Dec. 13, 2013
2013-14 ND Women's Basketball: Game 9
#4/4 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (8-0 / 0-0 ACC) vs. Michigan Wolverines (7-3 / 0-0 Big Ten)
DATE: Dec. 14, 2013
TIME: 7:00 p.m. ET
AT: Ann Arbor, Mich. - Crisler Center (12,707)
SERIES: ND leads 9-7
1ST MTG: UM 93-66 (1/20/79)
LAST MTG: UM 63-59, ot (12/10/08)
TV: mgoblue.com ($) (live)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) / WatchND (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TICKETS: (866) 296-6849
StorylinesThe last five times Notre Dame and Michigan played in Ann Arbor, the games all were decided by 11 points or less.
Notre Dame has won nine in a row and 20 of its last 26 games against Big Ten opponents, including victories earlier this season over No. 19/18 Michigan State and No. 10/11 Penn State.
No. 4 Fighting Irish Back On The Road Saturday At Michigan
With thoughts of final exams and term papers rather than visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, No. 4 Notre Dame heads back on the road Saturday for another tough non-conference challenge as the Fighting Irish take on Michigan at 7 p.m. (ET) at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. The game is being streamed on a subscription basis through the UM web site, while the live Notre Dame Radio Network broadcast can be heard free of charge through the official Fighting Irish multimedia platform, WatchND.
Notre Dame (8-0) has not played since Dec. 7, when the Fighting Irish defeated UCLA, 90-48 at Purcell Pavilion. Notre Dame spotted the Bruins an early two-point lead, then went on a 14-2 run to take the upper hand for good.
Junior guard Madison Cable led four Fighting Irish players in double figures with a career-high 21 points, making 7-of-8 shots, including 5-of-6 from the three-point line as part of Notre Dame's 10-of-17 (.588) effort from distance.
RankingsNotre Dame is No. 4 in the latest Associated Press poll and is No. 4 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
Michigan is not ranked.
Quick HittersAt 8-0, the Fighting Irish are off to the third-best start to a season in program history, as well as the program's best start since 2009-10, when they started 15-0.
Notre Dame has won 31 consecutive regular season games and 16 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 798-316, .716, in 37 seasons of varsity competition).
Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 122 consecutive weeks (including the past 52 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 (72 of 83 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 109-14 (.886) 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 389-90 (.812) all-time record in 37 seasons at the facility, including a 66-5 (.930) record since the arena was renovated prior to the 2009-10 season.
With 634 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 722 career wins, McGraw needs 17 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-Michigan Series
Notre Dame and Michigan will be meeting for the 16th time in their series on Saturday night, with the Fighting Irish holding a 9-7 edge over the Wolverines. The rivalry has largely been a case of defending one's home court, with Michigan owning a 5-2 lead in Ann Arbor, plus a win in the lone neutral site contest (2002 in Grand Rapids), while Notre Dame is 7-1 all-time against the Wolverines at Purcell Pavilion.
The Last Time Notre Dame and Michigan Met
Stephany Skrba scored four of her 20 points in overtime to help Michigan hand No. 8 Notre Dame a 63-59 loss on Dec. 10, 2008, at the Crisler Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Skrba, who made 10 of 11 shots in the game, scored on two straight possessions in the extra period and the Fighting Irish missed a pair of layups in the final seconds. The Wolverines held Notre Dame scoreless for the final 3:24.
After the Fighting Irish turned the ball over leading by two with 14 seconds remaining in regulation, Michigan's Jessica Minnfield made a spinning layup with four seconds left to tie it and then stole a lob pass moments later to ensure overtime. She added a pair of free throws in the final seconds of overtime to ice the game.
Ashley Barlow, who had missed the prior two games due to a concussion, came off the bench to score a team-high 14 points for the Fighting Irish, who had not trailed an opponent in the second half all season prior to their visit to Michigan.
Other Notre Dame-Michigan Series TidbitsThe aggregate point total in the 16-game series is extremely close, with Notre Dame having piled up 1,070 points (66.9 ppg) and Michigan amassing 1,041 points (65.1 ppg).
Nearly half (7) of the 16 games in the series have been decided by 10 points or less, with two going to overtime (both won by Michigan).
After the first two series games in Ann Arbor were blowout wins in Michigan's favor, the past five meetings between the Fighting Irish and Wolverines at Crisler Center have all been decided by 11 points or less. The last two have seen the winning team rally back in the closing moments of regulation to either win or force overtime (in 2006, Notre Dame went on a 10-2 run over the final 47 seconds to pull out the victory).
Notre Dame's 61-58 win at Crisler Center in 2006 was only its second ever in Ann Arbor and first since Dec. 12, 1982 (won by virtually the same score, 62-58).
One of the key matchups to watch for in Saturday's game will be Notre Dame's defense against Michigan's offense. Historically, when the Fighting Irish have held the Wolverines to 65 points or less, they are 8-1 in the series, the lone loss coming in the team's most recent meeting.
Senior forward/tri-captain Ariel Braker hails from Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich., located about 50 miles east of the Michigan campus in Ann Arbor. Braker is the latest of 17 Michigan natives on Notre Dame's all-time roster, second only to Indiana (20).
Saturday's game will take on the feel of a BIG EAST Conference reunion, as Michigan head coach Kim Barnes Arico squares off against Notre Dame for the first time since coming to Ann Arbor from St. John's two seasons ago. The Wolverines' coaching staff also includes several people with BIG EAST ties, including assistant coaches Chester Nichols (formerly an aide at West Virginia) and Joy McCorvey (played for Barnes Arico at St. John's), as well as director of operations Amy Mulligan (former women's basketball sports information director at St. John's) and assistant director of operations Liz Repella (played at West Virginia).
Although it's been five seasons since Notre Dame and Michigan played, Wolverines redshirt senior forward Kendra Seto has faced the Fighting Irish before. As a true freshman in 2009-10, Seto suited up for Vermont when the Catamounts squared off with Notre Dame in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion. Seto shared team-high scoring honors with 14 points, but the Fighting Irish advanced with an 84-66 victory.
Notre Dame associate head coach Carol Owens began her coaching career at Michigan, spending two seasons on the Wolverines' staff in 1993-94 and 1994-95 before joining Muffet McGraw's staff, for whom she has coached for 14 seasons (1995-2005; 2010-present) while helping the Fighting Irish to a 361-89 (.802) record, along with five NCAA Women's Final Fours, three trips to the NCAA title game and the 2001 national championship.
Notre Dame vs. The Big Ten Conference
Notre Dame is 48-49 (.495) all-time against the Big Ten Conference, with an 18-26 (.409) record on the road. The Fighting Irish also are 41-34 (.547) against the Big Ten in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
Of note, Notre Dame has won 20 of its last 26 games vs. Big Ten schools, including a current string of nine in a row since Minnesota ended the 2008-09 Fighting Irish season with a 79-71 win in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Purcell Pavilion.
Notre Dame also has won its last five road games against Big Ten opponents following a 63-59 overtime loss at Michigan on Dec. 10, 2008. The current Fighting Irish road winning streak against the Big Ten continued on Dec. 4 with a 77-67 win at No. 10/11 Penn State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Michigan is the last of three Big Ten opponents on Notre Dame's regular-season schedule, with the Fighting Irish also earning an 81-62 win over No. 19/18 Michigan State on Nov. 11 at Purcell Pavilion.
North Of The Border
Saturday's game is the second of three this year for Notre Dame against a team from the state of Michigan, with the Fighting Irish already defeating No. 19/18 Michigan State (81-62 on Nov. 11 at Purcell Pavilion) and a matchup to come at home against Central Michigan (Dec. 22).
Notre Dame is 56-20 (.737) all-time against Michigan schools, with a 36-8 (.818) mark against the Great Lakes State in the Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present).
The Fighting Irish also have won 13 of their last 14 games against Michigan schools (dating back to the 2005-06 season), with their only loss in that span being a 63-59 overtime setback at Michigan on Dec. 10, 2008.
Getting The Jump
At 8-0, Notre Dame is off to the third-best start in the program's 37-year history. The only times the Fighting Irish opened with a better record than 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 (+18.3 per game). The Fighting Irish have posted double-digit rebounding margins in six 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 entered the week ranked second in the nation in assists at 23.3 per game. Notre Dame has dished out at least 21 helpers in seven games thus far (including a season-high 31 dimes against UCLA on Dec. 7), with the Fighting Irish piling up assists on 67.1 percent of their made field goals this year (186 of 277).
Dialing Long Distance
Although not usually a primary part of the Notre Dame arsenal, the Fighting Irish have found the three-point shot much to their liking this season. Notre Dame currently ranks second in the nation with a .449 three-point percentage, with three different players connecting at better than 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Junior guard Madison Cable leads the way with an ACC-best .643 three-point percentage, thanks in part to her 5-for-6 effort from long range in the Dec. 7 win over UCLA. Cable's five triples were the most for a Notre Dame player in a game since Jan. 23, 2012, when Skylar Diggins made five in a home win over Tennessee.
The Fighting Irish also connected on 10-of-17 three-pointers in that victory over UCLA, their highest production from the arc in nearly four years, dating back to a similar 10-triple performance on Jan. 30, 2010, at Syracuse.
Notre Dame has won a school-record 24 consecutive regular season road games and 31 of its last 36 overall, including the Dec. 4 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 Dec. 4 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 10.0 points and 3.8 assists per game, while ranking second in the ACC with a 2.73 assist/turnover ratio through the first eight 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 8.8 points and 3.9 assists per game (the latter ranking 12th in the ACC). She also is second in the ACC with a .659 field goal percentage, ranks eighth with a 2.07 assist/turnover ratio, and is tied for 15th in the conference with 1.8 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 17th in program history with 1,325 career points, having moved up one spot on Dec. 7 with her 12 points against UCLA to pass former teammate Devereaux Peters (1,319 from 2007-12).
Meanwhile, Achonwa stands 27th in Notre Dame history with 1,120 points, with the next player above her on the program's career scoring ladder being a former teammate -- Becca Bruszewski had 1,148 points from 2007-11.
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 755 rebounds and 22 double-doubles, taking over sole possession of the 10th position on both charts after tallying 21 points and 10 rebounds in the Dec. 4 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 798-316 (.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 794 wins, while the Wolfpack have recorded 786 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: Central Michigan
Notre Dame will step away from the hardwood for the next eight days for its final exam period before returning to action at 2 p.m. (ET) Dec. 22, playing host to the reigning Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan at Purcell Pavilion. The game will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
CMU (3-4) has faced a difficult non-conference schedule that already has included a pair of top-10 teams in Kentucky and Duke. The Chippewas will come off their exam break this weekend, traveling to South Dakota State on Sunday, followed by a Wednesday matinee at home against Prairie View A&M before venturing to South Bend next weekend.
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director