Bend). The Golden Eagles' win last season was their first over the Irish since Dec. 1, 1992 in Milwaukee, a 66-62 verdict.
  • The past five games in the series have been particularly close, with the Irish winning all four by an average margin of 5.8 points per game. The 2006 overtime game at the Joyce Center (on MU's last visit to South Bend) was the first in series history to go to an extra period.
  • The 27 victories by Notre Dame and the 32 series games are both school records. Dayton, Detroit and current BIG EAST member Georgetown all are tied for second on the Irish opponent victory list (22), while Notre Dame has played another current BIG EAST school, DePaul 29 times (with at least one other meeting to come this season on Feb. 24 in Chicago).
  • Notre Dame is 34-9 (.791) all-time vs. Wisconsin schools, including a 18-2 (.900) record at the Joyce Center. The majority of those games have come as part of the series with Marquette.
  • With MU's arrival in the BIG EAST prior to the 2005-06 season, the Irish and Golden Eagles have been members in the same conference three times. Previously, the teams shared affiliations for two-year periods in the North Star (1986-88) and Midwestern Collegiate (1989-91) conferences. The NSC now is defunct, while the MCC was renamed the Horizon League. Notre Dame is 9-1 against Marquette in conference play, going 4-0 vs. the Golden Eagles in both the NSC and MCC and 1-1 in the BIG EAST.
  • Marquette has topped the 70-point mark three times against Notre Dame. Conversely, the Irish have scored at least 70 points against the Golden Eagles 21 times, all in the past 26 series meetings.
  • Peters To Miss Rest Of 2007-08 Season
    Freshman forward Devereaux Peters will miss the remainder of the 2007-08 women's basketball season after injuring her left knee in the second half of Notre Dame's 81-66 win over No. 15 Pittsburgh on Feb. 10 at the Joyce Center. Peters suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), an injury that was confirmed by team orthopedist Dr. Fred Ferlic after Peters underwent a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) exam on Feb. 11. Peters will undergo surgery to repair the injury at a later date, and her rehabilitation timetable has not yet been established.

    At the time of her injury, Peters ranked fourth on the team in scoring at 9.0 points per game, second in rebounding (5.6 rpg) and third in steals (1.7 spg). She also ranked among the BIG EAST leaders in blocked shots (3rd - 1.96 bpg.) and field goal percentage (9th - .522), and she scored in double figures 14 times this season, including the final four games of her rookie campaign. In addition, she logged her first career double-double on Jan. 27 against top-ranked Connecticut with 10 points and a career-high 12 rebounds.

    What's more, her total blocks (45) and blocks-per-game average rank third all-time among Irish freshmen, trailing only Shari Matvey (94 blocks, 3.1 bpg. in 1979-80) and Ruth Riley (71 blocks, 2.2 bpg. in 1997-98).

    Peaking When It Counts
    When the regular season enters its stretch run in the month of February, Notre Dame historically seems to raise its level of play. Since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, the Irish are 73-19 (.793) in February games, including a 42-4 (.913) mark at home.

    In the 21-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-present), the Irish are 121-34 (.781) in the month of February, including a 64-10 (.865) home record. In that time, Notre Dame has not had a losing February, and only once did the Irish end the month at .500 (4-4 in 1988-89, McGraw's second season in South Bend).

    Last year, Notre Dame went 6-2 in February, winning its first six before ending with losses to No. 21/22 Rutgers (76-60 at home) and DePaul (87-73 on the road).

    Chart Toppers
    Notre Dame is peppered throughout the latest NCAA statistical rankings (as of Monday). The Irish among the top 20 in the nation in six categories, led by a No. 7 ranking for scoring offense (78.8) and and No. 8 ranking for assist/turnover ratio (1.15). Notre Dame also is ninth in scoring margin (+18.3), 12th in fewest turnovers (14.0), 15th in steals (12.1), and 18th in field goal percentage (.460).

    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.

    Thirty Deeds
    Half (9) of Notre Dame's 18 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 nine 30-point wins in its first 23 games.

    It's also the first time since the 2000-01 national championship season that the Irish have logged at least nine 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 23 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 78.8 points per game, having tallied at least 80 points 13 times this season. What's more, Notre Dame also has the fourth-highest scoring average through 23 games in program history, and highest since the 1998-99 squad averaged 82.7 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 ninth in the nation) in scoring margin at +18.3 points per game.

    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 30.8 points per game (compared to 48.0 ppg. by the starters) and has outscored all 23 opponent benches this season by an average of +16.6 points per night.

    Prior to her season-ending knee injury on Feb. 10 vs. Pittsburgh, freshman forward Devereaux Peters was leading the way for this year's Irish "shock troops". The Chicago native averaged 9.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.96 blocks per game (third in BIG EAST and 45th in the nation) with a .522 field goal percentage (ninth in the conference). Peters came off the bench in 21 of 23 games this year, piling up a season-high 15 points and seven steals vs. Villanova before collecting her first career double-double (10 points, season-high 12 rebounds) on Jan. 27 against top-ranked Connecticut.

    Youth Movement
    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 guard Brittany Mallory and forwards Becca Bruszewski and Devereaux Peters.

    All three Irish rookies have done their part to help Notre Dame to its 18-5 record, with each one averaging at least 11 minutes and having scored in double figures at least three times. Before suffering a season-ending knee injury on Feb. 10 vs. Pittsburgh, Peters was fourth on the team in scoring (9.0 ppg) and scored in double digits 14 times, while also ranking third in the BIG EAST (45th in the nation) in blocked shots (1.96 bpg). Mallory is averaging 6.6 points per game, is second on the team with 21 three-pointers and chalked up a season-high 15 points on Jan. 19 at Georgetown. Bruszewski is logging 4.5 points and 2.6 rebounds per game, collecting her fourth double-figure scoring performance of the season with 10 points and six rebounds on Sunday vs. 15th-ranked Pittsburgh.

    Spreading The Wealth
    One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's squad this season is its balance and depth. That's been particularly evident, with six different players from all five floor positions and all four classes leading the team in scoring. Senior point guard Tulyah Gaines became the latest scoring leader for the Irish with a team-high 13 points in Sunday's win over No. 15 Pittsburgh.

    Double Trouble
    Notre Dame's balance this season can best be 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 been sharp at the offensive end this season, thanks in large part to its ability to take care of the basketball. The Irish rank 12th in the nation with just 14.0 turnovers per game and have been charged with 20 or more turnovers just once in the past 39 games (20 at Louisville on Jan. 8). Notre Dame also has been especially strong with the ball of late, averaging only 9.5 giveaways in its last two games.

    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 22.4 turnovers per night and currently leads the BIG EAST with a +8.43 turnover margin, almost four takeaways better than second-place Connecticut. The Irish have caused at least 20 turnovers in 15 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 the BIG EAST Conference and 15th nationally in steals, averaging 12.09 thefts per game (11.11 in conference play), including eight games this season where the Irish had at least 15 steals. What's more, Notre Dame's season-high 23 steals vs. Providence on Jan. 30 were the most for the Irish in a single game since Jan. 28, 1995 (23 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee at the Joyce Center), and only one off the BIG EAST record.

    Individually, the Irish have five players with at least 30 steals this season (and another with 29). Senior guard Charel Allen leads the way with 46, ranking eighth in the BIG EAST in that category (2.0 spg). Allen has been especially potent of late with 11 steals in the past three games, including a career-high six in the win over Providence.

    Notre Dame tied Connecticut for the BIG EAST title in steals last season (9.69 spg. in league play; 10.47 overall), the first time the Irish won a conference steals crown since 1989-90, when they led the Horizon League with 10.93 steals per game.

    Keeping It On The Plus Side
    Notre Dame has registered a positive assist-to-turnover ratio in 14 games this season and ranks third in the BIG EAST (eighth nationally) with a 1.15 assist-to-turnover ratio. Notre Dame also has assisted on 54.6 percent of its field goals this year (370 assists on 678 baskets), ranking fifth in the conference and 29th in the country with 16.09 assists per game.

    Off And Running
    Notre Dame has wasted little time in jumping ahead of its opponents this season. In nearly half (8) of their 18 wins, the Irish have opened up a double-digit lead less than 12 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.

    Allen Climbing Irish Points Ladder
    Senior guard Charel Allen continues to make her way up Notre Dame's all-time scoring list, currently standing 12th with 1,372 points. Next up for Allen is Shari Matvey, who is in 11th place with 1,373 points from 1979-83.

    What's more, Allen is just 58 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.

    Polling Station
    Notre Dame is ranked 16th in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, holding steady 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 154 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 14th consecutive week, moving up one spot to 16th in this week's 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 23 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 154 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 23 people on this elite list, 12 are currently NCAA Division I head coaches.

    Clutch When It Counts
    Notre Dame is 68-of-84 (.810) from the free throw line in the final two minutes (plus overtime) this season, including an impressive 14-of-16 (.875) display in Sunday's win over No. 15 Pittsburgh. Leading the way is sophomore guard Ashley Barlow, who is 11-of-12 (.917) this year and 21-of-24 (.875) in her career when toeing the line down the stretch.

    Crowded House
    The Jan. 27 game vs. Connecticut was the fifth women's basketball sellout (11,418) in school history and second this season (also Jan. 5 vs. Tennessee). It also is the second time in school history Notre Dame has posted multiple sellouts in one season, having also done so in 2000-01 (Connecticut and Georgetown).

    In addition, the Jan. 27 audience marked the first time the Irish have attracted three crowds of 10,000 fans in the same season, as 10,825 fans took in the Dec. 2 win over Michigan.

    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 Tennessee (lost 87-63 on Jan. 5 at the Joyce Center), No. 2 Connecticut (lost 81-64 on Jan. 27 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 is at six, as the Irish have hit the 88-point mark in both exhibition wins, 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.

    Friends In Need
    Longtime Irish women's basketball fan and Notre Dame Office of Information Technologies employee Patricia McAdams remains in stable condition at the St. Joseph Regional Medical Center in South Bend after a Jan. 13 auto accident. While returning from Notre Dame's game at West Virginia earlier in the day, Patricia was severely injured when she stopped on a highway outside Fort Wayne, Ind., to help a fellow motorist and was then struck by a car.

    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.

    Patricia's OIT colleagues have created a web page to update supporters on her progress: http://oit.nd.edu/patricia.

    Notre Dame also lost a treasured friend on Jan. 22, when longtime Joyce Center clock operator Mark Tulchinsky passed away. Mark was a dedicated educator in the South Bend Community School Corporation, most recently serving as principal at Tarkington Traditional School. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mark, his wife, Nan (the official scorer for Notre Dame basketball), and the Tulchinsky family.

    Promotional Corner
    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 for the latest information:

  • Feb. 13 vs. Marquette -- Midweek Mania (buy one ticket, get one free) ... Senior player trading cards to the first 1,000 fans courtesy of The RoomPlace... post-game autograph session courtside with selected Notre Dame players.
  • Next Game: Syracuse
    The Irish embark on a key three-game road swing, beginning Saturday with a 7 p.m. (ET) matchup at No. 21/23 Syracuse. Notre Dame will be making its second-ever visit to the Carrier Dome (67-55 victory in 2006), which became SU's permanent home in 2005-06.

    Syracuse (18-4, 6-3) is arguably the nation's fastest-rising program, earning the first Top 25 ranking in school history. Since throwing a major scare into then-No. 1 Connecticut on Jan. 15 (losing 65-59 at home), the Orange have won four of their last five games, heading into Wednesday night's contest at Seton Hall.

    -- ND --
     

     

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