Nov. 29, 2013
2013-14 ND Women's Basketball: Game 6
#5/6 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (5-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Duquesne Dukes (5-2 / 0-0 Atlantic 10)
DATE: Dec. 1, 2013
TIME: 2:00 p.m. ET
AT: Toronto, Ontario - Mattamy Athletic Centre (1,200)
SERIES: ND leads 2-0
1ST MTG: ND 95-67 (2/6/93)
LAST MTG: ND 91-63 (3/1/93)
TV: WatchND (live) (feed provided by Ryerson Univ.)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: "UND.com
TICKETS: None available (the game is sold out)
StorylinesNotre Dame will be playing its sixth regular season game outside the continental United States since the start of the 2009-10 season (the Fighting Irish went 3-0 at the 2009 Paradise Jam in the U.S. Virgin Islands, 2-0 at the 2011 Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas). In addition, Notre Dame went 3-0 on its August 2013 exhibition tour to England and Spain.
Sunday's game will be a homecoming for Notre Dame senior forward/tri-captain (and Guelph, Ontario, native) Natalie Achonwa.
No. 5/6 Fighting Irish Head North Of Border, Will Face Duquesne In Toronto
The Notre Dame women's basketball program has had a knack for making history, and the No. 5/6 Fighting Irish will do so once again at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday when they play their first-ever regular-season game in Canada, taking on Duquesne at the sold-out Mattamy Athletic Centre in Toronto. The game will be streamed live and free of charge through the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND, with the host school, Ryerson University, providing the content.
Notre Dame (5-0) remained unbeaten on the young season with a 92-76 win over No. 25 DePaul on Tuesday at Purcell Pavilion. Senior forward (and Canadian Olympian) Natalie Achonwa scored a team-high 17 points, while senior guard Kayla McBride added 16 points in the win.
RankingsNotre Dame is No. 5 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 6 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
Duquesne is not ranked.
Quick HittersNotre Dame has won 28 consecutive regular season games and 15 consecutive home games, both dating back to Dec. 5, 2012 (a 73-61 loss to No. 3 Baylor).
The Fighting Irish have won a school-record 23 consecutive regular season road games (and 30 of their last 35 overall) since a 94-81 loss at top-ranked Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd scored 63 points in Notre Dame's first three games this year. It was the most points by a Fighting Irish player in the season's first three contests since 1998-99, when Danielle Green did so against No. 6 UCLA (23 points), at Butler (23) and against No. 6/4 Duke (20).
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Notre Dame is 29-5 (.853) against ranked opponents, including a 10-1 record at home.
Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 120 consecutive weeks (including the past 50 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 (70 of 81 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 106-14 (.883) record in their careers, putting them on pace to challenge last year's senior class of Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner, who helped Notre Dame to 130 wins in their careers.
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 388-90 (.812) all-time record in 37 seasons at the facility, including a 65-5 (.929) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
With 631 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).
With 719 career wins, McGraw needs 20 victories to move into the top 10 on the NCAA Division I career 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).
The Notre Dame-Duquesne Series
More than two decades after Notre Dame and Duquesne passed like ships in the night for a pair of games during the Dukes' one season (1992-93) in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League), the two programs return to the hardwood to resume their series Sunday afternoon.
Notre Dame won both prior matchups with Duquesne by the same 28-point margin, earning a 95-67 victory at Purcell Pavilion on Feb. 6, 1993, and most recently posting a 91-63 win at Duquesne's A.J. Palumbo Center on March 1, 1993.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Duquesne Met
Stacy Fields scored a career-high 17 points and Audrey Gomez also added a team-best 17 points to lead six Notre Dame players in double figures as the Fighting Irish used a dominant second half to register a 91-63 Midwestern Collegiate Conference win over Duquesne on March 1, 1993, at the A.J. Palumbo Center in Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame's two primary posts, Carey Poor (14 points/10 rebounds) and Kristin Knapp (10 points/game-high 13 rebounds) collected double-doubles, and they nearly were joined in the double-double column by Tootie Jones, who came off the bench to ring up 15 points and nine rebounds.
Another reserve, Duquesne's Kris Sebastian, led all scorers with 18 points, knocking down 6-of-11 shots in just 22 minutes before fouling out.
Notre Dame led nearly from start to finish, but couldn't shake the pesky Dukes during the opening 20 minutes, leading 37-27 at the break. However, the Fighting Irish found their shooting touch in the second half, scoring 54 points on a .595 field goal percentage (22-of-37), highlighted by a 4-of-5 effort from beyond the three-point line.
Other Notre Dame-Duquesne Series TidbitsSunday's game is the third in the past four games for Notre Dame against a former conference opponent, as the Fighting Irish renew their series with former Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League foe Duquesne. Earlier this season, the Fighting Irish defeated Valparaiso (whom they played with against during the 1987-88 season -- head coach Muffet McGraw's first at Notre Dame -- while in the North Star Conference) and DePaul (whom they faced in both the North Star Conference from 1983-88 and again in the BIG EAST Conference from 2005-13).
Notre Dame also is playing the second of three Pennsylvania schools in a four-game stretch, all away from home. The Fighting Irish already won at Penn on Nov. 23, and are slated to visit No. 13/14 Penn State on Wednesday for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Notre Dame will play a fourth school from the Keystone State, also on the road, on Jan. 16, when it travels to fellow ACC newcomer Pittsburgh.
Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride and junior guard Madison Cable both are quite familiar with Duquesne's A.J. Palumbo Center, having played there with their respective high school teams in recent seasons in Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL) tournaments that ultimately paved the road for state titles. McBride led Villa Maria Academy of Erie, Pa., to three WPIAL crowns (2007, 2009, 2010) and two Class AA state championships (2009, 2010) during her prep career, while Cable was the talisman for Mt. Lebanon (Pa.) High School on its run of three consecutive WPIAL and state Class AAAA titles from 2009-11.
Former Notre Dame (and NHL) hockey player and head coach Dave Poulin ('82) now makes his home in Toronto, where he serves as the vice president of hockey operations for the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs and the general manager for the club's top minor league affiliate, the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Notre Dame vs. the Atlantic 10 Conference
Notre Dame is 44-13 (.772) all-time against the current members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, including a 24-7 (.774) record away from home (road and neutral sites combined).
The Fighting Irish also have an active 10-game winning streak against that league's present alignment. The last time Notre Dame lost to a current A-10 school was on Feb. 18, 1995, when La Salle defeated Notre Dame, 84-68, in Philadelphia, when both schools were then part of the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now known as the Horizon League).
It hasn't been that long since Notre Dame last played an Atlantic 10 opponent. In fact, one need only go back to last year's home opener (Nov. 18, 2012) to find the Fighting Irish defeating Massachusetts, 94-50, at Purcell Pavilion. Current Fighting Irish senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride scored a game-high 18 points, while sophomore guards Jewell Loyd and Michaela Mabrey added 13 and 10 points, respectively, as Notre Dame opened up a 53-19 lead and never looked back, shooting 55.4 percent for the game.
Ace Comes Home
Sunday's game will have special meaning for Notre Dame senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa, as the Guelph, Ontario, native returns to her home province for the first time as a college basketball player.
Achonwa (nicknamed "Ace") is one of the rising stars in the Canada Basketball system, having played for the Canada Senior Women's National Team five times since 2009, when she was the youngest player (at age 16) ever to play for her country's top national squad. Her most notable stint with Team Canada came at the 2012 London Olympics, when she helped her country to its first Olympic berth since 2000 and its first spot in the Olympic quarterfinals (medal round) since 1984.
Dating back to her first appearance with Canada Basketball (back in 2008 with the Junior National Team), Achonwa has earned three international medals, taking home two silvers and one bronze. Most recently in September, she garnered her second silver medal as part of the Canadian side that finished second at the FIBA Americas Championship in Xalapa, Mexico (posting a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in the semifinal win over Puerto Rico that qualified her country for the 2014 FIBA World Championships).
Achonwa's complete bio, including her achievements both prior to Notre Dame and since joining the Fighting Irish, can be found on pages 22-24 of this year's team media guide, or by going online and CLICKING HERE.
Notre Dame came into this week's action leading the nation in rebounding margin (now at +22.2 rebounds per game. What makes that total even more remarkable is the fact that spread has been done largely without returning senior All-America forward Natalie Achonwa, who missed the first three games of the campaign while recovering from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery.
The Fighting Irish have collected at least 50 rebounds in three of five games to date, including their first two games, nabbing 54 rebounds against UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9, followed by 52 caroms against No. 19/18 Michigan State two nights later.
This marked the first time the Fighting Irish have had consecutive 50-rebound games since Dec. 12 & 22, 2001, when they did so in home wins over Western Michigan (56 rebounds) and Marquette (54 rebounds).
Notre Dame nearly made it three for three on the boards to open the season, finishing with 49 caroms on Nov. 16 against Valparaiso. The last time the Fighting Irish had three consecutive 50-rebound contests was Jan. 15-29, 1992, in wins over Louisville (56) and at Butler (50), followed by a home loss to Detroit (54).
A Helping Hand
The Fighting Irish also have the (very) early national lead in assists, currently averaging 23.4 assists per game entering this weekend's action. Notre Dame has dished out at least 22 helpers in each of its five games thus far, with the Fighting Irish piling up assists on 68 percent of their made field goals this year (117 of 172).
Firing Out Of The Blocks
Sophomore guard Jewell Loyd stormed out of the gates this season, piling up 63 points in Notre Dame's first three games, wins over UNC Wilmington (19 points), No. 19/18 Michigan State (22 points) and Valparaiso (22 points).
Loyd's point production was the highest for a Fighting Irish player in the opening three contests of a season since 1998-99, when Danielle Green had 66 combined points in wins against No. 6 UCLA at home (23 points), at Butler (23) and No. 6/4 Duke at home (20).
Call Her Mabrey
Another Notre Dame sophomore guard who has sparkled early this year is Michaela Mabrey. The Belmar, N.J., resident has emerged as a key reserve for the Fighting Irish, averaging 10.2 points and 3.4 assists per game with a 2.83 assist/turnover ratio (the latter ranking third in the ACC as of Friday) through the first five contests of the season, after logging 3.0 ppg. and 1.3 apg. with a 1.06 A/TO mark last year.
What's more, Mabrey already has scored in double figures three times this year (including a career-high 19 points in the season opener against UNC Wilmington) after doing so three times in 30 games last season.
Freshman Lindsay Allen got the call from head coach Muffet McGraw to start at point guard in Notre Dame's season opener against UNC Wilmington on Nov. 9 at Purcell Pavilion. Allen finished with 11 points in her debut game, including the team's first five points of the season.
It was the first time a Fighting Irish rookie point guard started the season opener since Nov. 26, 1994, when Mollie Peirick cracked the lineup and played 38 minutes (two points, five rebounds, three assists) in a 65-60 overtime loss at No. 25 Seton Hall.
Allen has not disappointed in her debut campaign, averaging 10.8 points and 4.4 assists per game (the latter ranking fifth in the ACC as of Friday). She also is tied for the ACC lead with a .667 field goal percentage, and is tied for 11th in the conference with 2.4 steals per game.
Let's Talk Turkey
Notre Dame is 23-13 (.639) all-time in its first game after the Thanksgiving holiday, including a 19-7 (.731) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present). The Fighting Irish also have won their last six post-Thanksgiving games (and eight of their last nine), including last year's 76-64 victory at No. 19/22 UCLA behind a (then) career-high 19 points from current sophomore guard Jewell Loyd.
Notre Dame has won a school-record 23 consecutive regular season road games and 30 of its last 35 overall, including last Saturday's road opener at Penn. The Fighting Irish last tasted defeat on the road in the regular season on Nov. 20, 2011, a 94-81 setback at No. 1 Baylor in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
The highlight of this current run came on Jan. 5, 2013, when Notre Dame edged No. 1 Connecticut, 73-72, in Storrs, Conn., earning its fourth all-time win over a top-ranked opponent and first-ever victory on the road.
Prior to the past two-plus years, the school record for consecutive regular season road wins was held by Notre Dame's 2000-01 national championship team that won its first 10 road outings before a 54-53 loss at No. 11/14 Rutgers on Feb. 17, 2001.
The Fighting Irish also have won a school-record 16 consecutive conference regular season road games, with their last loss coming as part of the BIG EAST Conference on Feb. 28, 2011 (a last-second 70-69 loss at No. 12/11 DePaul).
The previous school record for consecutive regular season conference road wins was seven, set numerous times, most recently crossing between the 2001-02 and 2002-03 campaigns.
The previous Notre Dame record for consecutive regular season road victories in any conference was 15, which the Fighting Irish set from Feb. 25, 1989-Feb. 14, 1991 during their time in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (Horizon League).
Next Game: Penn State
Notre Dame takes part in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge for the first time at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Wednesday when the Fighting Irish travel to University Park, Pa., for a matchup with No. 13/14 Penn State (led by former Notre Dame point guard/assistant coach Coquese Washington). The game will be televised live from the Bryce Jordan Center on the Big Ten Network.
-- Chris Masters, Notre Dame Associate Athletic Media Relations Director