Feb. 22, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
Thursday may not be the last time Irish fans get to see seniors Lindsay Allen and Diamond Thompson play at Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame (25-3, 13-1) will play host to No. 8/11 Florida State on Sunday afternoon in a winner-takes-all contest for the ACC regular season. The Irish, ranked No. 5 by the AP and No. 4 by the coaches, are also expected to play host to the first weekend of the NCAA Championship from March 17-20.
However, Thursday night is the night to celebrate the impressive achievements of Allen and Thompson as the Irish play host to Boston College at 7 p.m. on ACC Network Extra. The duo have been a part of a Notre Dame program that has gone 131-9 over their careers, including two Final Fours, three outright ACC regular season titles and three ACC Tournament titles.
The pregame ceremony will begin at 6:41 p.m. so fans are encouraged to be in their seats by that time.
Here is some more information about the game:
About the Eagles
Boston College stands at 9-18 on the year and 2-12 in ACC play heading into Thursday night's matchup. The Eagles are unquestionably led by Mariella Fasoula. The 6-foot-4 Greek is topping the team with 15.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds per game and 31 total blocks. Kelly Hughes (11.3) is the only other Eagle to average in double digits for scoring. Erik Johnson is in his fourth season as head coach at the Heights. Her previously served as head coach at Denver from 2008-12.
Notre Dame leads the all-time series between the "Power 5's" only two Catholic schools, 19-5. The Irish have won each of the last nine meetings between the foes, marking the longest winning streak in the series. Boston College is one of Notre Dame's two ACC "crossover" opponents (along with Georgia Tech) where the teams annually play a home-and-home series as opposed to just a single contest yearly.
Despite being members of two conferences together, the BIG EAST and the ACC, the teams have met once in postseason play and that was not in a conference tournament. The Eagles bested the Irish, 78-61, in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Championship at Purdue's Mackey Arena. Four of Boston College's five wins over the Irish have come in Chestnut Hill with the other being the NCAA Championship meeting in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Eagles have yet to win a game at Notre Dame in 11 tries.
On Jan. 19 in Chestnut Hill, Notre Dame claimed an 80-69 win over the Eagles. Marina Mabrey had 21 points, connecting on 8-of-10 from the floor, while Brianna Turner chipped in 19 points with eight rebounds, four steals and three blocked shots. The Irish did have trouble limiting Fasoula as Boston College's center poured in 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds with six assists and four steals.
Mabrey Named ACC Player of the Week
Following her third consecutive 20-point game, sophomore Marina Mabrey was named the ACC's Player of the Week on Monday for her role in lifting the fifth-ranked Irish to a pair of road wins this week -- in the process reassuming sole possession of first place in the elite conference.
Mabrey averaged 25.5 points in victories at Clemson and No. 21 Syracuse, shooting 62% from the floor, 55% from three and 93% from the foul line.
On Thursday night at Clemson, Mabrey scored a career-high 29 points, 24 of them coming in the second half, to help Notre Dame dodge an upset. The New Jersey native shot 11-of-16 (69%) against the Tigers from the floor and hit all four of her foul shots.
On Sunday at No. 21 Syracuse, Mabrey kept Notre Dame in the game with 13 first quarter points while the Irish weathered a ferocious early Orange onslaught before a women's record crowd at the Carrier Dome. She made nine of 10 free throws against the Orange including a crucial pair with 10 seconds to go and the Irish up just 81-80.
For the season, Mabrey leads the Irish with 16.1 points per game in ACC play and stands third on the team with 14.3 points per game for the whole season. She has six 20-point games in league play, including a trio of games where she has netted at least 25 points. Mabrey also has 38 assists in league play (2.7 per game), second on the Irish behind just Lindsay Allen.
Irish In Drivers Seat For Historic ACC Repeat
The Irish are back into sole possession of first place in the ACC standings and in position to extend a couple of historic championship streaks.
"I think we've put ourselves in a really good spot," Karen and Kevin Keyes Family Head Women's Basketball Coach Muffet McGraw said. "This is where we want to be -- in control of our own destiny. We've been here every year (in the ACC). We should be very comfortable in this position but we've got to take care of business starting tomorrow. We can't look ahead to Sunday. Senior Night is always emotional. You never know what's going to happen so I think it's important that we really play well."
The Irish are vying for their fourth consecutive outright ACC regular season and tournament championships, a feat only previously accomplished by Duke from 2001-04. Including the final days of BIG EAST membership, Notre Dame is looking for six straight outright regular season conference championships overall and five consecutive conference tournament championships.
Looking at the handful of others to accomplish these feats:
4x OUTRIGHT ACC REGULAR SEASON & TOURNAMENT CHAMPS
FOUR STRAIGHT OUTRIGHT ACC REGULAR SEASON CHAMPS
FOUR STRAIGHT ACC TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONSHIPS
North Carolina (2005-08)
2012-16 OUTRIGHT REGULAR SEASON CONFERENCE CHAMPS
Notre Dame (BIG EAST and ACC)
Florida Gulf Coast (Atlantic Sun) Green Bay (Horizon)
2013-16 CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT CHAMPIONS
Notre Dame (BIG EAST and ACC)
Albany (America East)
Baylor (Big 12)
Nelson Expected to Return in 2017-18
There are three seniors listed on the roster, but only two will be recognized on Thursday night as a part of Senior Night. Pending approval of the Faculty Board on Athletics, Muffet McGraw announced Monday night on her weekly radio show that senior Kristina Nelson is expected to return to the program next season and compete as a graduate student in her fifth season of eligibility. Nelson sat out the 2014-15 season while recovering from shoulder surgery.
Nelson has played in 27 of the team's 28 games this season for a career-high total of 308 minutes (11.4 per game). Nelson has scored 104 points (3.9 per game) and grabbed 83 rebounds (3.1 per game) on the season - both career highs as well. Nelson's contributions off of the bench have helped lift the Irish to their lofty 25-3 overall record and 13-1 mark in ACC play. She was most recently called upon critically for a 21-minute, eight-point stint in relief of foul trouble-saddled Brianna Turner on Thursday night as the Irish staved off a fierce upset attempt on the road at Clemson.
Often referred to by McGraw during preseason as one of the team's most improved players during the offseason, Nelson started the season with eight points and a career-high nine-rebound performance on opening night against Central Michigan on Nov. 11. She has been a lineup regular ever since, including pouring in a career-high 13 points against Pittsburgh on Jan. 12. Nelson showed her ability to pass out of her post position against Wake Forest on Jan. 5 when she had a career-high five assists, joining six points and six rebounds, in an Irish win over the Demon Deacons.
How to Watch/Listen
The first official steps towards the creation of an ACC Network began this summer in conjunction with ESPN. All non-televised home games which used to be streamed live online through WatchND (including Thursday's) will now be streamed under the banner of ACC Network Extra. Games are available online at WatchESPN.com (formerly branded as ESPN3) or through the WatchESPN app. Streams are free to all ESPN subscribers. Thursday evening's game will feature audio from Bob Nagle's radio call.
Information on how to access WatchESPN is available here.
For those familiar with the WatchESPN, the direct link to the webcast of the Boston College game is available here.
Bob Nagle is in his 12th season as the radio voice of the Irish. Notre Dame's local home on the radio is Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) while the audio is also available globally via WatchND.tv and the WatchND app. The audio link for the broadcast is here.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications associate director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame's women's basketball and men's golf teams. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.