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    Fighting Irish
    #23 Irish Take On #3 Maryland Friday in WNIT Semifinal

    FIGHTING IRISH Senior guard Tulyah Gaines is averaging a team-high 5.0 assists per game with a 5.0 assist/turnover ratio this season.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Senior guard Tulyah Gaines is averaging a team-high 5.0 assists per game with a 5.0 assist/turnover ratio this season.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Nov. 15, 2007

    Game Notes (PDF)Get Acrobat Reader

    2007-08 ND Women's Basketball: Game 3
    Preseason WNIT -- Semifinal
    #23/25 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-0 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. #3/3 Maryland Terrapins (3-0 / 0-0 ACC)

    DATE: November 16, 2007
    TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
    AT: College Park, Md. - Comcast Center (17,950)
    SERIES: UM leads 3-1
    1ST MTG: 1/8/83 (UM 84-62)
    LAST MTG: 1/10/87 (UM 69-48)
    RADIO: ESPN Radio 1490 AM/UND.com (Sean Stires, p-b-p)
    TV: None
    LIVE STATS: UND.com
    TICKETS: (800) 462-8377

    Storylines

    • Notre Dame faces its first ranked opponent of the season.
    • The Irish look to return to the Preseason WNIT championship game after winning the tournament title in their last appearance (2004).

    For the third time in as many trips to the Preseason WNIT, Notre Dame has advanced to the semifinals of the tournament. Now, the No. 23/25 Irish will seek to take the next step and get back to the title game and a chance to reclaim the hardware they won in 2004. Standing in their way is third-ranked Maryland, with the teams set to tangle Friday in a 7 p.m. (ET) matchup at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md.

    The Irish improved to 2-0 this season with a solid 78-59 victory over Western Kentucky on Tuesday night at the Joyce Center. For the second consecutive game, Notre Dame set the tone early, going on a 15-3 run in the first five and a half minutes and never looking back. The Irish got their lead as high as 32 points midway through the second half before WKU finally cut into the margin down the stretch.

    Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow scored a game-high 18 points and senior guard Charel Allen added 16 points and six rebounds for the Irish, who have yet to trail in a game this year.

    Rankings

    • Notre Dame is ranked 23rd in this week's Associated Press poll and 25th in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll.
    • Maryland is ranked third in this week's Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls.

    Web Sites

  • Notre Dame: http://www.UND.com
  • Maryland: http://www.umterps.com
  • BIG EAST: http://www.bigeast.org
  • ACC: http://www.theacc.com
  • Setting The Standard
    Under the guidance of 21st-year head coach Muffet McGraw, Notre Dame has evolved into one of the country's leading women's basketball powers. The Irish have appeared in 14 NCAA Tournaments (including a current streak of 12 in a row) and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 six times in the past 11 years.

    Notre Dame also has reached the NCAA Women's Final Four twice, winning college basketball's ultimate prize with the 2001 national championship.

    In its history, Notre Dame has developed nine All-Americans, nine WNBA players (including six draft picks in the past seven years) and four USA Basketball veterans (nine medals won). Now in their 31st season in 2006-07, the Irish own an all-time record of 615-278 (.689).

    Notre Dame Head Coach Muffet McGraw
    Saint Joseph's (Pa.) '77

    • 21st season at Notre Dame
      • 451-179 (.716) at Notre Dame.
      • 539-220 (.710) in 26 years as head coach.
    NOTES
    • 2001 consensus National Coach of the Year
    • Four-time Naismith Coach of the Year finalist u Four-time conference Coach of the Year
      • BIG EAST Conference (2001)
      • Midwestern Collegiate Conference (1991)
      • North Star Conference (1988)
      • East Coast Conference (@ Lehigh) (1983)

    A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
    Even after a 20-12 record and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2006-07, Notre Dame still continues to fly below the national radar. Head coach Muffet McGraw wouldn't want it any other way.

    Last year, the Irish learned quickly that respect is something that isn't handed to you, but rather earned on the court. It's also a quality that takes time to develop and doesn't come from trophy cases or record books. So although Notre Dame was tabbed fifth in the preseason BIG EAST Conference balloting, it's not a great concern to McGraw and her charges.

    Instead, they focus on the things they can control and prefer to let the outside world judge them when the season is over. This year could prove to be unlike any in recent memory for Notre Dame.

    For one, the Irish will roll out some impressive depth, going virtually two-deep at every floor position. In addition, Notre Dame's new offensive system (a Princeton-based set with four guards and a post) continues to evolve, building upon last year's 70.1 point-per-game average that was its highest since the 2000-01 NCAA national championship season.

    Senior guard Charel Allen is the top returning scorer and rebounder for the Irish, leading the team in both categories last year (17.0 ppg., 6.2 rpg.). She also was a first-team all-BIG EAST and WBCA honorable mention All-America selection, and was a finalist for the 2007 USA U21 World Championship Team that struck gold this past summer in Moscow.

    Allen's backcourt partner and classmate is point guard Tulyah Gaines.

    Now in her second full season at the helm of the Notre Dame offense, the speedy Gaines averaged 9.6 points per game along with team highs of 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. She also is a two-year team captain who commands instant respect from teammates, coaches and opponents.

    The Irish will benefit from the return of junior guard Lindsay Schrader, who missed the entire 2006-07 season with a torn ACL in her right knee. Schrader, who retains three years of athletic eligibility, was Notre Dame's second-leading scorer (10.5 ppg.) and top rebounder (5.4 rpg.) as a rookie in 2005-06 and will look to regain that form this season.

    Last year saw Notre Dame break new ground by becoming the first school ever to put three players on the BIG EAST All-Freshman Team. Guards Ashley Barlow (10.3 ppg., 5.4 rpg.) and Melissa Lechlitner (6.3 ppg., 2.7 apg.) will provide a superb complement to the veteran Allen-Gaines tandem, while center Erica Williamson (6.1 ppg., 5.3 rpg., 1.3 bpg.) showed flashes of potential throughout her rookie season and is poised for increased development this year.

    Headlining a three-player freshman class (ranked 11th nationally by Blue Star Basketball) is Devereaux Peters, a smooth 6-2 forward who was a consensus All-American as a senior last year at national powerhouse Fenwick High School in Oak Park, Ill. Fellow post Becca Bruszewski (Valparaiso, Ind.) finished third in last season's Indiana Miss Basketball voting and was a perennial all-state pick. And, guard Brittany Mallory (Baltimore, Md.) offers a perimeter shooting threat, as well as a cerebral player who will mesh well in the Irish offensive system.

    Potent Notables About The Irish

    • Notre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past 11 seasons (1996-97 to present), ranking seventh with 269 victories in that span.
    • Notre Dame's incoming class of 2007 was ranked 11th in the nation by Blue Star Basketball, marking the 11th 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 has averaged 5,642 fans to its first two home games this season and has attracted 5,000-or-more fans to 96 of its last 98 home games, including three Joyce Center sellouts of 11,418 (most recently on Dec. 31, 2005 vs. Tennessee). Last season, Notre Dame ranked 10th nationally in attendance (6,364 fans per game), marking the seventh consecutive campaign 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 have been 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 Maryland
    Just a year removed from winning the program's first NCAA national championship, Maryland is hungry for more and seems well-positioned to make another run at college basketball's brass ring.

    The Terrapins (3-0) are ranked third in both major national polls this week, after wrapping two Preseason WNIT wins around an impressive victory over then-No. 6 Oklahoma, 76-66 on Nov. 11 in Chapel Hill, N.C. Most recently, UM booked its place in the Preseason WNIT semifinals with a comfortable 91-43 win over Delaware on Tuesday night.

    In that game, the Terrapins shot 60.7 percent from the field in the first half (.467 for the game) and were almost automatic from the foul line for the night, hitting 25 of 27 free throws (.926). Junior guard Kristi Toliver rang up a double-double with 19 points (5-9 FG, 4-6 3FG) and 10 assists, while senior forward/center Jade Perry was a force inside with 11 points and a game-high 15 rebounds.

    Toliver leads a well-balanced Maryland attack at 17.0 points per night, along with a staggering 10.3 assists per game. Junior guard/forward Marissa Coleman is second in scoring (16.7 ppg.), while senior forward/center Laura Harper (12.3 ppg., 6.3 rpg.) and Perry (10.3 ppg., 10.0 rpg.) are hot on their heels. As a team, Maryland is averaging 81.0 points per game and shooting .497 from the field (.404 from three-point range). The Terrapins have been most effective on the glass, owning a massive +17.7 rebound margin through three games.

    Head coach Brenda Frese is in her sixth season at Maryland with a 115-51(.693) record in College Park. She's also in her ninth year as a college coach, with previous stops at Minnesota and Ball State, and sports a career record of 172-81 (.680). Friday's game will be her first against Notre Dame.

    The Notre Dame-Maryland Series
    Maryland leads the all-time series with Notre Dame, 3-1, with each of the four games occurring in a span of five seasons during the mid-1980s. The Irish and Terrapins also have split their two previous matchups in College Park, both of which took place at historic Cole Field House, which has since given way to UM's current home, the Comcast Center.

    The series has been dormant since Jan. 10, 1987, when Maryland earned a 69-48 win at the Joyce Center. Friday's game will be the first in the series to be played in College Park since Jan. 9, 1985, when Notre Dame claimed its lone victory over the Terrapins, 49-40.

    The Last Time Notre Dame And Maryland Met
    The trio of Lisa Brown, Vicky Bullett and Edna Campbell combined for 52 points and shot better than 58 percent from the floor, pacing 19th-ranked Maryland to a 69-48 victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 10, 1987 at the Joyce Center.

    Brown scored a game-high 20 points, Bullett added 18 points, six rebounds and six steals, and Campbell chipped in with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting as the Terrapins shot a blistering .574 for the game.

    Heidi Bunek was the lone Notre Dame player to score in double figures, finishing with 10 points. Playmaking point guard Mary Gavin registered eight points and a game-high six assists for the Irish, who couldn't keep up with the high-powered Terrapins.

    UM led 38-26 at halftime, and Notre Dame couldn't get any closer after shooting just .345 in the second half.

    The Last Time Notre Dame and Maryland Met In College Park
    Behind a record-setting defensive performance in the first half, Notre Dame collected its first-ever win over Maryland, downing the Terrapins, 49-40 on Jan. 9, 1985 at Cole Field House in College Park, Md.

    The Irish limited UM to just seven points in the opening 20 minutes, which remains the lowest scoring half ever recorded by a Notre Dame opponent. Maryland shot just 11.5 percent (3-of-26) in the first half -- and made only one basket in the first 14-plus minutes -- while the Irish jumped out a 26-7 lead at the break. The Terrapins actually outscored Notre Dame by 10 points in the second period, and got as close as seven points on four occasions in the final 3:05, but it wasn't enough to overcome their early offensive woes.

    Trena Keys scored a game-high 16 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the Irish, while Laura Dougherty contributed 12 points and a team-high three assists. Lisa Brown was the only Maryland player to score in double digits, coming off the bench to tally 10 points.

    Other Notre Dame-Maryland Series Tidbits

    • Maryland is one of 11 former or current NCAA champions Notre Dame has faced in its history. The Irish are 24-70 (.255) all-time against schools that have hoisted the hardware (either before or after they won the title), with records of .500 or better against USC (7-2), North Carolina (2-1) and Texas (1-1). Besides its 1-3 record against Maryland, the other NCAA champions Notre Dame previously has played include (Irish record in parentheses): Connecticut (4-20), Louisiana Tech (1-2), Old Dominion (1-5), Purdue (6-14), Stanford (0-2), Tennessee (0-18) and Texas Tech (1-2). In fact, the only NCAA winner the Irish have never played is 2005 champion Baylor.
    • Three of the four previous games in the series took place in the month of January. The lone exception < Nov. 26, 1985, when the Terrapins defeated the Irish, 75-57 in the consolation game at the Notre Dame Thanksgiving Classic.
    • The Irish have not played Maryland in the 21-year Muffet McGraw era. The last time the teams met, McGraw was in her final season at Lehigh, helping the (then) Engineers to a 17-11 record. She was hired at Notre Dame on May 18, 1987, a little more than five months after the Irish and Terrapins last played.
    • Notre Dame is 3-3 all-time against teams from the state of Maryland. In addition to their series against the Terrapins, the Irish are 2-0 against Loyola, defeating the Greyhounds in 1991 (84-49 at the Joyce Center) and 1992 (55-48 in Baltimore). The latter matchup also marks the last time Notre Dame played in the Old Line State, although it has been a regular visitor to the nation's capital in recent years for games with BIG EAST Conference rival Georgetown.
    • Only three games into her college career, freshman guard Brittany Mallory gets a homecoming of sorts. Mallory is a Baltimore native and 2007 graduate of McDonogh School in Owings Mills, Md. She was a three-time all-state selection and four time Baltimore Sun all-metro and all-county pick in basketball, in addition to an honorable mention All-America career on the lacrosse field.
    • Mallory and Maryland freshman guard Marah Strickland dueled regularly during their high school days, as their schools were members of the same conference in metro Baltimore. Strickland attended Towson Catholic High School for her final two prep seasons, after playing her first two years for St. John's at Prospect Hall. In 2007, Strickland's Towson squad defeated Mallory's McDonogh team to win the Interscholatic Athletic Association of Maryland (IAAM) A Conference title, with Strickland going on to be named the Baltimore Sun Metro and County Player of the Year.
    • Eight of the players slated to be in uniform for Friday's game took part in USA Basketball Trials during the summer of 2007. Notre Dame sophomore guards Melissa Lechlitner and Ashley Barlow were joined by Maryland freshman forward Drey Mingo and freshman guard Marah Strickland at the U19 World Championship Team Trials, with Lechlitner ultimately being selected and earning a gold medal with the squad. Meanwhile, Notre Dame senior guard Charel Allen, and Maryland senior forward/centers Laura Harper and Crystal Langhorne and UM junior guard/forward Marissa Coleman all competed at the U21 World Championship/Pan American Games Team Trials. Coleman made the Pan Am Games squad (won gold), while Allen was one of 14 finalists for the 12-player U21 World Championship Team (won gold with Langhorne and Harper on roster).
    • First-year Maryland assistant coach Daron Park probably is most familiar with Notre Dame among the Terrapins' coaching staff. Park was an assistant coach at Utah when the No. 13/14 Irish faced the No. 22/21 Utes on Dec. 18, 2005 in the championship game of the Duel in the Desert (Gray Division) in Las Vegas -- a game won by Notre Dame, 68-55.

    Notre Dame vs. The Atlantic Coast Conference
    Notre Dame is 38-16 (.704) all-time against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, including a 20-12 (.625) record away from home (road/neutral sites). The Irish also are 34-10 (.773) against the ACC in the Muffet McGraw era, with a 16-9 (.640) mark outside of South Bend.

    Notre Dame last played an ACC school on March 20, 2007, when second-ranked North Carolina rallied for a 60-51 victory over the Irish in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Pittsburgh, Pa.

    In an interesting twist, Notre Dame will be playing an ACC opponent in the Preseason WNIT semifinals for the second consecutive time. Back in 2004, the 11th-ranked Irish toppled No. 6 Duke, 76-65 at the Joyce Center, on the way to winning the tournament title. Notre Dame also played an ACC school during its 1996 Preseason WNIT appearance, defeating No. 8/12 North Carolina State, 64-53 in the third-place game (which no longer exists) at Ruston, La.

    Maryland is one of two ACC schools on Notre Dame's schedule this season.

    The Irish will return from the Thanksgiving break to play host to Boston College on Nov. 24 (noon ET) at the Joyce Center. Aside from its regular matchups with BC, Miami (Fla.) and Virginia Tech when those schools were in the BIG EAST, Notre Dame has not faced multiple ACC opponents in the same season since 1996-97. That year, the Irish followed up the aforementioned win over N.C. State with a 76-69 victory at Georgia Tech in the championship game of the Comfort Inn Downtown Classic.

    Tournament Tested
    Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 12 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Irish have won 18 of their last 20 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), including a four-game run to the 2004 Preseason WNIT championship.

    The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were a 72-59 defeat at the hands of No. 3/2 Tennessee in the 1996 Preseason WNIT semifinals (Nov. 19, 1996 in Ruston, La.), and a 67-63 overtime setback at No. 20 Colorado on Nov. 15, 2003 in the finals of the WBCA Classic < a game that saw the Buffaloes sink a desperation 30-footer at the end of regulation to force the extra session.

    Been Down This Road Before
    The Irish are no strangers to playing highly-ranked opponents in the Preseason WNIT. In fact, Friday's game at No. 3 Maryland will be the sixth for Notre Dame against a top-10 opponent in 11 tournament games, with the Irish sporting a 4-1 (.800) record in the previous five matchups (only loss to No. 3/2 Tennessee, 72-59 in 1996 semifinals). Included in that record is a 61-50 victory at No. 6 Iowa in the 1996 quarterfinals, marking the first win over a top-10 opponent in program history.

    Overall, Notre Dame is 24-57 (.296) all-time against top-10 teams and has knocked off at least one top-10 opponent in 10 of the past 11 seasons. Last year, the Irish defeated No. 10/9 Purdue, 67-58 at the Joyce Center.

    Preseason WNIT Rewind
    For the second time in four years, but just the third time in school history, Notre Dame is taking part in the Preseason Women's National Invitation Tournament (WNIT). The Irish are 9-1 (.900) all-time in the tournament, including a win in their only prior true road game (61-50 at No. 6 Iowa on Nov. 17, 1996).

    Notre Dame last played in the Preseason WNIT in 2004, winning the championship with victories over Illinois State (92-73), Nebraska (73-57), No. 6 Duke (76-65) and No. 10/9 Ohio State (66-62), all at the Joyce Center.

    Jacqueline Batteast was named the event's Most Valuable Player after scoring a career-high 32 points in the final against OSU. Megan Duffy also earned a place on the all-tournament team. On the strength of their WNIT crown, the Irish moved as high as third in the national polls, finished as the BIG EAST Conference runner-up, and made a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Notre Dame also participated in the 1996 Preseason WNIT, advancing to the semifinals after defeating Kent State (66-41) and No. 6 Iowa (61-50). Following a 72-59 loss to No. 3/2 Tennessee in the semifinals at Ruston, La., the Irish bounced back to defeat No. 8/12 North Carolina State, 64-53 in the third-place game (which no longer exists). Katryna Gaither was named to the all-tournament team after making a tournament-record 42 field goals in the four-game set (a record that still stands). Notre Dame went on to log a 31-7 record in 1996-97, advancing to its first NCAA Final Four.

    The Irish will be looking to continue the BIG EAST's run of success in the Preseason WNIT. BIG EAST teams have reached the tournament championship game four times in the past six years and six times in the event's 13-year history. In addition to Notre Dame's 2004 crown, Connecticut won titles in 1997, 2001 and 2005, while Rutgers has been the tourney runner-up in 1998 and 2003. Purdue is the defending Preseason WNIT champion, taking a 69-55 win at Baylor in last year's title game.

    A November To Remember
    Notre Dame's success during the past 13 years has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. To wit < the Irish are 47-10 (.825) in November games since they joined the BIG EAST Conference in time for the 1995-96 season. In addition, Notre Dame has won 29 of its last 36 games during the year's penultimate month, and had a 14-game November winning streak going until a 75-49 loss at Penn State on Nov. 16, 2006.

    Spreading The Wealth
    One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's squad this season is its balance and depth. That's been particularly evident through the first two weeks of the season (counting the exhibition games), with four different players from four different floor positions and three different classes leading the team in scoring. Sophomore center Erica Williamson set the pace in the exhibition opener vs. Southern Indiana, before senior point guard Tulyah Gaines shouldered the scoring load in the second exhibition vs. Hillsdale. Junior 3-guard Lindsay Schrader took top honors in the season opener against Miami (Ohio), while sophomore shooting guard Ashley Barlow was the leading scorer in Tuesday's win over Western Kentucky.

    Guess Who's Back ... Back Again?
    Junior guard Lindsay Schrader looked very sharp in her return to action last Friday vs. Miami (Ohio). In her first meaningful game in nearly 20 months, Schrader scored exactly one point for every month she was out, finishing with 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, converting her first six shots before the game was eight minutes old. The Bartlett, Ill., native wound up playing just 17 minutes against the RedHawks, resulting in the first ³point-a-minute² game of her career.

    Polling Station
    Notre Dame is ranked 23rd in this week's Associated Press Top 25 poll, moving up one spot from its position in the preseason media balloting.

    Notre Dame now has been ranked in the AP poll for 141 weeks during the program's history, with every one of those appearances coming in the Muffet McGraw era. McGraw now ranks 14th among all active NCAA Division I head coaches for weeks in the AP poll, and is poised to break into the top 25 all-time in that category, trailing retired Colorado mentor Ceal Barry by just one week.

    The Irish also returned to the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll this week, checking in at No. 25. It's the first appearance for Notre Dame in that poll since Jan. 24, 2006, when the Irish were ranked 21st prior to losses at Rutgers (69-43) and at home to South Florida (68-64, ot) which dropped them out of the survey.

    Game #2 Recap: Western Kentucky
    Sophomore guard Ashley Barlow scored 18 points, senior guard Charel Allen added 16, No. 23/25 Notre Dame jumped to a 28-point lead in the first half and cruised to a 78-59 victory over Western Kentucky on Tuesday night in the second round of the Preseason WNIT at the Joyce Center.

    Notre Dame (2-0) dominated throughout, opening its big lead with Western Kentucky's top two players, Crystal Kelly and Dominique Duck, sitting much of the half because of foul trouble. The Irish shot 51 percent in the first half while the Lady Toppers (1-1) shot 31 percent.

    The Irish, who had 98 points in their opening-game victory against Miami of Ohio, scored 50 in the first half but couldn't keep up the pace in the second half. The Lady Toppers fell to 2-12 against ranked opponents since the start of the 2002-03 season. Western Kentucky, which shot 54 percent in its 90-73 victory over East Tennessee State in the opener, shot 38 percent against the Irish. The Irish defense forced two shot-clock violations, a held-ball call and 26 turnovers. Notre Dame was in control from the start, with Barlow hitting a three-pointer 28 seconds in to ignite a 15-3 run by the Irish. The two teams then traded baskets for the next seven minutes, but the Irish used a 15-2 run to put the game away.

    The Irish went ahead by as much as 66-34 when freshman guard Brittany Mallory scored on a fastbreak layup. The Lady Toppers closed the game on an 8-2 run to make the score a bit more respectable.

    Kelly, WKU's leading scorer last season at 24.1 points, had seven points in 21 minutes, ending a 49-game streak of scoring at least 10 points. Duck, who averaged 11.8 points, was held to seven points in 26 minutes. Kenzie Rich led the Lady Toppers with 15 points and Whitney Ballinger added 14. Sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner added 12 points for the Irish.

    Noting The Western Kentucky Game

    • Notre Dame improves to 9-1 all-time in the Preseason WNIT and advances to the semifinals of the tournament for the third time in as many appearances (also 1996 and 2004).
    • The Irish now are 35-5 (.875) against first-time opponents since joining the BIG EAST Conference (1995-96) and 15-1 (.938) since the start of the 2000-01 season, with an 8-0 home record and 10-game winning streak.
    • Notre Dame did not trail at any point in Tuesday's game, and with the exception of a 3-3 tie for a 22-second span in the first half against WKU (18:21 to 17:59), the Irish have been ahead from wire-to-wire in their first two games this season.
    • Working back to the two exhibition games, Notre Dame has had four different players from three different classes lead the team in scoring this season < sophomore center Erica Williamson (Southern Indiana), senior guard Tulyah Gaines (Hillsdale), junior guard Lindsay Schrader (Miami-Ohio) and sophomore guard Ashley Barlow (Western Kentucky).
    • Sophomore guard Melissa Lechlitner tied her career high with four steals, matching the mark she originally set on Dec. 28, 2006 vs. Prairie View A&M.
    • During the past 18 games (dating back to last season), Notre Dame has not committed more than 19 turnovers in a game, including 15 or fewer in its last four outings.

    Irish Picked Fifth In BIG EAST Poll
    Notre Dame was projected to finish fifth in the BIG EAST Conference this season, according to a preseason vote of the league's 16 head coaches that was announced Oct. 25 during BIG EAST Women's Basketball Media Day at the ESPNZone in New York City. The Irish collected 165 points, with Connecticut (15 first-place votes, 225 points), Rutgers (one first-place vote, 211 points), West Virginia (186 points) and Pittsburgh (169 points) joining Notre Dame in the top five.

    Senior guard Charel Allen was one of 11 players selected to this year's Preseason All-BIG EAST Team. Allen averaged a team-high 17.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game last season and ranked second in the BIG EAST with 19.3 points per game in league play. She went on to earn first-team all-BIG EAST and honorable mention All-America laurels. while helping the Irish go 20-12 and reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

    Half And Half
    During the past eight seasons, Notre Dame has been nearly unbeatable when it has the lead at halftime. The Irish are 126-12 (.913) since the start of the 2000-01 campaign when they go into the dressing room with the lead, including wins in 54 of their last 60 such contests. Notre Dame has opened this season with victories over Miami (Ohio) and Western Kentucky after taking the lead to the locker room.

    The Best Offense Is A Good Defense...
    During the past 13 seasons, Notre Dame has discovered that a solid defensive effort can almost certainly guarantee a victory. In fact, since the beginning of the 1995-96 season (Notre Dame's first in the BIG EAST Conference), the Irish have an amazing 170-10 (.944) record when they hold their opponents to less than 60 points in a game. Notre Dame added to this trend in its first two outings this season with wins over Miami (Ohio) and Western Kentucky.

    ...But Sometimes You Have To Score If You Want To Win
    Not resting solely on its defensive laurels, Notre Dame also seemingly has found the magic mark when it comes to outscoring its opponents. During the past 13 seasons (1995-96 to present), the Irish are 101-3 (.971) when they score at least 80 points in a game. The only blemishes on that record are a pair of overtime losses to Texas A&M (88-84) and Michigan State (87-83) in 1995 and a 106-81 loss to Connecticut in 1998.

    Notre Dame topped the 80-point mark in its season opener vs. Miami (Ohio), downing the RedHawks, 98-50.

    Now That's A Home Court Advantage
    One of the hallmarks of Notre Dame's success has been its stellar play at home. In fact, the Irish have been virtually untouchable at home in recent years, winning 151 of their last 169 games (.893) at the 11,418-seat Joyce Center, including winning streaks of 51 and 25 games in that span. Notre Dame also has an 87-13 (.870) record in BIG EAST Conference play at the Joyce Center, sporting a 31-game league winning streak at home before it ended with a 48-45 loss to Villanova in the '02 home finale.

    The Irish have been particularly strong when it comes to non-conference games at home, winning 66 of their last 71 non-BIG EAST contests (.930) at the Joyce Center, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Four of the losses in that span came at the hands of Big Ten Conference opponents < Wisconsin in 1996 (81-69), Purdue in 2003 (71-54), Michigan State in 2004 (82-73, ot) and Indiana in 2006 (54-51) < with the fifth defeat coming to Tennessee in 2005 (62-51). The Purdue loss also snapped a 33-game non-conference home winning streak which began after the UW setback.

    Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center, posting a 301-79 (.792) record at the venerable facility. Three times (1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2003-04), the Irish went a perfect 15-0 at home, setting a school record for home wins in a season. For the third time in four years, and the second consecutive season, Notre Dame will equal the most regular-season home games (16) in school history.

    However, in 2004-05, the Irish played host to all four rounds of the Preseason WNIT before its regular 12-game home slate began. Notre Dame also will play at least two Preseason WNIT games at home this season, in addition to its previously-scheduled 14-game Joyce Center docket.

    Notre Dame On The Small Screen
    Notre Dame will have a school-record 22 regular-season games televised during the upcoming 2007-08 season. Highlighting this year's television schedule are nine nationally-televised Irish women's basketball contests, including one appearance on CBS (Jan. 5 vs. Tennessee), four games on the ESPN family of networks, and another four contests on CSTV.

    In addition, Notre Dame has expanded its broadcast reach globally on the Internet. All Irish home games (11 regular-season, two exhibition) that have not been selected for commercial TV coverage will be televised live on the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com.

    This year's TV slate continues a recent trend that has seen the Irish become a regular fixture on television. Since the start of its 2000-01 NCAA championship season (and including this year's broadcasts to date), Notre Dame now has played in 94 televised games, including 52 that were broadcast nationally.

    Oh Captain, My Captain
    Senior guards Charel Allen, Tulyah Gaines and Amanda Tsipis are team captains for the 2007-08 season. Gaines is in her second year as a captain for the Irish, while Allen and Tsipis are first-time captains. All three players received the captain's honor through a vote of their teammates prior to the season.

    Joyce Center Arena Renovation On Tap
    On Oct. 3, 2007, Notre Dame announced that construction on the Joyce Center arena addition and renovation will begin in September 2008. The University has selected the architects for the project, and they currently are in the process of completing final design plans.

    The first phase of the project, to begin next September, involves construction of a new three-story structure at the south end of the arena.

    That structure will include a new two-story lobby, the Notre Dame ticket operations (approximately 4,500 square feet) and a varsity shop to sell apparel and souvenirs (approximately 3,000 square feet), in addition to a new club seating and hospitality area.

    Replacement of the Joyce Center arena seating, including installation of chair-back seating throughout the arena, is expected to take place after the University's Commencement Exercises in May 2009. The project is scheduled for completion in January 2010. The arena is expected to re-open by mid-October 2009, in time for the start of the men's and women's basketball seasons and the end of the women's volleyball season.

    The University announced last October that this $26.3 million project had received a $12.5 million leadership gift from Notre Dame alumnus and Trustee Philip J. Purcell III. A month later, another major gift of $5 million from Notre Dame graduate Vincent J. Naimoli was announced.

    The arena will be named Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center < and the new club/hospitality area and two outdoor patios will be named for the Naimoli family.

    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.

    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 (www.notredamepromotions.com) for the latest information:

    • Nov. 24 vs. Boston College -- Mascot Day (photos with mascots on concourse beginning 75 minutes before tipoff) ... South Bend Tribune Family Day (4 tickets/sodas/hot dogs for only $25) ... season ticket holder t-shirt/media guide pickup (Gym 2 on upper concourse) ... Irish women's basketball calendar to first 1,000 fans, courtesy of Waterford Estates Lodge ... post-game autograph session courtside with selected Notre Dame players.

    Next Game: TBA
    If Notre Dame defeats Maryland on Friday night, the Irish would advance to the Preseason WNIT championship game, which would be played Sunday at a time and location to be announced. Fourth-ranked LSU and No. 17/18 Michigan State faced off in the other tournament semifinal on Thursday night in Baton Rouge, La. Notre Dame would be making its second appearance in the Preseason WNIT title game after defeating No. 10/9 Ohio State, 66-62 in the 2004 final at the Joyce Center. The Irish have an all-time series record of 1-2 against LSU and 4-8 against Michigan State.

    If Notre Dame loses at Maryland, the Irish would be back in action on Nov. 20, opening the remainder of their non-conference schedule with a 7 p.m. (ET) game at Central Michigan. Notre Dame and CMU have split their previous two meetings, with the Irish winning the most recent encounter last season (88-66 at the Joyce Center). Notre Dame will be making its first-ever visit to CMU's Rose Arena next week.


     

     

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