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    With Finals Over, Irish Hit The Road

    FIGHTING IRISH Junior Ruth Riley is averaging 14.7 points per game for the Irish.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Junior Ruth Riley is averaging 14.7 points per game for the Irish.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Dec. 16, 1999

    No. 11/7 Notre Dame (5-2) at
    Florida International (2-2)
    Date: Sunday, December 15, 1999
    Orange Bowl Women's Basketball Fab Four
    Places: Golden Panther Arena (5,000)
    Time: 4:00 p.m. (EST)
    Radio: All Notre Dame games are broadcast on WJVA-AM (1580 in South Bend). Jeremy Gray provides play-by-play for games.

    TODAY'S GAME -- After a week's hiatus from competition due to final exams, the Notre Dame women's basketball team (5-2) returns to action this afternoon against Florida International (2-2) in the second game of the Orange Bowl Women's Basketball Fab Four. In their last outing (December 11), the Irish had their biggest win of the season in posting a 30-point decision, 84-54, over previously unbeaten Michigan State. Notre Dame is ranked 11th in the Associated Press and seventh in the ESPN/USA Today rankings this week.

    The Irish fell four spots in the AP poll after being ranked seventh in last week's ranking. Notre Dame fell out of the top 10 two weeks ago for the first time since the November 16, 1998 ranking. Since that time, the Irish have been ranked 20 of the 22 weeks in the top 10 of the AP Poll. Prior to that point, the Irish had been ranked a school-record 19 consecutive weeks. Notre Dame fell just one spot in the ESPN/USA Today ranking and has been in the top 10 of that poll for 22 consecutive weeks.

    Notre Dame is playing its sixth road game of the season after opening up the 1999-2000 campaign with just two home games in its first eight contests. Following this afternoon's game, the Irish will be at home for four straight games and will not play another road game until January 8 against Georgetown.

    Notre Dame Probable Starting Lineup
    No. Name               Hometown        Pos.  Ht.  Cl.  PPG   RPG      
    32  Julie Henderson*** Ann Arbor, MI   F/C   6-3  Sr.   4.4  3.9      
    00  Ruth Riley**       Macy, IN         C    6-5  Jr.  14.7  5.0      
     3  Ericka Haney*      Toledo, OH      G/F   6-1  So.  10.7  5.2
    22  Alicia Ratay       Lake Zurich, IL  G   5-11  Fr.  15.0  4.9      
    33  Niele Ivey**       St. Louis, MO    G    5-8  Sr.  12.9  3.7
    

    Off The Bench 11 Karen Swanson Westlake, OH G 5-7 Fr. 0.2 0.4 12 Danielle Green*** Chicago, IL G 5-8 Sr. 9.5 3.0 23 Monique Hernandez Rio Rancho, NM G 5-9 Fr. 2.1 1.1 31 Amanda Barksdale Friendswood, TX F 6-3 Fr. 0.6 0.7 41 Imani Dunbar** San Angelo, TX G 5-7 Jr. 1.3 1.6 44 Meaghan Leahy* Wilbraham, MA F 6-4 So. 3.6 4.1 50 Kelley Siemon** Edina, MN F 6-2 Jr. 6.0 4.1

    * Indicates monograms won

    MICHIGAN STATE REVIEW - Notre Dame rebounded from its loss to Purdue (71-61) with a convincing 84-54 win over Michigan State as the Irish defeated the Spartans for the second straight year. Three Notre Dame players scored in double figures as Ruth Riley led all scorers with 18 points and six blocked shots. Riley was nine-of-11 from the field in 24 minutes of action. Ericka Haney scored in double figures for the fifth time as she scored 14 points and grabbed a team-high seven rebounds. Haney was seven-for-11 from the field in the contest. Niele Ivey was the third Irish player in double figures as she tossed in 14 points to go along with her game-high 11 assists from her second double double of the season. Ivey had just one turnover in the game and also finished with five rebounds and three steals.

    Notre Dame shot 52.8 percent from the field connecting on 38 of its 82 shots. The Irish dished off a season-high 32 assists and had just 15 turnovers in the contest. Notre Dame's defense limited the Spartans to just 32.8 percent shooting from the field and 24 turnovers in the game. The Irish also had a 44-37 rebounding advantage.

    IRISH CAPTURE WACHOVIA WOMEN'S INVITATIONAL - Notre Dame captured the Wachovia Women's Invitational Tournament in Richmond, Va., as the Irish beat North Carolina and Liberty in the seventh annual event. The tournament is recognized as one of the most prestigious in-season events.

    Junior center Ruth Riley was named MVP of the tournament in addition to being selected along with freshman Alicia Ratay to the all-tournament team. Riley scored 32 points (the third 30-point performance of her career) against Liberty in the championship game as she connected on 12-of-14 shots from the field and was a perfect eight-for-eight from the free throw line. In addition, she had seven rebounds and two blocked shots in 29 minutes of action. Against North Carolina, she registered 12 points, seven rebounds and four blocked shots in 28 minutes. For the tournament she averaged 22.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.0 blocked shots. Riley also was 17-of-22 (.773) from the field and a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe.

    Ratay had the first 30-point performance of her career, and second-ever by a Notre Dame freshman, when she tossed in 32 points on a 12-for-15 shooting performance against North Carolina. The Irish rookie also hit six-of-eight from three-point range. In the championship tilt, she was the only other Notre Dame player in double figures as she netted 17 points, grabbed four rebounds and dished off five assists playing a season-high 36 minutes. For the tournament, she averaged 24.5 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.5 steals. Ratay shot 18-of-25 (.720) percent from the field and was seven-for-11 (.636) from three-point range.

    POLL WATCHING - Notre Dame is ranked 11th in the Associated Press poll and seventh in the ESPN/USA Today ranking this week. Notre Dame slipped out of the top 10 of the AP poll for just the second time in 22 weeks. Prior to the ranking of November 29 of this year, Notre Dame had been ranked a school-record 19 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the AP poll dating back to November 16, 1998. Coach Muffet McGraw's squad has now been ranked 22 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the ESPN/USA Today ranking. Notre Dame has earned a top 25 ranking for school-record 25 consecutive weeks, breaking the old mark of 24 weeks set from February 5, 1996 thru March 10, 1997.

    HEAD COACH MUFFET McGRAW - Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw is in her 13th season with the Irish and 17th as a collegiate coach. She has guided Notre Dame to four straight NCAA tournament appearances and six overall. McGraw led the Irish to the 1997 Final Four as her team claimed the East Regional championship. In 1998, McGraw's squad finished with a 22-10 mark and advanced to the Sweet 16. In 12-plus seasons at Notre Dame, she has a record of 266-112 (.704), and in 17-plus campaigns overall, her teams have registered a 354-153 (.698) ledger. Prior to coming to Notre Dame, she spent five seasons at Lehigh where she compiled an 88-41 record for a .683 winning percentage. Last season, McGraw, after guiding the Irish to their sixth consecutive 20-win season, was named as a finalist for the Naismith Women's Basketball and Associated Press coach-of-the-year awards.

    PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER MAGAZINE TO FOLLOW IRISH ALL SEASON - Annette John-Hall, a feature writer for the Philadelphia Inquirer will be following head coach Muffet McGraw, a native of Pottsville, Pa., and the Irish all season long and feature them in the magazine section of that publication. She will file stories throughout the season on McGraw and her squad. Hall has already written three features introducing the team to the readership, it most recent installment was released on Thursday.

    IRISH IN THE JOYCE CENTER - Since its inaugural season in 1977-78, Notre Dame has played all of its games at the Joyce Center. The Irish own a 198-65 mark for a .753 winning percentage since its first season. Last season, Notre Dame won a school-record 12 games at home en route to a 12-1 home mark.

    SERIES RECORD VERSUS FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL - This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams.

    RILEY, RATAY COP BIG EAST HONORS - Ruth Riley was named co-BIG EAST Player of the Week and Alicia Ratay was named BIG EAST Rookie of the Week for the week of December 6 after leading the Irish to three wins. Riley, who earned the honor for the fourth time in her career, averaged 19.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 blocked shots in Notre Dame's wins over Butler, North Carolina and Liberty. She also shot 77.4 percent of her shots from the field as she connected was 24-of-31. Riley, who led the nation in field goal percentage a year ago, has connected on 31-of-42 field goal attempts this season. Ratay, the team's leading scorer with a 14.8 points per game average, averaged 21.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 2.3 steals while shooting 71.0 percent from the field (22-31).

    HANEY STEPPING UP - Sophomore Ericka Haney, who has started three games for the Irish this season, is averaging double figures in scoring (11.1 ppg.) and leads the team in rebounding (5.4 rpg.). Haney had 14 points and seven rebounds in Notre Dame's last outing, which marked the second time this season she has been the team's leading rebounder. She has scored in double figures in five games and recorded career-highs of 18 points and 14 rebounds in a win over North Carolina for her first career double double. Haney is shooting 48.1 percent from the field as she has converted 37-of-77 field goal attempts.

    CLOSING IN ON A 1,000 - Junior Ruth Riley heads into this afternoon's contest needing just 15 points to reach the 1,000-point mark and become the 15th player in Irish women's basketball history to reach that plateau. Riley, who has 985 career points, has played in 70 games in two-plus seasons and has a 14.1 career scoring average.

    RILEY NEARLY PERFECT FROM THE LINE - While the Irish have struggled as a team from the free throw line this season, Ruth Riley has missed just twice and is 17-of-19 from the line (.895). Heading into the game against Purdue on December 8, Riley had made all 12 of her free throw attempts on the season. She hit her first three attempts, but missed for the first time on her 16th attempt. In the game, she was five-for-seven from the line. Riley was a perfect eight-for-eight from the field against Liberty in the championship game of the Wachovia Women's Basketball Invitational.

    HOT STUFF - As a team, Notre Dame has hit 51.2 percent (209-408) of its shots from the field. That number has been helped by the squad's last five games as the Irish have connected on a blistering 54.0 percent connecting on 157-of-291 field goal attempts in those contests. In four of Notre Dame's last five games, the Irish have shot better than 50 percent from the field.

    DOUBLE DIPPER - Guard Niele Ivey had her second double double of the season when she scored 14 points and dished off 11 assists against Michigan State. It marked the sixth double double of her career and the sixth time in which she has dished off 10 or more assists in a game. Ivey leads the team with 45 assists for a 6.43 average.

    RILEY NOTCHES THIRD 30-POINT PERFORMANCE - Ruth Riley's 32-point performance in the championship game of the Wachovia Women's Invitational marked the third time in her career that she scored better than 30 points in a game. Riley had two 30-plus efforts last season, both against Providence College, as she scored 36 and a school-record 41.

    A ROOKIE RARITY - Alicia Ratay's 32-point performance against North Carolina was the first 30-point outing of her brief career and marked just the second time an Irish freshman has scored better than 30 points in a game. The only other Notre Dame rookie to record a 30-point performance was Michelle Marciniak as she scored 33 versus Georgia in a 90-86 loss on December 8, 1991.

    RILEY NAMED FINALIST FOR NAISMITH PLAYER OF THE YEAR - On everyone's preseason All-America teams, Ruth Riley, a third-team Associated Press All-America selection in 1999, is one of 10 finalists for the 1999-2000 Naismith Women's Basketball Player of the Year Award which is presented by the Atlanta Tip-off Club. Riley and the nine other candidates were selected by a vote of the Board of Selectors comprised of leading college basketball coaches, journalists and basketball analysts. She is the first Notre Dame women's basketball player to be named a finalist for the award, which was first presented in 1983. The nine other finalists include: Svetlana Abrosimova (Connecticut), Edwina Brown (Texas), Tamika Catchings (Tennessee), Tamicha Jackson (Louisiana Tech), Maylana Martin (UCLA), Kelly Miller (Georgia), Lynn Pride (Kansas), Semeka Randall (Tennessee) and Nikki Teasley (North Carolina).

    RILEY RECORDS 500 REBOUNDS - Ruth Riley grabbed her 500th career rebound against Butler on December 1 and is now 11th on the all-time career rebounding list with 525 boards. In 70 career games, Riley has a 7.5 rebounding average.

    NON-CONFERENCE LOSSES A RARITY - Notre Dame's recent loss to Purdue marked just the second loss the Irish had suffered to a non-conference opponent in two seasons. The Irish were a perfect 8-0 against non-conference foes during the 1998-99 regular season. When Notre Dame lost to Illinois on November 27, it marked the first regular season loss to a non-conference opponent in 12 games. Heading into its matchup with the Illini, Notre Dame's last non-conference regular-season loss was to Wisconsin (89-77) on December 8, 1997.

    NOTRE DAME TO TAKE ON 10 NCAA TOURNAMENT FOES - The 1999-2000 Notre Dame women's basketball slate features 10 teams which last season participated in the 64-team 1999 NCAA tournament field. Notre Dame has already played Toledo, Illinois, North Carolina, Liberty and Purdue with six other tourney teams on the slate: Boston College (Feb. 5), Connecticut (Feb. 26), Florida International (Dec. 19), Marquette (Jan. 2), Rutgers (Feb. 19) and Toledo (Nov. 20).

    BIG EAST DEBUTS 16-GAME SLATE - The BIG EAST Conference will begin its 16-game league schedule this season. That's a change from the 18-game format which had been in existence since the league expanded to 13 teams in 1995-96. In 1999-2000, Notre Dame will play Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Miami and St. John's twice and has single games against West Virginia, Seton Hall, Syracuse, Providence, Villanova, Rutgers and Connecticut.

    RATAY NETS 18 IN DEBUT - Freshman guard Alicia Ratay, a first-team Parade High School All-American, scored 18 points in her collegiate debut. It was the most by an Irish rookie in her first college game since Michelle Marciniak scored 16 points in an 86-70 loss to Penn State on November 22, 1991. Ratay's five field goals were all from three-point range as she hit five-of-eight field goals from beyond the arc.

    RILEY HELPS USA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL CAPTURE SILVER MEDAL - Ruth Riley was one of 12 players selected to the 1999 World University Games Team. She and 1999 graduate Sheila McMillen (now an assistant coach at Western Michigan) were among the 44 players invited to Colorado Springs, Colo., for the five-day tryout. The team, coached by Penn State's Rene Portland, took home the silver medal after posting a 4-2 mark in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, site of the basketball competition. Riley appeared in all nine games with the USA and started five of those contests and was the team's third-leading scorer and second-leading rebounder as she averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds, with a .630 field-goal percentage. At a tournament in Madrid Spain prior to the start of the World University Games, the USA Women's Basketball squad posted a 3-0 mark and captured first-place. During those three games, she averaged 7.3 points and 5.3 rebounds. This was Riley's second stint with the USA Women's basketball program. In the summer of 1998, she was a member of the USA Women's Basketball Select Team.

    SIEMON TOURS WITH BIG EAST TEAM - Junior Kelley Siemon averaged 6.6 points and 4.6 rebounds in helping the BIG EAST/Nike Women's Basketball All-Stars to a 4-1 record in a '99 summer tour of Belgium and Germany. Siemon scored 14 points in the win over Aalst (Division) and had seven points and eight rebounds in a win over the Belgian Junior National Team. The team was coached by Boston College's Cathy Inglese.

    THERE'S A NEW KID ON THE BLOCK - Coquese Washington, who played for Notre Dame from 1989-93, has joined head coach Muffet McGraw's coaching staff this season as an assistant coach. She replaces Letitia Bowen who has become the administrative assistant to the women's basketball program while attending graduate school. Washington, the Notre Dame record holder for steals (307) and steals average (2.7), has played professionally the last three years. During the summers of 1998 and 1999, she has been a member of the Women's National Basketball Association's (WNBA) New York Liberty. This past season, her Liberty advanced to the finals of the WNBA Championship. The 5-6 guard, who led the Irish in steals all four seasons she was at Notre Dame, spent the 1996-97 season on the roster of the Portland Power franchise of the now defunct American Basketball League (ABL).

    IRISH SIGN TWO - Notre Dame signed two players listed among the top 40 prep players in the country during the early signing period. Jeneka Joyce, a 5-9 shooting guard from Topeka, Kan., and Le'Tania Severe, a 5-9 point guard from Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., were rated 26th and 40th, respectively, by Blue Star Basketball.

    PRESEASON HONORS FOR RILEY - The name Ruth Riley appears on preseason All-America teams of several publications. Notre Dame also is ranked in the polls of every preseason publication.

    Street & Smith's:  Ruth Riley - High Honorable Mention 
                            Notre Dame - 7th 
    Athlon College Basketball: Notre Dame - 8th
    Basketball News:  Notre Dame - 8th
    Women's Basketball News Service: Ruth Riley - Second Team, Alicia 
                                     Ratay - All-Freshman Third Team,
                                     Notre Dame - 9th
    Women's Basketball Journal: Ruth Riley - Second Team, 
                                Notre Dame-25th
    

    QUICK PLAYER BIOS:

    • Amanda Barksdale has seen action in all seven contests... she scored her first career points against Michigan State when she made two of her three field goal attempts for four points.
    • Imani Dunbar had started the previous four outings against Butler, North Carolina, Liberty and Purdue before the Michigan State game... earned first career start against the Bulldogs... in that game, she dished off a personal best five assists in the game while playing a career-high 22 minutes... provided a spark off the bench against Toledo as she played nine minutes and had career-highs of four rebounds and four assists.
    • Danielle Green came off the bench to score a season-high 16 points and grab seven rebounds in season opener at Toledo... returned to the Irish lineup against Purdue after serving a three-game suspension following the Illinois game... averaging 9.5 points and 3.0 rebounds.
    • Ericka Haney has started three games this season with most recent coming against Michigan State... earned starts in the first two games of the season... first career start came against Toledo in the season opener... has scored in double figures in five games... recorded first career double-double with personal bests of 18 points and 14 rebounds against North Carolina... tallied a season-high 11 points against Butler and also added five rebounds and three assists in the game... scored 10 points in her first collegiate start in the season opener at Toledo... averaging 11.1 points and a team-leading 5.4 rebounds per game.
    • Julie Henderson has been in the Irish starting lineup the last five games after coming off the bench in the first two contests of the season... has had season-highs of six points in three games this season versus North Carolina, Liberty and Michigan State... grabbed a season-high eight rebounds against Purdue, one shy of her career best... had four rebounds against the Tar Heels and six versus the Spartans... averaging 4.4 points and 3.9 rebounds.
    • Monique Hernandez has played in all seven games... played a season-high 15 minutes in both the Butler and North Carolina contests... scored four points and grabbed four rebounds against Butler.
    • Niele Ivey has started all seven games and is averaging 12.9 points, 3.7 rebounds and 6.43 assists... has registered two double-doubles, most recent was in last outing against Michigan State in which she scored 14 points and dished off 11 assists (the sixth double-doubel of her career)... had first double-double of the season with a season-high 17 points and career-best 13 assists versus North Carolina in the Wachovia Women's Invitational Tournament... the 13 assists in the game also marked a tournament record... has scored in double figures in five games this season.
    • Meaghan Leahy has come off the bench for the Irish in all seven games... averaging 3.6 points and 4.1 rebounds... had a career-high nine points and tied her personal best with nine rebounds while playing 24 minutes (also a career-high) against Butler... scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds in 18 minutes of action against Illinois... grabbed five rebounds against Michigan State and dished off a career-high four assists.
    • Alicia Ratay is the leading scorer on the team averaging 15.0 ppg.... turned in only the second 30-point performance by an Irish rookie when she scored 32 points against North Carolina... has scored in double figures in four games... in her collegiate debut, scored a game-high 18 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 33 minutes of action... it was the most points by an Irish rookie in a season opener since 1991... tallied 16 points and dished off seven assists against Butler... earned BIG EAST Rookie of the Week honors for the week of December 6 and was selected to the all-tournament team at the Wachovia Women's Invitational Tournament.
    • Karen Swanson is a walk-on freshman who has played in five games.
    • Ruth Riley was plagued by foul trouble in the first two games of the season and played only 28 minutes in those outings... had the third 30-plus outing of her career when she scored 32 points against Liberty in the championship game of the Wachovia Women's Basketball Invitational... averaging 14.7 points and 5.0 rebounds... grabbed her 500th rebound against Butler... has been in double figures scoring in six of seven games... season-high eight rebounds versus Purdue... blocked a season-high seven shots versus Butler... was the only player in double figures against Illinois with 16 points in 18 minutes of action... played only 10 minutes in the season opener at Toledo because of foul trouble... held scoreless in the contest for the first time in 64 career games... scored 18 points and blocked six shots versus Michigan State.
    • Kelley Siemon has come off the bench in Notre Dame's last five games after starting the season opener against Toledo... scored a season-high 12 points and grabbed five rebounds against North Carolina... had a season-high seven rebounds against Toledo... has fouled out in two games... averaging 6.0 points and 4.1 rebounds.

    NOTRE DAME POLL WATCHING
    (Week By Week)

    Date         AP   ESPN/USA Today    
    Preseason     8       9   
    Nov. 15       7       9
    Nov. 22       6       6
    Nov. 29      11       8
    Dec. 6        7       6
    Dec. 13      11       7

     

     

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