Nov. 8, 2013
2013-14 ND Women's Basketball: Game 1
#6/7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (0-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. UNC Wilmington Seahawks (0-0 / 0-0 CAA)
DATE: Nov. 9, 2013
TIME: 1:00 p.m. ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: First meeting
TV: WatchND (live) (Ryan Camden, p-b-p / Gary Paczesny, color)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TEXT ALERT: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356 / UND.com/buytickets
StorylinesNotre Dame is 28-8 (.778) all-time in season openers and carries an 18-game winning streak on opening day into Saturday's lidlifter against UNC Wilmington.
The Fighting Irish are 56-7 (.889) against first-time opponents since 1995-96, including an active 28-game winning streak at home against new foes during that span.
No. 6/7 Fighting Irish Tip Off Season Saturday Against UNC Wilmington
With a blend of experienced veterans and young talent, No. 6/7 Notre Dame gets set to tip off its 37th season of varsity competition at 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday when it plays host to UNC Wilmington at Purcell Pavilion. The first-ever meeting between the Fighting Irish and Seahawks will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
The Fighting Irish are coming off a sharp 118-49 win over Division II member California (Pa.) in their lone exhibition game on Oct. 30 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame shot a blistering .618 from the field (including .722 in the first half) en route to its highest scoring output ever in a preseason contest.
Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd and freshman forward Taya Reimer each scored a game-high 27 points for the Fighting Irish, with Reimer going a perfect 11-for-11 from the floor and 5-for-5 from the foul line in 20 minutes of action.
RankingsNotre Dame is No. 6 in the preseason Associated Press poll and No. 7 in the preseason WBCA/USA Today poll.
UNC Wilmington is not ranked.
Quick HittersThis year's No. 6 ranking in the AP poll represents the 14th time in the past 15 years (starting with the 1999-2000 campaign) Notre Dame has appeared in the preseason media poll, something only seven schools in the nation have done -- Connecticut, Duke and Tennessee have shown up in all 15 during that span, while Georgia, Oklahoma and Stanford join the Fighting Irish with 14 preseason AP poll berths.
With their No. 7 ranking, this marks the fifth consecutive season the Fighting Irish have appeared in the preseason WBCA-USA Today poll, as well as the fourth time in five years Notre Dame has opened the season ranked in the top 10 in both national polls.
Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 117 consecutive weeks (including the past 47 weeks in the AP Top 10), extending a program record that dates back to the 2007-08 preseason poll, and ranking sixth in the nation among active AP poll appearances. What's more, every current Fighting Irish player has competed for a ranked Notre Dame squad during her career, with the vast majority of that time (67 of 78 weeks) spent in the AP Top 10.
Senior forwards Natalie Achonwa and Ariel Braker, and senior guard Kayla McBride have helped Notre Dame to a 101-14 (.878) record in their three-year careers, far and away the most victories by a Fighting Irish class in its first three seasons, outdistancing last year's senior class of Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner, who helped Notre Dame to 95 wins through the end of their junior seasons.
In their first three seasons, Achonwa, Braker and McBride have paced Notre Dame to two NCAA national championship games and three NCAA Women's Final Fours (plus two BIG EAST regular-season titles and the 2013 BIG EAST Championship crown), as well as a 31-13 record against ranked teams (16-11 against AP Top 10).
Of the 14 losses suffered by the current Fighting Irish senior class, eight were decided by single digits (and three others by 10-13 points).
Notre Dame aims to continue its remarkable success at Purcell Pavilion, with the Fighting Irish owning a 384-90 (.810) all-time record in 36 seasons at the facility, including a 61-5 (.924) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
With 626 victories in her 27 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).
McGraw needs 25 victories to move into the top 10 on the NCAA Division I career wins list. She currently stands 12th behind two former ACC coaches -- Virginia's Debbie Ryan (739) and the late North Carolina State coach Kay Yow (737).
Other Notre Dame NotablesNotre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 18 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking fourth with 444 victories.
Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past four years), most recently placing fifth in the nation last season with a school-record 8,979 fans per game, topping the previous year's mark (8,571) and setting a new school record for the fourth year in a row. The Fighting Irish also have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 190 of their last 192 home games (including an active streak of 33 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 36 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 30 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign. Notre Dame also had a school-record 11 sellouts last year, including nine of its final 10 contests at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as 10 Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 13 seasons. Skylar Diggins was the most recent Fighting Irish player to be chosen, going to the Tulsa Shock in the first round (third overall pick) of the 2013 WNBA Draft. It marked the second consecutive year Notre Dame had a player selected No. 3 overall (Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota in 2012), making the Fighting Irish just the second program to field lottery choices in consecutive seasons.
Peters went on to earn her first WNBA Championship with the Lynx (and fifth by a Notre Dame alum, who defeated the Atlanta Dream (and former Fighting Irish All-American Ruth Riley) in the WNBA Finals. Riley previously had won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), while Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets, while Jacqueline Batteast was Riley's teammate on the 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit.
For the seventh year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October. What's more, Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous six years to record a 100-percent GSR and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it twice, pulling off that feat in 2011 and 2012).
Scouting UNC Wilmington
They often say you can't tell the players without a program, but in the case of UNC Wilmington, that might actually be the case, as the Seahawks have seven newcomers among the nine active players on their roster this season (three others are sitting out as transfers).
UNCW also brings back one starter from last year's club that went 5-26 overall, including a 3-15 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). However, the Seahawks won two of their final three games to close the campaign, including a win over George Mason in the first round of the CAA Tournament, giving hope for the future along the North Carolina coast.
Like Notre Dame, UNCW played just one exhibition game this fall, with the Seahawks dropping a 64-60 decision to Division II UNC Pembroke on Monday night in Wilmington. With its revamped roster, UNCW struggled to find its shooting touch, connecting at a .284 clip for the contest, including a 6-for-32 mark from beyond the three-point line, but the Seahawks put together a spirited effort to come back from 17 points down in the second half and regain the lead before Pembroke pulled ahead late for the win.
Freshman guard Brie Mobley set the pace for UNC Wilmington with a double-double in her college debut, tallying 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Junior guard Kelva Atkins, a preseason All-CAA selection and the lone returning starter, added 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists, while freshman Amber Reeves also chipped in 13 points for the hosts.
Head coach Adell Harris is in her second season at UNCW following a successful three-year run at Division II member Tusculum College. She has a 66-56 (.541) career record in four seasons on the sidelines, with Saturday marking her first-ever matchup against Notre Dame.
The Notre Dame-UNC Wilmington Series
Notre Dame and UNC Wilmington will meet for the first time in the sport of women's basketball on Saturday afternoon at Purcell Pavilion.
Other Notre Dame-UNC Wilmington Series TidbitsUNC Wilmington will be the 198th different opponent in the 37-year history of Notre Dame women's basketball.
Notre Dame is 15-2 (.882) all-time against teams from the state of North Carolina including a 5-0 record at home. Saturday will mark the first of six games the Fighting Irish will play against North Carolina schools during the regular season, with the other five not scheduled until the final month of the campaign, all against ACC opponents (home-and-home series with Duke, home vs. North Carolina, away at Wake Forest and North Carolina State).
UNC Wilmington is the first of five new opponent on this year's Notre Dame schedule, with inaugural series matchups to follow against Oregon State, South Dakota State and ACC foes Clemson and Florida State. The Fighting Irish have won their last 12 games against first-time opponents, most recently dispatching Kansas, 93-63, on March 31, 2013, in the NCAA Championship Norfolk Region semifinals at Norfolk, Va.
During their current 12-game winning streak against new opposition, the Fighting Irish have won by an average score of 95-47.
Notre Dame is 56-7 (.889) against first-time opponents since 1995-96 (when it joined the BIG EAST Conference), including a 36-3 (.923) mark vs. new teams this century (since the start of the 2000-01 season).
The Fighting Irish have won 28 consecutive home games against first-time opponents, dating back to Jan. 18, 1996, when Connecticut posted an 87-64 win at Purcell Pavilion. The last new opponent to visit South Bend was Utah State, which Notre Dame defeated 109-70 on Dec. 8, 2012.
Not only will this be the schools' first meeting in women's basketball, but Notre Dame and UNC Wilmington have played just once in any sport in their respective histories. On Feb. 23, 2007, the Seahawks defeated the Fighting Irish, 9-4, in the Baseball at the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Notre Dame has had two North Carolina residents suit up during the 37-year history of its program -- Raleigh native Mary Joan Forbes played for the Fighting Irish in their first Division I season (1980-81) and more recently, Charlotte resident Erica Williamson was a four-year monogram recipient from 2006-10, also serving as president of the Notre Dame Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) during her senior season.
Blowing The Lid Off
Notre Dame is 28-8 (.778) all-time in season openers and carries an 18-game winning streak into Saturday's game against UNC Wilmington. The Fighting Irish also are 23-3 (.885) in lidlifters during the Muffet McGraw era (since 1987-88), with their last season-opening loss coming on Nov. 26, 1994 (65-60 in overtime at No. 25 Seton Hall). Last year, Notre Dame opened with a 57-51 win over No. 19/21 Ohio State at the Carrier Classic aboard the USS Yorktown in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Like their overall record, the Fighting Irish are 28-8 (.778) all-time in home openers, with a 22-4 (.880) record during McGraw's 26-year tenure. The Fighting Irish also have won 18 consecutive home openers, dating back to the 1994-95 season, when they dropped their first game of the year at Purcell Pavilion, 87-83 to No. 13/11 Purdue (Nov. 30, 1994).
Could It Happen Again?
Last year marked the first time in program history Notre Dame sold out its home opener, with 9,149 fans on hand to watch the Fighting Irish defeat Massachusetts, 94-50 on Nov. 18, 2012, at Purcell Pavilion. It was the first of a school-record 11 sellout crowds for Notre Dame last season, including 10 of its final 11 home games.
Making A Good First Impression
With four freshmen on the Notre Dame roster, chances are good that one or more of the Fighting Irish rookies will see significant action in Saturday's season opener against UNC Wilmington.
In recent years, Notre Dame's freshmen have wasted little time in making their presence felt. In 2009, Skylar Diggins came off the bench to score 14 points in her debut game in the season and home opener against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. Two seasons later, current junior forward Markisha Wright tossed in 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds against visiting Akron. Last year, current sophomore guard Jewell Loyd collected five points and a game-high 12 rebounds in a win over No. 19/21 Ohio State aboard the USS Yorktown at the Carrier Classic in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Two players have posted double-doubles in their Notre Dame debuts, with the most recent coming on Nov. 18, 2005, when Lindsay Schrader rolled up 10 points and 14 rebounds in a victory over Michigan at Purcell Pavilion. Prior to Schrader, the only other Fighting Irish player to register a double-double in her college debut was Shari Matvey, who did so against Marion on Nov. 30, 1979 (at the Taylor Invitational in Upland, Ind.), when the Irish were still playing at the AIAW Division III level.
Next Game: Michigan State
It's a quick turnaround for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish return to the Purcell Pavilion hardwood at 7 p.m. (ET) Monday to take on No. 20/18 Michigan State. The game will be streamed live and free of charge on Notre Dame's official athletics multimedia web site, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
MSU will be making its season debut Monday night, returning three starters and nine letterwinners from last year's squad that went 25-9 and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship. The Spartans are coming off a pair of exhibition wins, most recently defeating Grand Valley State, 91-47 on Nov. 3 at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Mich.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director