#2 Irish To Face #11/9 Maryland Sunday At NCAA Women's Final Four
April 4, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 3652013-14 ND Women's Basketball: Game 37
NCAA Women's Final Four -- National Semifinal
#2/2 [#1 seed] Notre Dame Fighting Irish (36-0 / 16-0 ACC) vs. #11/9 [#4 seed] Maryland Terrapins (28-6 / 12-4 ACC)
DATE: April 6, 2014
TIME: 5:30 p.m. CT/6:30 p.m. ET
AT: Nashville, Tenn. - Bridgestone Arena (17,681)
SERIES: MD leads 4-3
1ST MTG: MD 84-62 (1/8/83)
LAST MTG: ND 87-83 (1/27/14)
TV: ESPN/WatchESPN (live) (Dave O'Brien, p-b-p / Doris Burke, color / Holly Rowe, sideline)
RADIO: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) (live) (Bob Nagle, p-b-p); Westwood One/NCAA Radio Network (check local listings - live) (Dave Ryan, p-b-p / Debbie Antonelli, color / Krista Blunk, sideline)
TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: UND.com
LIVE STATS: UND.com
- Notre Dame is the fifth school in NCAA Championship history to advance to the Women's Final Four six times.
- The Fighting Irish will play a conference opponent in the national semifinals for the fifth time in six Women's Final Four appearances.
No. 2 Fighting Irish To Face No. 11/9 Maryland Sunday At NCAA Women's Final Four
After a season full of unprecedented success and unique challenges, No. 2 Notre Dame has reached its final destination in Music City USA and a spot in the NCAA Women's Final Four for the fourth consecutive season, as the Fighting Irish prepare to face a fellow ACC member, No. 11/9 Maryland in a national semifinal at 5:30 p.m. CT (6:30 p.m ET) Sunday at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville. The game will be televised live on ESPN, ESPN3 and on the WatchESPN platform, with Michiana's Pulse FM providing local radio coverage and the Westwood One/NCAA Radio Networksupplying the national perspective.
Notre Dame (36-0) secured its fourth consecutive NCAA regional title on March 31 with an emotional 88-69 win over No. 5/6 Baylor at Purcell Pavilion, avenging losses to the Bears in the 2012 NCAA title game and early last season.
Sophomore guard Jewell Loydwas named the Notre Dame Regional Most Outstanding Player after scoring a team-high 30 points in Monday's regional final against Baylor.
- Notre Dame is No. 2 in the final Associated Press poll and is No. 2 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Maryland is No. 11 in the final Associated Press poll and is No. 9 in the latest WBCA/USA Today poll.
- Notre Dame is the fifth program in NCAA history to make six NCAA Women's Final Four appearances (Connecticut, Louisiana Tech, Stanford and Tennessee).
- The Fighting Irish are the sixth team to reach the NCAA Women's Final Four in four consecutive seasons (Connecticut, LSU, Louisiana Tech, Stanford and Tennessee).
- Notre Dame won both the ACC regular season and tournament titles, becoming the first conference school to claim both crowns in the same year since Duke in 2002-03 (and the first ACC member ever to do so in its inaugural season).
- Notre Dame went a combined 19-0 in ACC regular season and tournament play, becoming the first league school outside the Triangle (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, N.C.) to run the table, and the first to go 19-0 against the ACC since Duke in 2002-03.
- For the first time in the program's 37-year history, the Fighting Irish have won three consecutive outright regular season conference titles (following BIG EAST crowns in 2011-12 and 2012-13), and it's just the second time they have ever won three consecutive regular season conference titles of any kind (they shared the 1988-89 Midwestern Collegiate/Horizon League championship before claiming the top spot outright the following two seasons).
- Notre Dame is the fourth ACC school to win the conference regular season title by at least four games, and the first since Duke in 2001-02.
- Notre Dame is the first school to win the ACC regular season women's basketball title in its first year in the conference since the ACC began sponsoring the sport in 1977-78.
- Notre Dame and Middle Tennessee (Conference USA) are the first NCAA Division I programs to win consecutive conference titles in different leagues since 2000-01, when both TCU and Louisiana Tech did so.
- Notre Dame has recorded a school-best 36 wins this season, exceeding the totals by the past two Fighting Irish squads (35-4 in 2011-12; 35-2 in 2012-13).
- The current Fighting Irish school-record 36-game winning streak already has topped last year's 30-game run, and it's also the longest winning streak by any Notre Dame team (regardless of sport) since World War II, passing the performance of the 2001 Fighting Irish softball team (33) and putting this year's women's basketball team nearly on par with Frank Leahy's legendary Notre Dame football teams from 1946-50 (39-game unbeaten streak - 37-0-2 record that included three national championships).
- Notre Dame has won 28 consecutive home games, dating back to Dec. 5, 2012 (a 73-61 loss to No. 3 Baylor). The 28-game home winning streak is the second-longest in school history, as well as the second-longest active run in NCAA Division I.
- The Fighting Irish have won a school-record 26 consecutive road games (and 42 of their last 47), tying the fourth-longest streak in NCAA Division I history and dating back to a 94-81 loss at No. 1 Baylor on Nov. 20, 2011, in the Preseason WNIT title game.
- Since the start of the 2011-12 season, Notre Dame is 40-5 (.889) against ranked opponents (26-4 away from home - road/neutral sites combined).
- Notre Dame stands at No. 2 in the AP and WBCA/USA Today polls, the third consecutive season that the Fighting Irish have earned the second position in both surveys.
- Notre Dame leads the nation in field goal percentage (.510) and three-point percentage (.408), part of seven NCAA statistical categories that the Fighting Irish are among the top 10 (not including won-loss percentage, for which they are one of two remaining teams in the nation without a loss).
- Notre Dame has appeared in the AP poll for 136 consecutive weeks (including the past 66 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 (86 of 97 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 137-14 (.907) record in their careers, surpassing last year's senior class of Skylar Diggins and Kaila Turner, who helped Notre Dame to a 130-20 (.867) record from 2009-13.
- 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 ranks fourth in the latest NCAA attendance rankings (8,694 fans per game; 95 percent capacity), and is one of only two schools in the country (along with Gonzaga) to fill its arena to better than 90 percent capacity, something the Fighting Irish have done each season since 2009-10.
- With 662 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 750 career wins, McGraw has moved into 10th place on the NCAA Division I career list. She is one of two ACC coaches in the top 10 along with current North Carolina coach Sylvia Hatchell (second with 935).
Other Notre Dame Notables
- Notre Dame is among the nation's winningest programs during the past five seasons (2009-10 to present), ranking fourth with 166 victories.
- Notre Dame has ranked among the top 20 in the nation in average attendance annually since 2000-01 (including top-five rankings the past four years), most recently placing fifth in the nation last season with a school-record 8,979 fans per game, topping the previous year's mark (8,571) and setting a new school record for the fourth year in a row. The Fighting Irish also have drawn at least 5,000 fans to 207 of their last 209 home games (including an active streak of 50 consecutive contests with 8,000 fans), logging 41 Purcell Pavilion sellouts, including 35 since the start of the 2009-10 campaign (five of their last six this season) and a school-record 11 sellouts last year.
- The Fighting Irish have become a regular fixture in the WNBA Draft in recent years, as 10 Notre Dame players have been selected in the past 13 seasons. Skylar Diggins was the most recent Fighting Irish player to be chosen, going to the Tulsa Shock in the first round (third overall pick) of the 2013 WNBA Draft. It marked the second consecutive year Notre Dame had a player selected No. 3 overall (Devereaux Peters went third to Minnesota in 2012), making the Fighting Irish just the second program to field lottery choices in consecutive seasons.
- Peters went on to earn her first WNBA Championship in 2013 with the Lynx (and fifth by a Notre Dame alum), who defeated the Atlanta Dream (and former Fighting Irish All-American Ruth Riley) in the WNBA Finals. Riley previously had won a pair of crowns with the Detroit Shock (2003 Finals MVP, 2006), while Coquese Washington toiled for the 2000 Houston Comets and Jacqueline Batteast was Riley's teammate on the 2006 title-winning squad in Detroit.
- For the seventh year in a row, the Fighting Irish posted a perfect 100-percent Graduation Success Rate (GSR), according to figures released by the NCAA in October. What's more, Notre Dame was one of only four schools in the previous six years to record a 100-percent GSR and play for a national championship in the same season (and the only program to do it twice, pulling off that feat in 2011 and 2012).
The Notre Dame-Maryland Series
Notre Dame and Maryland will play for the eighth time in series history, with the Terrapins holding a slim 4-3 edge over the Fighting Irish. However, Notre Dame has won the past two meetings in the series, including this year's ACC regular-season matchup (87-83 on Jan. 27 in College Park, Md.), as well as the only postseason encounter (80-49 on March 27, 2012, in the NCAA Raleigh Regional final).
The Last Time Notre Dame And Maryland Met
Jewell Loyd scored a career-high 31 points and Kayla McBridehad 20 for No. 2 Notre Dame, which lost a 22-point lead and had to scramble to salvage an 87-83 win over No. 8/6 Maryland on Jan. 27 at the Comcast Center in College Park, Md.
Notre Dame appeared on its way to another easy victory after building a 41-19 lead late in the first half. But Maryland stormed back behind senior star Alyssa Thomas to go up 64-63 with 10 minutes left.
Notre Dame answered with a 10-2 run and the Terrapins never got even after that.
McBride hit a long jumper as the shot clock dwindled to make it 87-83 with 11 seconds to go, the last in a series of clutch shots by the Fighting Irish in their closest game of the season.
Loyd, a 5-foot-10 sophomore guard, missed Notre Dame's previous game (vs. Miami) with a sprained knee. She returned to score 20 points in the first half and finished 12 for 20 from the floor and 7 for 8 at the foul line.
Thomas had 29 points and 12 rebounds, scoring 19 points after halftime, but it wasn't enough to prevent Maryland from absorbing its second straight defeat.
Other Notre Dame-Maryland Series Tidbits
- Notre Dame is 5-4 all-time against teams from the state of Maryland. In addition to their series against the Terrapins, the Fighting Irish are 2-0 against Loyola, defeating the Greyhounds in 1991 (84-49 at the Purcell Pavilion) and 1992 (55-48 in Baltimore).
- Notre Dame freshman guard Lindsay Allen is a native of Mitchellville, Md. (located approximately 10 miles southeast of the Maryland campus) and matriculated from St. John's College High School in Washington, D.C. (located 10 miles southwest of Maryland's home arena, the Comcast Center).
- Allen is the fifth Maryland native to suit up for the Fighting Irish and the second in recent seasons, following in the footsteps of sharpshooting guard and Baltimore native Brittany Mallory (2007-12), who helped lead Notre Dame to Final Four appearances in 2011 and 2012 and ranks sixth in school history with 153 three-point field goals.
- Allen and fellow Notre Dame freshman forward Taya Reimer were teammates with Maryland rookie guard Lexie Brown on the East Team at the 2013 McDonald's High School All-America Game in Chicago.
- Notre Dame sophomore guard Michaela Mabrey was a teammate with Maryland sophomore forward Malina Howard on the East Team at the 2012 McDonald's High School All-America Game in Chicago, defeating a West Team that included current Fighting Irish sophomore guard Jewell Loyd.
- Mabrey and Brown were teammates on the 2012 USA Basketball Under-18 National Team that won the gold medal at the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Gurabo, Puerto Rico. In addition, Notre Dame athletic trainer Anne Marquez served as the USA athletic trainer at that tournament.
- Notre Dame senior guard/tri-captain Kayla McBride was a teammate with Maryland senior forward Alicia DeVaughn and redshirt junior guard Laurin Mincy on the East Team at the 2010 McDonald's High School All-America Game in Columbus, Ohio.
- Two of the potential future stars of the United States Women's National Team will be in uniform Sunday night. McBride and Maryland senior forward Alyssa Thomas were two of six collegians named to the 2014-16 USA Basketball Women's National Team player pool from which the rosters for the 2014 USA World Championship Team and the 2016 USA Olympic Team will be selected (both squads will be led by another of this year's Final Four coaches, Connecticut's Geno Auriemma). In an interesting twist, both also are Pennsylvania natives, with McBride from Erie and Thomas from Harrisburg.