Nov. 26, 2011
Junkanoo Jam -- Freeport Division Championship Game
#4/3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (4-1 / 0-0 BIG EAST) vs. #7/6 Duke Blue Devils (4-0 / 0-0 ACC)
DATE: November 26, 2011
TIME: 8:00 p.m. ET
AT: Freeport, Bahamas - St. Georges High School (1,200)
SERIES: ND leads 4-1
1ST MTG: ND 74-67 (3/22/86)
LAST MTG: ND 76-65 (11/17/04)
WEBCAST: America One Sports (PPV-live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / UND.com (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
Tournament Title At Stake As #4/3 Notre Dame Battles #7/6 Duke
After each posting dominant victories on Friday, No. 4/3 Notre Dame and No. 7/6 Duke are set to meet for the Junkanoo Jam Freeport Division championship at 8 p.m. ET Saturday at St. Georges High School in Freeport, Bahamas. The game will be webcast live on a pay-per-view basis by America One Sports (visit americaonesports.com for more information), while Notre Dame's official athletics web site, www.UND.com, will carry a free live audio broadcast and in-progress updates also will be available on the Fighting Irish women's basketball news Twitter feed (@ndwbbsid).
Notre Dame (4-1) rode a pair of significant runs during each half to take control and roll past USC, 80-58 in Friday's first-round Freeport Division game at the Junkanoo Jam. The Fighting Irish took the lead for good with a 17-5 run midway through the first half and then put the Trojans away for good with a 14-1 run in the second half, going to post its largest win in 10 all-time meetings with USC.
Junior guard Skylar Diggins chalked up a game-high 22 points and senior guard Natalie Novosel added 17 points to pace Notre Dame to the win. All 11 Fighting Irish players in uniform wound up scoring in the contest, with Notre Dame forcing 21 USC turnovers (11 coming on steals, led by Diggins' five thefts) and holding the Trojans to a single field goal for the final 7:34 of the first half while opening up a double-digit lead.
Duke (4-0) posted its fourth win in as many outings this year with a dominant 97-31 win over Gardner-Webb in Friday's other first-round matchup in the Junkanoo Jam's Freeport Division. The Blue Devils jumped out to a 22-5 lead and never looked back, shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 47.6 percent (10-of-21) from the three-point line while forcing 34 GWU turnovers. Sophomore forward Tricia Liston came off the bench to lead Duke in scoring for the second game in a row, leading four double-figure scorers with 23 points on near-perfect shooting (7-9 FG, 3-5 3FG, 6-6 FT) and adding a game-high six rebounds.
The Notre Dame-Duke Series
Notre Dame and Duke will square off for the sixth time on Saturday night, with the Fighting Irish holding a 4-1 series edge on the Blue Devils. The teams have not met since the 2004-05 season, when No. 11/10 Notre Dame defeated sixth-ranked Duke, 76-65, in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT at Purcell Pavilion. Saturday's game also is the second in the series to be played on a neutral court, with the Fighting Irish knocked off the Blue Devils, 74-67 in the teams' first-ever matchup on March 22, 1986, at the old postseason National Women's Invitation Tournament (NWIT) in Amarillo, Texas.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Duke Met
Senior All-America forward Jacqueline Batteast scored 17 points, including 10 during a decisive three-minute run in the second half, to lead No. 11/10 Notre Dame to a 76-65 victory over No. 6 Duke in the semifinals of the Preseason WNIT on Nov. 17, 2004, at Purcell Pavilion.
Batteast, who got into early foul trouble and had just four points in the first half, was 6-of-12 shooting in the second half. With Duke ahead 56-55, Batteast made two free throws, then hit four straight shots and assisted on freshman guard Charel Allen's basket in a 12-2 run that put the Fighting Irish ahead 67-58.
Allen added 16 points, and junior guard Megan Duffy had 15 for the Fighting Irish, who advanced to the Preseason WNIT championship game for the first time (they would win the title three days later with a 66-62 win over No. 10/9 Ohio State, also at Purcell Pavilion).
Monique Currie led Duke with 14 points and 11 rebounds, but made just 2-of-9 shots for seven points in the second half. Alison Bales had 11 points and seven blocked shots, and Mistie Williams added 10 points.
Duke, which led 28-26 at halftime, opened a 41-33 lead less than five minutes into the second half. But Batteast, Allen and Duffy each hit three-pointers as the Fighting Irish went on a 17-9 run to tie the game at 50 when junior forward Courtney LaVere, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds, hit a 10-foot shot from the baseline.
The teams then traded leads four times until Batteast took over. She started the run with a pair of free throws, then made a 10-foot baseline jumper and hit an 18-foot shot from the top of the key. She added a rebound basket and a 15-foot jumper before dishing off to Allen to cap the spurt.
Other Notre Dame-Duke Series Tidbits
Notre Dame vs. The ACC
Notre Dame is 40-17 (.702) all-time against the current alignment of the Atlantic Coast Conference, with a 6-3 (.667) record at neutral sites.
Not surprisingly, the three most common ACC opponents are the three schools that migrated from the BIG EAST to the ACC in the past decade -- Boston College (12-5), Miami (14-3) and Virginia Tech (5-1). Take that trio out of the mix and Notre Dame is 9-8 (.529) all-time against the other longer-tenured ACC schools.
Notre Dame has not played an ACC opponent since Nov. 23, 2008, when it posted a 102-54 victory at Boston College. The two current Fighting Irish fifth-year players -- guard Brittany Mallory and forward Devereaux Peters -- suited up for that game, with Mallory scoring 14 points on a near-perfect shooting day (5-5 FG, 3-3 3FG, 1-2 FT) and Peters tallying four points, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 16 minutes. As a team, Notre Dame shot 64.6 percent from the field (sixth-best in school history), including 87.5 percent from the three-point line (second-best in school history).
Yet Another Ranked Opponent
For the second time in six days, Notre Dame will face a top-10 opponent when it meets No. 7/6 Duke Saturday night in the championship game of the Junkanoo Jam's Freeport Division. This past Sunday, the Fighting Irish fell at No. 1 Baylor, 94-81 in the Preseason WNIT title game despite taking an early lead and trailing by only one point (56-55) with less than 14 minutes remaining.
The last time Notre Dame played two top-10 teams in such a short span of time during the regular season was Nov. 17-20, 2004, when it defeated No. 6 Duke (76-65) and No. 10/9 Ohio State (66-62) in the semifinals and final of the Preseason WNIT, both at Purcell Pavilion.
The Fighting Irish have played consecutive games against top-10 opponents in the postseason numerous times, most recently in the last three games of the 2011 NCAA Championship, when they defeated No. 4 Tennessee (73-59) in the Dayton Regional final and No. 1 Connecticut (72-63) in the national semifinals (Women's Final Four) in Indianapolis before falling to No. 7/8 Texas A&M (76-70) in the national championship game.
Notre Dame has felt right at home in tournament situations during the past 16 years. Starting with the 1996-97 season, the Fighting Irish have won 30 of their last 34 regular-season tournament games (multi-game events only), including runs to the title in last year's WBCA Classic at Purcell Pavilion (three games) and the State Farm Holiday Hoops Classic in Seattle (two games).
In that time, Notre Dame also has advanced to the championship game (or its equivalent) in nine of its last 11 regular-season tournaments, including both tournaments it has played this year -- the Preseason WNIT and Junkanoo Jam. The lone exceptions in that time occurred in the Preseason WNIT in 1996 and 2007, when the Fighting Irish lost in the semifinals both times.
The only Notre Dame losses during this current stretch were three defeats to teams ranked in the top three nationally during the Preseason WNIT semifinals (72-59 vs. No. 3/2 Tennessee at Ruston, La., in 1996; 75-59 at No. 3 Maryland in 2007) or championship (94-81 at No. 1 Baylor in 2011), 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.
Notre Dame is playing its second regular-season tournament of the 2011-12 campaign, having finished as the runner-up at this year's Preseason WNIT. This marks the second consecutive year the Fighting Irish are competing in multiple tourneys, and the second time in three seasons they have played in a Caribbean tournament (after winning the 2009 Paradise Jam Island Division championship in the U.S. Virgin Islands).
November To Remember
Notre Dame's success during the past 17 years has been aided by its ability to get off to a good start. To wit -- the Fighting Irish are 70-14 (.833) in November games since they joined the BIG EAST Conference in time for the 1995-96 season.
Diggins scored 22 points and had five steals for the fourth-ranked Fighting Irish in a 80-58 win over USC on Friday in the Junkanoo Jam at St. Georges High School in Freeport, Bahamas.
"No turnovers for Skylar," McGraw said. "That's incredible, against some great pressure, and she had the ball so much. We really wanted to keep the ball in her hands (Friday), because she was really making things happen. For a while, she was the only one who was scoring. I was really, really pleased with just her game management. I thought she ran the team extremely well."
Natalie Novosel added 17 points for the Fighting Irish (4-1), who will play No. 7/6 Duke at 8 p.m. (ET) Saturday in the Freeport Division championship game.
"I'm just trying to stay steady through frustration, through adversity, through any situation," Diggins said. "I was trying to set the tone. (Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey) and I had a conversation before the game about defensive pressure. I said, `I feel like I haven't had a great defensive pressure game since my freshman year.' She said, `this is where you can get back to it.'"
Notre Dame turned up its defense and held USC (1-3) to one field goal over the final 7:34 of the first half. The Fighting Irish led 42-30 at the break as Diggins had 16 points. Notre Dame cruised in the second half.
"What gets us going is our defense," Novosel said. "If we were able to get some defensive stops that turn into easy transition points, it gets us into a better flow offensively."
The Women of Troy are in the midst of a month-long stretch that will see them play eight of nine games on the road, including six east of the Rocky Mountains. USC began that run last week with losses at Nebraska and No. 10 Georgia.
Ashley Corral scored 17 points to lead USC.
This was the first meeting between the schools since USC beat Notre Dame 69-58 on Nov. 24, 2006. The Fighting Irish have won eight of the 10 all-time meetings.
"You're playing against a top 5 team in the country in Notre Dame," USC coach Michael Cooper said. "One of the things we wanted to do was come out and get a good start, and I thought we did that. We were able to stay focused. But when you play these elite teams, you have to stay focused for every possession, every minute of the clock. We were able to fight our way back into it, but we knew it was just a matter of time before Notre Dame would try to assert its will on us. They did that. We played well, but it shows you why they are one of the top teams in the country."
Beyond The Box Score -- USC
Next Game: Pennsylvania
Notre Dame will be off for the next six days before returning to the hardwood at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday when it plays host to Ivy League member Pennsylvania at Purcell Pavilion. It will be the first meeting between the Fighting Irish and Quakers in nearly 30 years, with the teams last squaring off in the first season of NCAA-sponsored women's basketball competition on Dec. 18, 1981, at Penn's Holiday Tournament in Philadelphia (Notre Dame earned a 62-47 win).
The Quakers are 2-1 this season following a 58-47 loss at crosstown (and Big 5) rival La Salle on Tuesday night. Penn visits Niagara on Sunday afternoon, and also has a home game against Lafayette slated for Wednesday evening before taking the court at Notre Dame on Friday.