Notre Dame Takes on St. Mary's in NCAA First Round
Women's basketball makes fourth straight NCAA appearance.
March 10, 1999
(12) St. Mary's (26-6) vs. (5) Notre Dame (25-4)
NOTRE DAME FACES ST. MARY'S IN NCAA FIRST ROUND - Notre Dame (25-4) is making its fourth straight NCAA tournament appearance this evening when the fifth-seeded Irish face St. Mary's (Calif.) in first round action of the West Regional in Baton Rouge, La. This is highest a Notre Dame team has been seeded in the NCAA tournament and the first time it has been bracketed in the West Region. The Irish earned a sixth-seed in the East Region in 1997, the year they won that regional to advance to the school's first and only Final Four appearance.
This will be the first-ever meeting between the Irish and the Gaels. St. Mary's enters the contest with a 26-6 record and is making its first-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
Notre Dame, which has a 7-5 record in NCAA tournament competition, has advanced to the Sweet 16 each of the past two seasons. In 1997, the Irish won the East Regional championship to advance to the school's first-ever Final Four, and then last sesaon, Notre Dame defeated top-seeded Texas Tech in a Midwest Region second-round matchup in Lubbock, Texas.
Notre Dame will be playing for the second time ever in Baton Rouge. The Irish and Tigers have twice met (once on each other's home floor) with the series tied between the two schools 1-1. Notre Dame's only visit to Baton Rouge in the 22-year history of its women's basketball program occurred on March 2, 1992 as the host Tigers beat the Irish 72-62.
Coach Muffet McGraw's Irish enter the NCAA tournament having won 16 of its last 18 games. Notre Dame has only lost twice since the start of the new year.
McGraw led her squad to a third-place finish during the BIG EAST regular season, and for the third time in four years, Notre Dame was the runner-up at the BIG EAST tournament.
Notre Dame has lost only twice since the first of the year and has won 16 of their last 18 contests. In those16 victories, Notre Dame's average margin of victory is 27 points with the closest game, a nine-point win (81-72) over Pittsburgh. Notre Dame's only two losses during the streak were a 20-point (77-57) decision to Rutgers on the Scarlet Knights' home floor during the regular season and the 96-75 setback to Connecticut in the BIG EAST title game. The Irish avenged their loss to the Scarlet Knights with a 68-61 win in its semifinal matchup.
Notre Dame has been strong defensively of late as the Irish have held their opponents to 62 points or under in 12 of their last 14 games. While Notre Dame is averaging 81.7 ppg. in the last 14 outings, Irish opponents have averaged a mere 60.7 ppg.
Notre Dame's 25 wins marks the sixth straight year coach Muffet McGraw's squad has reached the 20-win mark. The Irish registered its 20th victory 22 games into the season (against Villanova on February 20) which marked the fastest a Notre Dame team has reached the 20-win mark in the 22-year history of the program.
Notre Dame Probable Starting Lineup
* - Indicates Monograms won
# - Injured (will not play) - Torn left ACL
* - Indicates Monograms won # - Injured (will not play) - Torn left ACL
SERIES RECORD VERSUS ST. MARY'S - This will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.
RILEY EARNS THIRD TEAM AP HONORS - Ruth Riley became the third Notre Dame women's basketball player to be recognized for Associated Press All-America honors when she was named to AP's third team. The 6-5 center is the first Irish player to earn a spot on one of the three teams. Katryna Gaither and Beth Morgan were honorable mention selections in both 1996 and 1997.
BIG EAST AWARDS BOUNTIFUL FOR IRISH - Notre Dame picked up its share of BIG EAST awards for its achievements during the regular-season and in the post-season tournament. Ruth Riley was named the league's Defense Player of the Year and was also a first-team all-BIG EAST selection. The sophomore center was the only unanimous selection to the first team. She became the first player since Katryna Gaither and Beth Morgan in 1997 to earn first-team honors. Senior Sheila McMillen was a second-team all-conference honoree, while Niele Ivey was selected to the third team. In the four years as a BIG EAST league member, this is the first time three players have earned all-conference honors in the same season.
Riley and McMillen also were named to the league's all-tournament team. Riley, who scored a game-high 26 points in the championship game versus the Huskies, averaged 15.0 points and 5.0 rebounds during the three games and shot a blistering 64.3 percent (18-28) from the field. McMillen, one of three players who averaged double figures during the championship, netted 13.7 ppg. and grabbed 5.0 rpg.
BIG EAST TOURNAMENT REVIEW -
Quarferfinal - Notre Dame 83, Villanova 53: Notre Dame used a balanced scoring attack as the Irish defeated Villanova 83-53 in the the quarterfinals. Only two Irish players finished in double figures, but 10 of 11 teams members scored in the in the contest. The Irish shot 55.0 percent from the field and committed a season-low 11 turnovers while outrebounding Villanova 42-26. Notre Dame was led by junior Niele Ivey who was perfect from the field going five-for-five, including three-for-three from behind the three-point arc. Ivey also was six-for-six from the free throw line finishing with 19 points in only 20 minutes. Freshman Sherisha Hills was the only other Irish player in double figures as she had 10 points. Seniors Sheila McMillen and Danielle Green and sophomore Ruth Riley scored nine points each. Green also finished with 12 rebounds.
Semifinal - Notre Dame 68, Rutgers 61: The Irish received 19 points from Sheila McMillen and 16 from Niele Ivey as Notre Dame posted a 68-61 over Rutgers to advance to the championship game. The win marked the first for the Irish in four meetings against the Scarlet Knights in Piscataway. Notre Dame shot 58.0 percent from the field in the first half racing out to a 43-28 lead at halftime. Ivey went down with a torn left ACL with just over 14 minutes remaining in the contest, and Rutgers made a run, but it was not enough as the Irish held on for the victory. McMillen connected on five three-pointers in the contest, while sophomore Ruth Riley scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds and contributed five blocks in the game to set the single-season Irish mark.
Championship - Connecticut 96, Notre Dame 75: For the third time in four seasons, the two teams squared off in the tournament championship. Notre Dame, 0-9 lifetime against the Huskies heading into the contest, lost for the 10th straight time to Connecticut. The Irish were without the services of point guard Niele Ivey who tore her left ACL in the Rutgers game. Ruth Riley socred a game-high 26 points as she hit 10-of-15 shots from the field, while Sheila McMillen had 13 points, and for the second straight game, played all 49 minutes of the contest. Connecticut shot 50.7 percent from the field and held the Irish to 42.4 percent shooting and forced 24 turnovers. For just the fifth time this season, and for the second straight game, Notre Dame was outrebounded in the contest as the Huskies held a 40-35 advantage on the boards. Four of Connecticut's five starters scored in double figures.
POLL WATCHING - Notre Dame is ranked eighth in the Associated Press and ninth in the USA Today/ESPN polls for the second consecutive week. The Irish have been ranked in the top 10 for a school-record 15 consecutive weeks. Prior to this season, the only other top 10 ranking for Notre Dame was in December of 1996 when the Irish were seventh in the AP Poll. The highest ranking ever for the Irish in the USA Today/ESPN Poll is fifth (the final poll following its appearance in the 1997 Final Four). The Irish began the season 17th in the AP ranking and 19th in the USA Today/ESPN Poll.
HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW - Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 12th season with the Irish and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to three straight NCAA tournament appearances and five overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Regional championship. In 1998, McGraw's squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In her 11-plus seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 260-109 (.705), and in 16-plus campaigns overall, her teams have registered a 348-150 (.698) ledger. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, she spent five seasons at Lehigh where she compiled an 88-41 record for a .683 winning percentage. Should the Irish advance to the second round against the winner of the LSU-Evansville matchup, McGraw would coach her 500th career game.
McGRAW EARNS 250TH CAREER WIN AT NOTRE DAME - Notre Dame's 99-60 victory over St. John's on January 23 gave Irish head coach Muffet McGraw her 250th win at the school. In 11-plus seasons her teams have won 20 or more games 10 times and have averaged 21.8 wins per season. The Irish, off to the best start in school history at 25-4, have posted 20-win seasons six consecutive years.
McGRAW NAMED FINALIST FOR NAISMITH WOMEN'S BASKETBALL COACH OF THE YEAR AWARD - Muffet McGraw has been named one of 15 finalists for the Naismith Women's Basketball Coach of the Year award sponsored by the Atlanta Tipoff Club. McGraw has guided the Irish to their best start in school history (25-4) as they have held a top 10 ranking in each of the two polls for a school-record 15 consecutive weeks.
McGRAW, RILEY FINALISTS FOR AP AWARDS - Muffet McGraw and Ruth Riley are one of 10 finalists for Associated Press Coach-of-the Year and Player-of-the Year. It marks the first in the program's history that a coach and player have been named finalists for this award. Katryna Gaither and Beth Morgan were both AP honorable mention all-America selections as juniors and seniors in 1996 and 1997.
YOU CAN'T SPELL CINDERELLA WITHOUT ND - For the past two NCAA tournaments in 1997 and 1998, Notre Dame has worn the crown of Cinderella. The Irish, a ninth-seed in last year's tournament, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second consecutive year after upsetting top-seeded Texas Tech (74-59) in Lubbock, Tex.
In 1997, Notre Dame advanced to the regional semifinals by winning a road game. The Irish defeated third-seed Texas (86-83) and was one of just two teams who did not host first/second round games to advance to the regional semifinals. Last season, the Irish were one of four teams to earn a spot in the Sweet 16 without playing an NCAA tournament home game. Notre Dame is the only team the past two years who has earned a regional spot without hosting first and second round contests.
When the Irish advanced to the Final Four in 1997, they became the third team in the history of the NCAA tournament to earn a spot without a top four seed. Notre Dame was the lowest seed ever to advance out of the East Regional.
SIX TIMES A RECORD HOLDER - Sheila McMillen has her named etched in the Notre Dame record books in five spots. The senior captain has set five Irish records this season - career games played (129), career three-point field goals made (243), career three-point field goals attempted (633), single-season three-point field goals made (92) and single-season three-point field goals attempted (230). Last season, in the first round of the BIG EAST championship, she set the Notre Dame single-game and league tournament record for three-point field goals made in a game (8).
McMILLEN DEADLY FROM THREE OF LATE - Senior guard Sheila McMillen scored 67.2 percent of her shots from three-point range this season and has hit a season-high six three-pointers in four games. In the last seven games, 29 of her last 35 field goals have been from three-point range.
IRISH NOTCH SIXTH STRAIGHT 20-WIN SEASON - Notre Dame's win over Villanova on February 10 gave Notre Dame its sixth straight 20-win campaign and marked the 10th time in the last 12 years under Irish head coach Muffet McGraw that it has reached that mark. This is the fastest a Notre Dame team has reached the 20-win mark in the 22-year history of the program. Irish teams have won 20 or more games in 14 of 22 seasons.
BIG WINS FOR THE IRISH - In 10 of its last 14 outings, Notre Dame has posted wins of 22 or more points. Before its 15-point win over Boston College on February 3, Notre Dame's four previous victories had been by 30-plus points. Prior to the contest, its average margin of victory had been 37.5 points per game.
IRISH PUT UP BIG NUMBERS AT HOME - Notre Dame went over the century mark for the second time this season in its 111-90 victory over West Virginia on January 7. It was the most points ever scored by the Irish in a BIG EAST game and the second most in school history. The 111 points were the most by a Notre Dame team at the Joyce Center. Notre Dame went over the 100-point mark earlier this season with its 101-92 victory over Illinois. It is the first time in the 22-year history of the program that an Irish team has topped the 100-point mark twice in a season.
NOTRE DAME MAKES ANOTHER RUN INTO MARCH MADNESS - Under Muffet McGraw, the Irish have had a habit of finishing the season strong. Since McGraw's first season in 1987-88, Notre Dame has compiled a 39-21 (.650) mark in March, including an incredible 26-8 (76.5 percent) regular season March record. In addition, in each of McGraw's 12 seasons, Notre Dame has ended the season on a roll. Below is a look at Notre Dame's March record in the McGraw era as well as the way the Irish ended the season.
BENCHMARK FOR THE IRISH - Notre Dame's 25-4 start through 29 games is the best start ever by an Irish women's basketball team. The '77-'78 team was 13-2 before losing its third game in the 16th game of the season and finished with a 13-4 record in the first year of varsity women's basketball at the school.
NOTRE DAME GETS 400TH WIN IN PROGRAM'S HISTORY - Notre Dame's victory over UCLA in the season opener marked the 400th in the program's history since the inaugural season in 1977-78. In the 21-plus seasons, Irish teams have compiled a 424-208 mark for a 67.1 winning percentage and have averaged 19.8 victories since the program's first campaign.
NOTRE DAME UNDEFEATED AGAINST NON-LEAGUE FOES - Notre Dame finished with a perfect 8-0 mark against non-league foes as it faced teams from seven different conferences. The Irish played two teams from the Big Ten (Illinois and Michigan State) and then had games against six other conference teams - Pac-10 (UCLA), Midwestern Collegiate (Butler), Atlantic Coast (Duke), West Coast (San Francisco), Mid-American (Toledo) and Conference USA (South Florida).
POINT PILE UP AT HOME - Notre Dame's 63 points against Villanova on December 12 are the fewest scored by the Irish in any home contest this season. Coach Muffet McGraw's Irish had put up some big numbers in its first four home games as they averaged 91.5 ppg. (366 points). Notre Dame scored 99 points in the season opener against UCLA and went over the century mark for the first and only time this season in scoring 101 points against Illinois on November 24. The Irish are averaging 86.2 ppg. (1,121 points) in 13 home contests and have scored 99 or more points on four occasions. In the 16 road games it has played, Notre Dame is averaging 79.1 ppg. (1,266 points).
IRISH NOTCH 12TH WIN AT HOME - Notre Dame's win over Miami on Tuesday night was the 12th in 13 games for the Irish at home this season. The 12 home wins equal the school mark set last season. It also marks the fourth straight campaign in which Notre Dame has won 10 or more games at home. In the 22 seasons they have been playing at the Joyce Center, the Irish have had 10 or more victories on nine occasions. Last season, McGraw's squad also posted a 12-1 home record.
NOTRE DAME 13-3 ON THE ROAD - Three of Notre Dame's four losses this season have come on the road. Prior to the 77-57 setback to Rutgers on February 13, Notre Dame had won six straight road games; its last loss was at Boston College (78-65) on December 30. Notre Dame is 12-2 in natural road games and 1-1 in neutral contests this season. The most natural road wins by an Irish team in a season is 13. The Irish accomplished that two years ago when they were 13-4 in road games during the 1996-97 campaign. That was the season in which Notre Dame won a school-record 31 games en route to a 31-7 campaign. Coach Muffet McGraw's squad was 11-1 in home game during the campaign and 7-2 in neutral game contests.
RILEY OWNS CAREER BLOCKED SHOTS RECORD - Sophomore center Ruth Riley should own plenty of records by the time the 6-5 center completes her Irish career. She already holds the career shot blocks record with 168 (2.8 per game) and also owns the single-season mark with 97 in 1998-99. She eclipsed the mark of 94 set by Shari Matvey during the 1979-80 season. Riley's 97 blocks are 30 more than Irish opponents combined.
GREEN RESPONDS - Senior Danielle Green returned to the starting lineup against West Virginia after missing Notre Dame's previous game against Syracuse with a sprained shoulder. She showed no signs of being bothered by the injury against the Mountaineers as she scored 12 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for her sixth double-double of the season and seventh of her career.
SIX IRISH PLAYERS IN DOUBLE FIGURES AGAINST ST. JOHN'S - For the first and only time this season, Notre Dame had six players in double figures when the Irish beat St. John's 99-60 on January 23. Danielle Green and Sheila McMillen each scored 20 points each, while freshman Ericka Haney notched a career-high 16 points. Ruth Riley and Sherisha Hills each chipped in 13 points, and Niele Ivey rounded out the double-figure scoring with a 12-point effort.
HILLS GETS FIRST CAREER START IN SYRACUSE - Freshman Sherisha Hills earned her first career start in the Syracuse game on February 17. She started in place of Danielle Green who did not play because of an injury (sprained shoulder) suffered in the Rutgers game. Hills responded with nine points and four rebounds while playing a career-high 33 minutes. It was the first change in the starting lineup this season. Prior to Green's injury, Muffett McGraw had gone with the same staring five - Kelley Siemon, Ruth Riley, Danielle Green, Sheila McMillen and Niele Ivey for the first 23 games of the 1998-99 campaign. Hills also started against Connecticut in the championship game of the BIG EAST tournament, replacing Niele Ivey who is out with a torn ACL.
HANEY LIGHTS IT UP AGAINST ORANGEWOMEN AND MOUNTAINEERS - Freshman Ericka Haney averaged 13.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in wins over Syracuse and West Virginia last week. For Haney, who has had four double-figure scoring efforts this season, it marked the first time this season that she registered double figures in back-to-back games. She netted double figures for the first time in her career against St. John's on January 23 as she scored 16 points, while also grabbing a career-high nine rebounds, and registered her second double-digit scoring effort versus Seton Hall on February 6 to finish as the team's second-leading scorer with 14 points on seven-of-10 shooting from the field. Haney currently is averaging 6.1points and 4.2 rebounds.
IVEY HAS FOUR CAREER DOUBLE-DOUBLES - Niele Ivey recorded double figures in both scoring and assists in four games this season. Her most recent double-double was against Seton Hall on February 6 when she scored 15 points and dished off 11 assists. She registered back-to-back double-doubles in the West Virginia (Jan. 7) and Providence (Jan. 12) contests. Ivey scored 12 points and dished off 11 assists (tying a career-high) in Notre Dame's win over the Mountaineers. She followed that up with 10 points and 10 assists against the Friars. Ivey registered her first career double-double when she scored a personal best 25 points and dished off 11 assists in the season opener against UCLA.
GREEN NETS CAREER-HIGH AGAINST MOUNTAINEERS - Danielle Green had one of her most impressive career outings in Notre Dame's win over West Virginia on January 7 (first meeting against the Mountaineers) as she scored a career-high 28 points, connecting on 11-of-17 shots from the field. Green scored in double figures in the first 13 games of the season before her seven-point performance against Providence on January 10th. She has been in double figure scoring in 22 of the 28 games she has played. Green has scored 20-plus points in five games this season after opening up the 1998-99 campaign with three consecutive 20-plus point outings. Her most recent 20-point outing was against St. John's on January 23 when she tied teammate Sheila McMillen for game-high scoring honors as both tossed in 20 points.
SIEMON NETS SEASON-HIGH - Kelley Siemon scored in double figures for the third time this season as she netted a season-high 11 points in Notre Dame's win at West Virginia. She hit four-of-five field goals from the field and was three-of-three from the free throw line. Siemon is averaging 5.5 points and is the team's third-leading rebounder at 5.0 rpg.
SIEMON GRABS 10 REBOUNDS AGAINST ORGANGEWOMEN - Kelley Siemon's game-high 10 rebounds against Syracuse on February 17 marked the first time this season, and the third time in her career, that she had 10-plus rebounds in a game.
McMILLEN HAS 10 20-POINT SHOWINGS THIS SEASON - Sheila McMillen has had seven 20-point outings in Notre Dame's last 18 games. Her most recent 20-point outing was against West Virginia on February 20 when she scored 25 points (one below the season-high 26 points she netted against the Mountaineers earlier in the season). McMillen, who has 10 20-point performances this season is averaging 16.2 pgg. (292 points) in her last 18 games and has hit 86-213 (40.4%) from the field and is 67-161 (41.6%) from three-point range. McMillen scored a season-high 26 points in Notre Dame's win against West Virginia on January 7.
McMILLEN HAS THE TOUCH - Senior guard Sheila McMillen was a big offensive threat for the Irish in their wins over Georgetown and West Virginia earlier this season as she registered back-to-back 20-point outings, including a season-high 26 points against the Mountaineers. In a 31-point win over Georgetown on the road, McMillen also netted 22 points. In those two games she was 16-of-29 (55.2%) from the field and 11-of-21 (52.4%) from three-point range. Her six three-pointers against the Hoyas marked a season-high. In those two outings, McMillen averaged 24.0 points and 7.5 rebounds. She also tied her career-best with eight rebounds against West Virginia on that day.
A PERFECT DAY - In scoring 13 points in Notre Dame's win over Georgetown on January 2, Ruth Riley was a perfect four-for-four from the field and five-for five from the free throw line. Riley, who is second nationally in field goal percentage at 67.1 percent accuracy, is 85-for-114 (74.6%) from the field in Notre Dame's last 12 games and 52-72 (72.2%) from the free throw line.
IVEY ALSO HAS PERFECT DAY - Junior Niele Ivey had her own perfect night last night against Villanova as she was 5-for-5 from the field, including 3-for-3 from three-point land. Ivey also converted from the charity stripe as she was 6-for-6 giving her 19 points on the night in only 20 minutes of action.
DAILY DOUBLES FOR RUTH AND DANIELLE - Ruth Riley leads Notre Dame and the BIG EAST with 11 double doubles this season (20 for her career). Her most recent was against Miami on Tuesday night when she scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Riley's other double-double performances this season have been against Duke (20 points, 18 rebounds), Illinois (21 points, 12 rebounds), Toledo (15 points, 17 rebounds), Villanova (13 points, 10 rebounds) and (23 points, 11 rebounds), Michigan State (18 points, 12 rebounds), Boston College (22 points, 11 rebounds), Providence (36 points, 13 rebounds) and (46 points, 13 rebounds) and Rutgers (12 points, 10 rebounds). Danielle Green registered her sixth double-double of the season (and seventh of her career) in Notre Dame's win over West Virginia on February 20. In the contest, she had 12 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Her other double-double efforts of the season were against Duke (20 points, 15 rebounds), Toledo (12 points, 13 rebounds), Michigan State (16 points, 10 rebounds), Seton Hall (15 points, 13 rebounds) and Boston College (14 points, 11 rebounds).
COUNTING ON DANIELLE - Danielle Green hit the game-winning shot against Villanova with 9.8 seconds remaining in the contest. It marked the first game-winning shot of her career. Green was the only Irish player to score in double figures in the first 13 games of the season. She is Notre Dame's third-leading scorer (14.3 ppg.) and second-leading rebounder (7.4 rpg.).
McMILLEN MOVES UP SCORING CHART - Senior guard Sheila McMillen is sixth on the all-time Notre Dame career scoring list with 1,415 points. McMillen became the 14th Irish women's basketball player to reach the 1,000-point mark this season. She has a 11.0 career scoring average and has started 67 of the 129 games she has played in three-plus seasons. Currently, McMillen is second on the team with a 15.6 scoring average. McMillen's next target is Sandy Botham (1985-88), who finished her Irish career with 1,460 points, good for fifth place on the career scoring list.
McMILLEN BREAKS IRISH GAMES PLAYED MARK TONIGHT - Sheila McMillen will play in her 130th career game this evening which is the most by any Notre Dame player. She eclipsed the mark of 128 held by Katryna Gaither (1993-97) and Mollie Peirick (1994-98).
BIG CROWDS - Notre Dame averaged 2,996 fans at Joyce Center home games this season. The crowd of 6,384 which saw the Irish defeat St. John's on January 23 was the third largest in Notre Dame history. Prior to that game, the largest crowd of the campaign was a count of 5,102 when coach Muffet McGraw's squad faced the then number-one ranked Connecticut Huskies on December 8. Notre Dame had its second-largest crowd of the season against Seton Hall Saturday with 5,231 in attendance.
HELPING PUT THE BIG IN THE BIG EAST - During its three-plus seasons as a member of the BIG EAST Conference, Notre Dame has proven to be one of the league's most dominant teams. The Irish have a 59-13 record (81.9 percent) in regular season games and 8-4 mark (66.7 percent) in BIG EAST tournament action for an overall record of 67-17 (79.8 percent) against league opponents. Of Notre Dame's 17 total league losses, 10 have come against Connecticut. The Irish have lost to four other teams in the BIG EAST - Rutgers (three times), Boston College (twice), Villanova and Miami. All four of those games have been on the road.
FOUR BIG EAST TEAMS IN NCAA TOURNAMENT - For the second time in BIG EAST Conference history, four teams are playing in the NCAA tournament - Notre Dame, Connecticut, Rutgers and Boston College. Last season, the Irish, Huskies and Scarlet Knights all earned berths, along with Miami. Three teams - Notre Dame, Connecticut and Rutgers - all advanced to the field of 16 in 1998. The Irish are making their fourth straight appearance and sixth overall, Connecticut is playing in its 11th straight tournament, while Rutgers is making its 11th appearance overall.
IRISH TOUGH AT HOME AGAINST BIG EAST FOES - Notre Dame has compiled a 34-3 (.919) record against BIG EAST opponents at the Joyce Center since joining the league in 1995-96. The only three losses have been to Connecticut. Notre Dame was a perfect 9-0 at home in league action during the 1996-97 season.
THE CAPTAIN - Sheila McMillen is Notre Dame's captain this season. This is the first time since 1981-82, and the second time in the program's history that the Irish have had just one player serve as a captain during the course of the season. The only other lone captain during a basketball season was Missy Conboy, now an associate athletic director at Notre Dame.
IRISH 5-3 AGAINST RANKED FOES - Notre Dame has five wins over ranked opponents this season and was 4-2 against those foes during the regular season. The four regular-season victories are the most by an Irish team during the regular season. Coach Muffet McGraw's squad has posted victories over UCLA and Duke when both teams were ranked sixth in the polls, had a win over then 25th-ranked Illinois, beat 20th-ranked Boston College and seventh-ranked Rutgers in the semifinals of the BIG EAST tournament last Wednesday night. Last season, Notre Dame was 0-5 in the regular season versus ranked opponents until its second round win in the NCAA tournament versus Texas Tech (ranked sixth at the time of the game).
BIG NUMBERS IN SEASON OPENER - Notre Dame's 99 points were the second most in a season opener (the most was 113 versus Liberty on November 24, 1989) and most by a Notre Dame team in a season opener at the Joyce Center.
HILLS HAS SUCCESSFUL HOMECOMING - Freshman Sherisha Hills returned to her hometown of Tampa, Fla. when the Irish played against South Florida. In leading Notre Dame to an 83-63 victory, Hills shot a season-high 30 points, scored 15 points (one point shy of her personal best) as she hit five-of-nine shots from the field, including a four-for-eight performance from three-point range. In addition, she grabbed a career-high eight rebounds. Hills is the team's fifth-leading scorer averaging 7.3 points per game. She earned BIG EAST co-Rookie of the Week honors earlier this season and has scored in double figures in six games this season, netting a career-high 16 points coming off the bench in Notre Dame's wins at San Francisco and Seton Hall.
IRISH IN THE JOYCE CENTER - Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 196-65 mark for a .751 winning percentage since that first season. Last season, Notre Dame won a school-record 12 games at home en route to a 12-1 record. Prior to the loss to Connecticut, Notre Dame had tied a school record with 15 straight victories at home. The last loss at home prior to the one on December 8 was against Connecticut on December 6, 1997. Ironically, it was Connecticut who stopped Notre Dame's 15-game home winning streak two years ago.
BALANCED SCORING ATTACK - Four players are averaging double figures in scoring for the Irish this season. Ruth Riley (16.5 ppg.), followed by Sheila McMillen (15.6), Danielle Green (14.3 ppg.) and Niele Ivey (13.2 ppg.). Notre Dame had six players in double figures against St. John's, and in four other games this season, had five players in double-figure scoring. Against Illinois and West Virginia, three Irish players ended up with 20 or more points.
WITH THE STUFF - Notre Dame has 156 blocks on the season in 29 games (5.4 per game), while its opponents have just 67. Ruth Riley leads the Irish with 97 blocks (3.34) and had a career-high eight blocks against Duke on November 21. The eight blocks tied the school mark set by Shari Matvey against Wisconsin-LaCrosse on March 15, 1980. The single-season team mark for blocks is 178 set during the 1979-80 campaign.
DOMINATION ON THE BOARDS - Notre Dame is outrebounding its opponents by a 10.3 margin this season. The Irish were most dominant against Duke as they outrebounded the Blue Devils 67-34, and were just seven rebounds away from tying the school record of 74 set against IUPUI-Fort Wayne on January 24, 1978. Ruth Riley and Danielle Green combined for 33 of those 67 rebounds as Riley finished with a career-high 18 boards, while Green also established a personal best with 15. Riley leads the team with 8.4 rpg., and Green is second in the rebounding column with an 7.4 average. Notre Dame is averaging 44.5 rebounds per game and has only been outrebounded in five games this season (UCLA, Boston College, Syracuse, Rutgers and Connecticut).
POINTS A PLENTY - Notre Dame is averaging 82.3 points in 29 games and is outscoring its opponents by an 16.8 margin as it has yielded opponents 65.5 ppg. Last season, Notre Dame averaged 74.2 points per game. Notre Dame outscored the three ranked opponents it played in the first three home games of the season - UCLA, Duke and Illinois - by 17.7 ppg.
OVER THE CENTURY MARK - Notre Dame scored 100-plus points for the second time this season in its 111-90 victory over West Virginia. The Irish went over the century mark in the fourth game of the season when they beat Illinois 101-92. During Irish head coach Muffet McGraw's tenure, Notre Dame has hit the century mark seven times. The 111 points represented the second most ever scored by a Notre Dame women's basketball team and the most ever for an Irish squad at the Joyce Center.
ELITE COMPANY - Notre Dame was one of just nine schools to advance to the Sweet 16 in both 1997 and 1998. The eight other schools on the short list included: Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana Tech, North Carolina, Old Dominion and Tennessee. The Irish also were one of 29 teams to earn an NCAA tournament bid each of the last three seasons.
IRISH SCORE HIGH MARKS IN THE CLASSROOM - The Notre Dame women's basketball team earned a 3.091 cumulative grade point average for the fall semester with four players named to the Dean's List - Diana Braendly (3.917), Danielle Green (3.834), Sheila McMillen (3.500) and Ruth Riley (3.619). Riley has been on the Dean's List all three of her semesters at Notre Dame.
RILEY STARS FOR U.S. SELECT TEAM - Ruth Riley starred for the 1998 USA Women's Select Team over the summer. The team compiled an eight-game, 15-day tour of Puerto Rico, Poland and Spain and finished with a 7-1 mark. Riley was the team's second-leading scorer and top rebounder with averages of 10.3 ppg. and 7.6 rpg. She registered two double-doubles in the seven games and recorded bests of 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 72-70 victory over Puerto Rico. Riley led the team once and in rebounding on four occasions.
PRESEASON HONORS FOR RILEY AND McMILLEN - The names of Ruth Riley and Sheila McMillen appear on preseason All-America teams of several publications. Notre Dame also is ranked in the polls of every preseason publication.
Street & Smith's: Ruth Riley - First Team; Sheila McMillen - High Honorable
Mention; Notre Dame - 24th
MIMI GRIFFIN ON RUTH RILEY - ESPN women's basketball analyst Mimi Griffin rated Ruth Riley one of the top five centers nationally. Griffin picked the top five players at each position. In addition to Riley, mentioned among Griffin's list of top five centers were Demya Walker (Virginia), Maylana Martin (UCLA), Paige Sauer (Connecticut) and Angie Braziel (Texas Tech).
IRISH SIGN THREE RECRUITS - Irish head coach Muffet McGraw signed three players to national letters of intent during the early signing period. Set to join the Irish in the fall of 1999 are Alicia Ratay, a 5-11 guard from Lake Zurich, Ill.; 6-3 forward Amanda Barksdale from Friendswood, Tex.; and Monique Hernandez, a 5-9 guard out of Rio Rancho, N.M. All three players are ranked in the top 100 by Blue Star Basketball. Ratay, who led the U.S. Youth World Games team to a bronze medal during the summer, is eighth, while Barksdale is rated 41st and Hernandez 98th.
McMILLEN NAMED TO ALL-AMERICAN FARM BASKETBALL TEAM - Notre Dame guard Sheila McMillen has been named to the Successful Farming All-American basketball team. Five players were chosen to the women's team. Notre Dame will receive a $500 scholarship check on Sheila's behalf. McMillen, who grew up on a farm in Rochester, Ind., is the second Irish athlete honored by the magazine. Irish punter Hunter Smith was selected to the football team in 1997.
IRISH IN THE NCAA STATISTICS -
Ruth Riley - 1st in field goal percentage (67.6); 3rd in blocked shots (3.4)
Niele Ivey - 14th in assists (6.5); 10th in free throw percentage (87.0); 12th in field goal percentage (44.8)
Sheila McMillen - 3rd in three-point field goals made (3.2); 11th in free throw percentage (86.8)
Team - 4rd in rebounding margin (10.3); 9th in scoring offense (82.3); 6th in won-lost percentage (86.2); 7th in scoring margin (16.8); 13th in field goal percentage defense (37.0); 14th in three-point field goal percentage (37.6)
ASSOCIATED PRESS (Week of Mar. 8)
USA TODAY/ESPN (Week of Mar. 8)
Irish All-Time vs. 1998-99 Opponents
NOTRE DAME POLL WATCHING
(Week By Week)
Series Record vs. Evansville
* -MCC Tournament
* -MCC Tournament
On Saturdays: 11-1
By Halftime Score
By Rebound Margin
By Field Goal Shooting
By Free Throw Margin
21-30 point games: 7-2
Conference USA 1-0
In March 1-1
1998-99 BIG EAST STANDINGS (through games of Mar. 2)
Player of the Week:
BIG EAST Player of the Year:
BIG EAST Rookie of the Year:
BIG EAST Coach of the Year:
BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year:
BIG EAST Most Improved :
BIG EAST Most Improved Player:
Target/BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year:
ALL-BIG EAST First Team
Shawnetta Stewart - Rutgers
ALL-BIG EAST Second Team
Tomora Young - Rutgers
ALL-BIG EAST Third Team
Tammy Sutton-Brown - Rutgers
ALL-BIG EAST Rookie Team
Tamika Williams - Connecticut*
BIG EAST All-Tournament Team
Sheila McMillen - Notre Dame
Most Oustanding Player:
Current Notre Dame Players Career Statistics in the NCAA Tournament