Feb. 21, 2016
by Chris Masters
Notre Dame Game Notes
2015-16 ND Women's Basketball: Game 27
#2/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (25-1 / 13-0 ACC) vs. #10/9 Florida State Seminoles (21-5 / 11-2 ACC)
DATE: Feb. 22, 2016
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Tallahassee, Fla. - Tucker Center (12,100)
SERIES: ND leads 4-0
STREAK: ND - won 4
1ST MTG: ND 81-60 (2/6/14)
LAST MTG: ND 71-58 (3/8/15)
TV: ESPN2/ESPN3/WatchESPN (live) (Beth Mowins, p-b-p / Stephanie White, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: seminoles.com
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TWITTER: @NDsidMasters / @ndwbb
StorylinesNotre Dame will face its ninth ranked opponent of the season (and third in four games), having posted a 7-1 record this year.
The Fighting Irish will make their third appearance this year on ESPN2’s Big Monday.
Big Monday Battle For No. 2/3 Fighting Irish At No. 10/9 Florida State
While it won’t be trading sneakers for track spikes, No. 2/3 Notre Dame has its own sprint to the finish line this week with three games in six days to close the regular season, beginning at 7 p.m. (ET) Monday when it visits Tallahassee, Florida, to take on No. 10/9 Florida State at the Tucker Center. The game will be televised live on ESPN2, ESPN3 and WatchESPN as part of the Big Monday package, 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 (25-1, 13-0) earned its 18th consecutive win on Thursday with an 86-52 victory at Wake Forest. The Fighting Irish shot 56.5 percent from the field and led by more than 30 points for the balance of the second half.
Sophomore forward Brianna Turner had game highs of 19 points and 11 rebounds, and freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale had 16 points to lead five Irish players in double figures.
RankingsNotre Dame was No. 2 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 3 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
Florida State was No. 10 in last week’s Associated Press poll and was No. 9 in last week’s WBCA/USA Today poll.
Quick HittersNotre Dame is off to a 25-1 start or better for the third time in four years and fourth time in program history (also 2000-01, 2012-13 and 2013-14).
The Fighting Irish have registered their seventh consecutive 25-win season and the 13th in program history (all within the past 20 seasons).
Notre Dame has secured a top-four finish in the ACC and a double-bye for the upcoming ACC Tournament. The Fighting Irish will place in the top four of the final conference standings for the 26th time in head coach Muffet McGraw’s 29 seasons at Notre Dame (covering four different leagues).
The Fighting Irish are 7-1 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 was tied for 12th in last week’s AP poll and was ranked 14th in last week’s 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 13.5 ppg.) and sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld (6.7 to 8.3 ppg.), as well as the reliable production off the bench from freshman guards Arike Ogunbowale (12.0 ppg.) and Marina Mabrey (11.4 ppg.).
The Fighting Irish feature a very balanced attack with four players currently posting double-figure scoring averages (and two others at 8.0 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 30.8 points per game, compared to 14.2 ppg. for their opponent’s bench.
Notre Dame ranks among the top 25 in six NCAA statistical categories (as of Saturday), including five top-10 rankings — field-goal percentage (3rd - .494), three-point field-goal percentage (4th - .406), scoring margin (5th - +20.2 ppg.), assists (9th - 18.1 apg.) and scoring offense (9th - 80.5 ppg.). The Fighting Irish also rank 22nd in assist/turnover ratio (1.21), while standing third in the non-statistical measure of win-loss percentage (.962).
Including last week’s season-high No. 2 ranking, Notre Dame has appeared in the Associated Press poll for 170 consecutive weeks (the past 100 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 112 of 123 weeks this decade (since 2010-11), ranking second in the nation in that category behind only Connecticut (123).
Every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a top-10 Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (68 of 74 weeks) spent in the top five of the Associated Press poll.
Notre Dame was ranked No. 3 in last week’s Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA)/USA Today poll, making its 137th 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 431-91 (.826) all-time record in 39 seasons at the facility, including a 108-6 (.947) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
Including regular season and postseason play, the Fighting Irish have won 91 of their last 95 games against conference opponents (and a school-record 32 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 51-1 against conference foes (44-1 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 133-7 (.950) 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 46-6 (.885) record against ranked teams (24-6 against top-10 opponents).
With 724 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 812 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 975 as of Saturday).
The Notre Dame-Florida State Series
Notre Dame and Florida State will square off for the fifth time in their series history, all since the Fighting Irish joined the ACC in 2013-14. Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time against the Seminoles, winning both regular season matchups, as well as a pair of meetings in the ACC Tournament, including last year’s conference championship game.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Florida State Met
Jewell Loyd scored 18 points and No. 2 Notre Dame earned its second straight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship, beating No. 7 Florida State 71-58 in the title game on March 8, 2015, at the Greensboro Coliseum in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Taya Reimer added 16 points for the top-seeded Fighting Irish, who shot 52 percent and led by 22 points while claiming their third consecutive conference tournament title.
Notre Dame won the BIG EAST tournament in 2013 — its final season in that league — and improved to 6-0 in ACC tournament games.
Maegan Conwright had 14 points for the second-seeded Seminoles, who came up empty in their first appearance in the ACC championship game.
They shot 37 percent but missed 15 of 17 shots during the stretch when the game began to slip away.
The Seminoles tried to make things interesting late, closing to 69-56 on Ivey Slaughter’s free throw with 3:24 left before they came up empty on four of their next five possessions.
For Florida State, the second half was an uphill climb against a Notre Dame team that methodically stretched its lead into the 20s.
Madison Cable put the Fighting Irish up by 20 for the first time with a corner 3-pointer one possession before Loyd’s slick layup gave them their largest lead, 67-45, with just under eight minutes left.
Cable finished with 13 points and ACC Freshman of the Year Brianna Turner added 10 for Notre Dame, which was playing in a conference final for the fifth straight year.
The Fighting Irish earned their first measure of separation late in the first half by holding the Seminoles to two field goals in almost 13 minutes.
Notre Dame used runs of 14-2 and 14-6 to build a comfortable lead and both bursts were capped by Loyd: The ACC Player of the Year’s jumper less tha three minutes into the second half made it 46-28.
Leticia Romero had 13 points and Adut Bulgak finished with 10 for Florida State.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Florida State Met in Tallahassee
Natalie Achonwa scored 24 points and Jewell Loyd added 18 to lead No. 2 Notre Dame to an 81-60 victory over Florida State on Feb. 6, 2014, at the Tucker Center in Tallahassee, Florida.
Kayla McBride chipped in 14 points for Notre Dame.
Cheetah Delgado scored a career-high 18 points and Natasha Howard finished with 11 points and eight rebounds for Florida State.
The Fighting Irish defense was stout, holding Howard seven points below her season average. A 24-5 run in the second half allowed Notre Dame to run away after the Seminoles cut it to 34-33 shortly after halftime.
Notre Dame jumped out to a 27-13 lead thanks to a 15-2 run sparked by Achonwa, who scored 15 first-half points on 6-for-7 shooting from the field. The Fighting Irish clogged the middle and left the Seminoles shooting perimeter jump shots. Florida State adjusted as the Seminoles closed the half with a 16-5 run. Howard scored eight consecutive points during the spurt.
The Seminoles trailed 32-29 at halftime after Delgado hit a runner with six seconds remaining. She added a jumper that brought Florida State within one point early in the second half, but the Fighting Irish ran away with a heavy dose of Loyd, who scored 14 of her 18 after the break. The 24-5 run that put the Seminoles away was highlighted by an alley-oop from Michaela Mabrey to Loyd.
Other Notre Dame-Florida State Series TidbitsNotre Dame junior guard/captain Lindsay Allen was a teammate with Florida State junior center Kai James on the East Team at the 2013 McDonald’s High School All-America Game, played at Chicago’s United Center (the West defeated the East, 92-64).
Allen and James, as well as Notre Dame sophomore forward Brianna Turner, were teammates on the 2012 USA Basketball Under-17 National Team that went 8-0 and struck gold at the FIBA U17 World Championships in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
Notre Dame sophomore forward Kathryn Westbeld played alongside Florida State sophomore forward Shakayla Thomas on the East Team, which dropped an 80-78 decision to Fighting Irish sophomore forward Brianna Turner and the West Team in the 2014 McDonald’s High School All-America Game at the United Center in Chicago. Turner was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after collecting 11 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks, as well as the game-winning basket in the final minute, while Thomas scored a game-high 19 points for the East Team.
Notre Dame associate head coach Carol Owens and Florida State head coach Sue Semrau have a friendship that dates back more than two decades to their days at Northern Illinois, when Owens was completing her All-America career as a power forward at NIU in 1990 (and subsequently returning to campus to train when she was playing professionally overseas) and Semrau was arriving on the DeKalb, Illinois, campus as an assistant coach (1991-94). The pair also have previously served together on the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) Board of Directors, with Semrau currently the WBCA’s Past President.
Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw presently serves alongside Semrau on the WBCA’s Executive Committee as the group’s NCAA Division I Legislative Chair.
Florida State director of athletics Stan Wilcox is a 1981 Notre Dame graduate and was a four-year monogram recipient on the Fighting Irish men’s basketball team (1977-81), playing for legendary coach Digger Phelps and helping Notre Dame to its first NCAA Final Four appearance in 1978. Wilcox later returned to his alma mater to serve as deputy athletics director from 2005-08.
Sunshine State SuccessNotre Dame is 35-6 (.854) all-time against Florida schools, including a 21-3 (.875) record away from home (road/neutral combined) against Sunshine State teams.
The Fighting Irish also have won 15 of their last 16 games against Florida schools, including a 90-69 victory over No. 19/17 Miami back on Feb. 14 at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame has won nine of its last 10 games away from home (road/neutral combined) against teams from the state of Florida, with the lone exception being last year’s 78-63 setback at Miami.
Coming Up Big On “Big Monday”Notre Dame will make the last of three appearances this season on ESPN2’s “Big Monday” women’s basketball package when it visits Florida State Monday night.
The Fighting Irish already defeated Tennessee at home (79-66) on Jan. 18, and won at Duke (68-61) on Feb. 1, both as part of this year’s Big Monday package, joining South Carolina as the only schools that will make three appearances on Big Monday in 2015-16.
Notre Dame has played 13 times on Big Monday in the past five seasons (2011-12 to present), going 13-0 in those games (7-0 at home, 6-0 on the road).
That record does not include four wins in as many appearances (two against Duke, one each against Louisville and North Carolina) on ESPN’s Sunday afternoon women’s basketball package that debuted in 2013-14.
Peaking When It CountsWhen the regular season enters its stretch run in the month of February, Notre Dame historically seems to raise its level of play.
Since 1995-96, the Fighting Irish are 126-28 (.818) in February games (including an active 31-game winning streak), as well as a 70-6 (.921) mark at home.
In the 29-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present), the Fighting Irish are 174-43 (.802) in the month of February, including a 92-12 (.885) home record.
In that time, Notre Dame has never posted a losing record in February (a feat that continued this season with Thursday’s win at Wake Forest), and only once did the Fighting Irish end the month at .500 (4-4 in 1988-89, McGraw’s second year in South Bend).
Helping HandsNotre Dame has been known for its ability to share the basketball like few teams in the sport, a trend that continues this year with the Fighting Irish recording assists on 60.8 percent of their made baskets (470 of 773).
This should come as no surprise, for in the past six seasons (2009-10 through 2014-15), Notre Dame finished the campaign with assists on more than 60 percent of its baskets five times — and in the sixth (2014-15), the Fighting Irish had assists on 59.5 percent of their field goals.
Spreading The WealthNotre Dame has had at least four players score in double figures in 17 games this year, going 16-1 in those contests.
Since the start of the 2009-10 season, the Fighting Irish are 134-6 (.957) when they have four or more players reach double digits in the scoring column, including wins in 104 of their last 106 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 8.0 ppg.), all of whom are ranked among the top 30 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (as of Saturday) — sophomore forward Brianna Turner (13th - 14.2 ppg.), graduate student guard Madison Cable (19th - 13.5 ppg.), freshman guard Arike Ogunbowale (24th - 12.0 ppg.; fifth among ACC rookies) and freshman guard Marina Mabrey (26th - 11.4 ppg.; sixth among ACC rookies).
Three For The MoneyNotre Dame has heated up from the three-point line in a big way, canning 154 treys this season (5.92 per game).
At their current pace, the Fighting Irish would 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) 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 rank fourth in country in three-point percentage (as of Saturday), connecting at a .406 clip from beyond the arc, while graduate student guard Madison Cable (.470) currently leads the ACC and ranks as the nation’s No. 3 individual three-point shooter.
The Second PlatoonAnother reason for Notre Dame’s success this season has been the performance of its reserves, who are averaging more than 30 points per game and have outscored the opponent’s bench by more than a 2-to-1 margin (30.8 ppg. to 14.2 ppg.).
The Notre Dame reserves have combined to score at least 30 points in 14 games this year, including seven 40-point outings.
The Fighting Irish second unit has outscored the opponent’s bench in 24 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 — Arike Ogunbowale (12.0 ppg.) and Marina Mabrey (11.4 ppg.) head up the Fighting Irish bench contingent, which has seen at least one reserve score in double figures in 22 games this year (total of 36 double-figure outings).
Streak StatsSince the start of the 2012-13 season, Notre Dame has posted a 133-7 (.950) 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).
Conference ConquestsIncluding postseason tournament results (league and NCAA), Notre Dame has won 91 of its last 95 games against conference opponents, dating back to the start of the 2011 BIG EAST Conference Tournament.
Since joining the Atlantic Coast Conference prior to the 2013-14 season, the Fighting Irish are 51-1 against league opponents, going 44-1 in the regular season and 7-0 in the postseason (including a win over then-ACC member Maryland in the 2014 NCAA Women’s Final Four national semifinals).
Notre Dame’s only loss to an ACC opponent since joining the conference came on Jan. 8, 2015 — a 78-63 defeat at Miami that ended a school-record streak of 38 consecutive wins in regular season conference games.
Since the loss at Miami, Notre Dame has won its last 26 regular season games against ACC opponents (plus three more in the 2015 ACC Tournament).
The Fighting Irish have won a school-record 32 consecutive home games against conference opponents, a streak that began on Feb. 14, 2012, with a 66-47 win over Providence. The previous school record for consecutive home conference wins (31) was set from Dec. 12, 1998-Feb. 19, 2002 during the program’s BIG EAST membership.
Poise Under PressureNotre Dame has won its last 26 games decided by single digits and/or in overtime, including seven 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 56 of its last 58 (and 63 of its last 70) 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).