Dec. 6, 2013
2013-14 ND Women's Basketball: Game 8
#4/5 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. UCLA Bruins (3-4 / 0-0 Pac-12)
DATE: Dec. 7, 2013
TIME: Noon ET
AT: Notre Dame, Ind. - Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
SERIES: UCLA leads 9-5
1ST MTG: UCLA 50-45 (12/5/81)
LAST MTG: ND 76-64 (11/23/12)
TV: WatchND (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (574) 631-7356 / und.com/buytickets
StorylinesNotre Dame plays the opener of a basketball doubleheader at Purcell Pavilion on Saturday, with the Fighting Irish men hosting Delaware in the Gotham Classic at 4 p.m. (ET).
Fans are invited to bring canned goods to Saturday's game for donation to the Food Bank of Northern Indiana.
A ticket stub from either of Saturday's basketball games is good for admission to that night's NCAA Men's Soccer Championship quarterfinal between Notre Dame and Michigan State at Alumni Stadium (7 p.m. ET).
No. 4/5 Fighting Irish Back Home For Saturday Matinee Against UCLA
The schedule doesn't get any easier for No. 4/5 Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish return to Purcell Pavilion at noon (ET) Saturday to play host to UCLA. The game will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
The Fighting Irish (7-0) earned their third win over a Top 25 team this year on Wednesday with a 77-67 win at No. 10/11 Penn State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Notre Dame went on a 29-8 run midway through the first half to erase an early six-point deficit and roll to the win.
Senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa posted her second consecutive double-double (21 points, 10 rebounds) while freshman forward Taya Reimer added her team-high third double-double this season (12 points, 10 rebounds).
RankingsNotre Dame is No. 4 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 5 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
UCLA is not ranked.
Quick HittersAt 7-0, the Fighting Irish have tied the third-best start to a season in program history, duplicating the efforts of the 2004-05 and 2008-09 squads, while recording the program's best start since 2009-10, when they started 15-0.
Notre Dame has won 30 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 24 consecutive regular season road games (and 31 of their last 36 overall) since a 94-81 loss at top-ranked Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT championship game.
Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Notre Dame is 30-5 (.857) against ranked opponents, including a 10-1 record at home.
The Fighting Irish are closing in on becoming the 27th NCAA Division I women's basketball program to record 800 all-time wins (they currently are 797-316, .716, in 37 seasons of varsity competition).
Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 121 consecutive weeks (including the past 51 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 (71 of 82 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 108-14 (.885) 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 633 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 721 career wins, McGraw needs 18 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-UCLA Series
Notre Dame and UCLA will square off for the 15th time in their series on Saturday, with the Bruins holding a 9-5 edge over the Fighting Irish, although Notre Dame has won three of the past four meetings.
This will be UCLA's first visit to Purcell Pavilion since 2010, when the Bruins edged the Fighting Irish, 86-83 in double overtime. However, Notre Dame still maintains a 3-2 series edge over UCLA in South Bend.
The Last Time Notre Dame and UCLA Met
Skylar Diggins was nowhere near her best against UCLA. Fortunately for the Fighting Irish, her teammates did more than enough to beat the Bruins.
Jewell Loyd had 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, Kayla McBride scored 18 points, and fifth-ranked Notre Dame wasn't threatened in the second half in beating the No. 19/22 Bruins, 76-64 on Nov. 23, 2012, at Pauley Pavilion in Los Angeles.
Diggins had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists, but shot 5 of 17 and committed four turnovers.
Natalie Achonwa had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Fighting Irish, who shot 29 of 60 (48.3 percent) to UCLA's 24 of 61 (39.3 percent).
Loyd, who shot 8 of 12, including 2 of 3 from three-point range, made three straight baskets midway through the first half to cap a 15-2 run that put the Fighting Irish ahead for good.
Achonwa scored four points during an 8-2 run to start the second half, giving the Fighting Irish a 44-31 lead. UCLA drew within eight on two straight baskets by Markel Walker, but that was as close as the Bruins would get. Notre Dame then went on another 8-2 spurt for a 57-43 advantage with 10 1/2 minutes left.
Walker had 21 points and nine rebounds and Alyssia Brewer added 10 points for UCLA.
The Last Time Notre Dame and UCLA Met At Purcell Pavilion
Darxia Morris scored five points in the second overtime and came up with a big steal to help No. 15 UCLA beat No. 12 Notre Dame, 86-83 on Nov. 18, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion.
Jasmine Dixon had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Bruins, while Morris added 17 and Markel Walker chipped in 16.
Skylar Diggins led Notre Dame with 22 points and Natalie Novosel tied her (then) career high with 19 points.
Morris opened the second extra period with a three-pointer and Dixon had a basket as the Bruins went up 84-81.
With the Fighting Irish trailing by one, Novosel missed two at the line with eight seconds left before Walker misfired on two at the other end.
Notre Dame called timeout with 4.2 seconds remaining, but Morris stole the inbounds pass and hit two from the line. The Bruins finally wrapped it up when Diggins' long attempt was off at the buzzer.
Novosel hit a follow-up shot with 8.9 seconds left in the first overtime to give the Fighting Irish a 79-77 lead, but UCLA got the ball down the floor and Dixon got a nice pass from Walker for a layup with 1.9 seconds remaining.
Morris also sank a tying three-pointer with 8.8 seconds left in regulation. Diggins then missed a short shot just before the buzzer, sending the game to overtime.
UCLA reeled off eight straight points with Rebekah Gardner hitting a backdoor layup and Dixon driving for a banker to make it 58-51 with just under seven minutes remaining.
The Fighting Irish rallied and finally tied it at 63 on Becca Bruszewski's basket. Novosel then added two buckets inside the final 1:15, but Notre Dame couldn't close the deal, as the Bruins kept their poise even when the noise at Notre Dame's home court grew louder.
Other Notre Dame-UCLA Series TidbitsHalf of the 14 games in the series have been decided by single digits, including three in overtime (two in double OT, nearly half of the five multiple-overtime games in Notre Dame history).
Expect to see some offensive fireworks in this series, with three of the past four games featuring both teams topping the 80-point mark and at least one side doing so in five of the past six meetings.
Notre Dame is 25-15 (.625) all-time against teams from the state of California, including a 10-3 (.769) record at home and a 23-7 (.767) record in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
UCLA's fellow Pac-12 Conference member, California, is the most recent program from the Golden State to visit Purcell Pavilion on March 20, 2012, with Notre Dame defeating the Golden Bears, 73-62 in the second round of the NCAA Championship.
Of the five multiple-overtime games in Notre Dame history, four have come at Purcell Pavilion, including UCLA's 86-83 double-overtime victory over the Fighting Irish on Nov. 18, 2010, at Purcell Pavilion.
The one road double-overtime game in Notre Dame history also involved UCLA, with the Fighting Irish edging the Bruins, 93-91 in Nov. 30, 1997, at Pauley Pavilion.
The Notre Dame-UCLA men's basketball rivalry is arguably the most famous in NCAA history, punctuated by the memorable 71-70 Fighting Irish win over the Bruins on Jan. 19, 1974, at Purcell Pavilion (then known as the Joyce Center), snapping UCLA's record 88-game winning streak. Notre Dame's Dwight Clay hit the decisive shot in that victory from the deep right corner in front of the Fighting Irish bench with 29 seconds remaining -- at the time, the team benches were located on the north side of the court (currently where the broadcast tables sit), and the location of Clay's historic shot is now directly in front of the ramp leading to the Notre Dame women's basketball locker room off the northeast corner of the court.
Notre Dame senior forward/tri-captain Natalie Achonwa and UCLA sophomore guard Nirra Fields are two of the rising stars in the Canada Basketball system. Achonwa has played with her country's Senior National Team since 2009 (most recently helping Canada to a silver medal at the FIBA Americas Championship in September in Xalapa, Mexico), while Fields was added to the player pool for that squad this past summer. However, she and Achonwa did not play for Canada in the same tournaments due to their various summer school schedules and other commitments, including Achonwa's participation on Notre Dame's European tour in August.
Notre Dame vs. The Pac-12 Conference
The Fighting Irish are 24-20 (.545) all-time against current Pac-12 Conference teams, with a 10-3 (.769) record at home. Notre Dame also has won 21 of its last 28 games against Pac-12 schools since a 93-72 loss at UCLA in the first round of the 1992 NCAA Championship (in what was the first-ever NCAA tournament game for the Fighting Irish).
Notre Dame's win at UCLA last year (76-64 on Nov. 23 at Pauley Pavilion) was its only game against a Pac-12 opponent in 2012-13. However, the Fighting Irish will play two Pac-12 teams in their next four games, with a first-ever matchup against Oregon State on the docket Dec. 29 in Corvallis, Ore.
This will mark the second time in three seasons Notre Dame has played two Pac-12 teams in the same year (it defeated USC, 80-58 at the Junkanoo Jam in the Bahamas during the regular season, then downed California at home in the second round of the NCAA Championship).
However, this will be the first time the Fighting Irish have played two Pac-12 teams in the same regular season since 2002-03, when they knocked off both USC (69-57) and Arizona State (81-52) on the road. It should be noted in both 2003-04 and 2005-06, Notre Dame played future Pac-12 members Colorado and Utah, respectively (along with USC), but neither school was part of its current conference at the time it faced the Fighting Irish (Colorado was in the Big 12, Utah was in the Mountain West).
Getting The Jump
At 7-0, Notre Dame has tied the third-best start in the program's 37-year history, previously accomplished in 2004-05 and 2008-09. The only times the Fighting Irish opened with a better record that this season were in 2000-01 (when they reeled off a school-record 23 consecutive wins en route to a 34-2 final record and the program's first national championship) and 2009-10 (when they started 15-0 on the way to a 29-6 record and spot in the NCAA Sweet Sixteen).
Notre Dame came into this week's action leading the nation in rebounding margin (currently +19.0 per game). The Fighting Irish have posted double-digit rebounding margins in five games this season, including four games when Notre Dame had a +20 rebounding margin or better.
The Fighting Irish also have collected at least 50 rebounds in three games, including their first two outings, 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 ranked second in the nation in assists as of Monday, currently averaging 22.1 assists per game. Notre Dame has dished out at least 21 helpers in six games thus far, with the Fighting Irish piling up assists on 64.3 percent of their made field goals this year (155 of 241).
Notre Dame has won a school-record 24 consecutive regular season road games and 31 of its last 36 overall, including Wednesday's victory at No. 10/11 Penn State. 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).
Jewell Of Denial
Notre Dame's 77-67 win at No. 10/11 Penn State on Wednesday was due in no small part to the Fighting Irish defensive effort (specifically sophomore guard Jewell Loyd) on Lady Lions' sharpshooting All-America guard and Preseason Big Ten Player of the Year, Maggie Lucas.
Lucas came into the contest averaging 22.2 points per game, but under constant pressure from Loyd and her teammates, as well as some ill-timed foul trouble, Lucas wound up scoring just seven points (1-8 FG, 4-4 FT), and was held scoreless until 5:18 remained in the game, when she converted a pair of 1+1 free throws in the bonus situation.
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 10.3 points and 3.3 assists per game, while leading the ACC with a 2.88 assist/turnover ratio through the first seven 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 four 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 9.6 points and 4.1 assists per game (the latter ranking ninth in the ACC). She also leads the ACC with a .684 field goal percentage, ranks seventh with a 2.07 assist/turnover ratio, and is tied for 13th in the conference with 2.0 steals per game.
Notre Dame's 1,000-Point Scorers
Senior tri-captains Kayla McBride and Natalie Achonwa will spend their final season at Notre Dame steadily climbing the program's all-time scoring list, after both entered the Fighting Irish 1,000-Point Club last year.
McBride currently ranks 18th in program history with 1,313 career points, having moved up one spot on Wednesday with her 13 points at No. 10/11 Penn State.
Meanwhile, Achonwa stands 27th in Notre Dame history with 1,108 points, also stepping up a rung on the ladder on Wednesday with her game-high 21 points in the win at No. 10/11 Penn State.
Coming Up Aces
Senior forward/tri-captains Natalie Achonwa (nicknamed "Ace") also is making her way up Notre Dame's career charts in both rebounds and double-doubles. She currently ranks 10th in both categories with 746 rebounds and 22 double-doubles, taking over sole possession of the 10th position on both charts after tallying 21 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday's win at No. 10/11 Penn State.
Achonwa continues to remain among the top 10 in school history with a .541 career field goal percentage, presently ranking ninth in program annals.
Irish Closing In On 800 Wins
Notre Dame is on the doorstep of becoming the 27th program in NCAA Division I women's basketball history (and fourth Atlantic Coast Conference school) to record 800 victories, currently standing three wins short of the milestone. The Fighting Irish have posted a 797-316 (.716) record in their 37 seasons of varsity competition, dating back to the 1977-78 campaign.
The last school to reach the 800-win mark was LSU (which did so on Nov. 25, 2012, at Florida International), with Notre Dame's fellow ACC members, Duke and North Carolina State, also nearing 800 all-time victories (the Blue Devils currently have 793 wins, while the Wolfpack have recorded 785 wins). Currently, North Carolina, Virginia and Maryland are the three ACC members in the 800-victory club.
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).
Next Game: Michigan
Notre Dame will be off for the next week before returning to the hardwood at 7 p.m. (ET) Dec. 14, when it takes on Michigan at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
This will mark the first meeting between the schools in women's basketball since Dec. 10, 2008, when the Wolverines edged the Fighting Irish, 63-59 in overtime in Ann Arbor.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director