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    Tournament Title At Stake As #4/3 Irish Battle #7/6 Duke

    FIGHTING IRISH Junior guard Skylar Diggins posted her fourth 20-point outing in five games this season with 22 points in Friday's win over USC.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Junior guard Skylar Diggins posted her fourth 20-point outing in five games this season with 22 points in Friday's win over USC.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Nov. 26, 2011

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    2011-12 ND Women's Basketball: Game 6
    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)
    TWITTER: @ndwbbsid

    Storylines

  • Notre Dame faces its second top-10 opponent in six days, with both games coming away from the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion.
  • The Fighting Irish are 75-for-96 (.781) from the free throw line in the past three games, including a season-high .818 (27-of-33) effort in Friday's win over USC.
  • 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.

    Rankings

  • Notre Dame is No. 4 in the current Associated Press poll and No. 3 in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll.
  • Duke is No. 7 in the current Associated Press poll and No. 6 in the latest ESPN/USA Today poll.
  • 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 fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters and Duke sophomore guard Tricia Liston were high school teammates during the 2006-07 season at Fenwick High School in the Chicago suburb of Oak Park, leading the Friars to a 36-2 record, the Illinois Class 2A state title and a No. 6 ranking in the final USA Today Super 25 high school poll. Peters was the Illinois Miss Basketball runner-up that season and Most Outstanding Player of the 2007 Illinois Class 2A Tournament (averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per game with a .621 field goal percentage and two double-doubles in the three-game run to Fenwick's first state title since 2001), while also garnering McDonald's All-America honors.
  • Notre Dame sophomore guard Kayla McBride, Duke sophomore forward Richa Jackson and Blue Devils' sophomore guard/forward Haley Peters were among those invited to try out for the 2010 USA Basketball Under-18 National Team in Colorado Springs. McBride ultimately was named (and Peters was one of 16 finalists) to the USA U18 Americas Championship Team that won the gold medal with a 5-0 record during the tournament that also was held in Colorado Springs (McBride started all five games, averaging 8.2 points and 3.8 rebounds per game with a .500 field goal percentage and .846 free throw percentage in the event).
  • Notre Dame associate head coach Jonathan Tsipis got his first taste of coaching as a student/volunteer assistant for legendary Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski during the 1995-96 season.
  • Prior to her appointment to the Blue Devils' staff this summer (and between several stints with WNBA teams), first-year Duke assistant coach Joy Cheek had spent the past few years on the staff of Notre Dame's summer basketball camps.
  • Duke vice president/director of athletics Kevin White spent eight years (2000-08) in a similar role at Notre Dame, and was at the helm when the Fighting Irish women's basketball team won the 2001 national championship. Several of White's lieutenants on the Duke athletics administration staff also have Notre Dame ties, including deputy director of athletics Stan Wilcox (same post at Notre Dame from 2005-08; four-year monogram winner in men's basketball at Notre Dame from 1978-81 under head coach Digger Phelps including 1978 Final Four berth; earned bachelor's degree in economics from top-ranked Mendoza College of Business in 1981) and associate director of athletics/administration and chief of staff Nina King (director of rules education at Notre Dame from 2005-08; graduated from Notre Dame in 2000, earning bachelor's of business administration degree from Mendoza College of Business; served as head student manager for Fighting Irish women's swimming & diving program as a senior in 1999-2000).
  • Duke assistant track & field (throws) coach B.J. Linnenbrink spent four seasons in a similar role at Notre Dame, helping taking the Fighting Irish throwers to new heights, most notably 15 NCAA regional qualifiers, 17 all-BIG EAST selections, Notre Dame's first-ever female thrower in the NCAA Championships and the first Fighting Irish men's thrower to reach the NCAA Outdoor Championships since 1945.
  • 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.

    Tournament Tested
    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.

    Game #5 Recap: USC
    Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw looked at the stat sheet and was impressed with the zero turnovers her point guard Skylar Diggins had against Southern California.

    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

  • Notre Dame has won 30 of its last 34 regular-season tournament games (dating back to the 1996-97 season), including four of five this season.
  • The Fighting Irish are 4-0 all-time when playing in the Caribbean, adding Friday's win over USC to three victories at the 2009 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
  • Notre Dame improves to 8-2 all-time against USC, earning its first win over the Trojans since Nov. 27, 2005 (a 73-62 victory in South Bend).
  • Friday's 22-point margin was the largest by either side in the 10-game series (previous was 16 by USC in a 69-53 win on Jan. 2, 1985, in Fullerton, Calif.).
  • The 80 points scored by the Fighting Irish also were a series best, while the 58 points were the fewest allowed by Notre Dame to USC since Nov. 26, 2004 (a 60-56 Notre Dame win over the Trojans at the Los Angeles Sports Arena).
  • The Fighting Irish rise to 70-14 (.833) in the month of November since joining the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96.
  • Notre Dame is 22-13 (.629) when playing its first game after Thanksgiving, including an 18-7 (.720) record in the 25-year Muffet McGraw era.
  • The Fighting Irish move to 23-15 (.605) all-time against California schools, including a 14-11 (.560) record away from home and a 21-7 (.750) mark in the McGraw era.
  • Notre Dame also improves to 22-20 (.524) against the current Pac-12 Conference alignment, winning for the 19th time in its last 26 games against that league.
  • Novosel moved into 25th place on the Fighting Irish career scoring list with 1,066 points, passing Carrie Bates (1,060 points from 1981-85).
  • Novosel has gone 22-of-29 at the foul line in her last two games.
  • As a team, Notre Dame shot a season-best .818 (27-of-33) from the free throw stripe on Friday, with the Fighting Irish averaging 31 trips to the line (and 23.5 free throws made) in their last four games.
  • Diggins has scored 20 or more points in four of five games, with the lone exception being the Nov. 13 game vs. Indiana State when she scored 14 points in 20 minutes during a 99-34 win over the Sycamores at Purcell Pavilion.
  • 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.

    -- ND --
     

     

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