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Women’s Basketball: Century Marksmen

Joseph Monardo | Wednesday, January 18, 2012

In the midst of a 15-game winning streak, the second-ranked Irish and their potent offense are getting it done. Having already eclipsed 100 points twice in a season for the first time, Notre Dame is well on its way to achieving one of the most successful offensive seasons in program history.

In Tuesday’s 120-44 rout of Pittsburgh (8-11, 0-6 Big East), the Irish (18-1, 6-0) had only nine turnovers and broke several program records with an offensive performance most coaches could only dream of.

“It’s a lot of fun to see great execution and not a lot of turnovers,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think we pushed the ball, we really did a nice job looking for each other … It was a great team effort so it was a lot of fun.

“There were some amazing numbers on the offensive side.”

Against Pittsburgh, Notre Dame’s 33 assists were the most for the Irish since 1990, the 76-point margin of victory was Notre Dame’s largest ever in Big East play, 120 points were the most in a conference home game, 48 baskets were the most at home in program history and with eight players scoring in double figures, the Irish tied a program record.

Amazing numbers indeed.

And perhaps even more amazing, the victory was arguably not Notre Dame’s best offensive performance of the season. On Dec. 30, the Irish defeated Mercer 128-42 while breaking multiple school records.

Notre Dame set marks for most points in a game, most points in a half with 72 and most free throws made with 43 while tying the program record for shooting percentage with a 70.2-percent performance.

For the Irish, the opportunity to break single-game records offers a valuable chance to quantify their offense’s success.

“It’s great to have those records beaten,” senior guard Natalie Novosel said. “We take pride in every game … It’s a really

huge success.”

Notre Dame is shooting 49.2 percent from the field while scoring 85.6 points per game, on pace to break the previous program record of 81.0 points per game set in the 1998-1999 season. The Irish are also averaging 19.9 assists per game and have an assist-turnover ratio of 1.2, better than the program’s record of 1.15, set by the national champion 2000-2001 team.

Led by Novosel’s 16.3 points per game, the Irish currently have four players averaging over 10 points per game. With so much talent on the floor, Notre Dame’s greatest success is finding a role for everyone on the offensive end, Novosel said.

“I think that’s why coach McGraw does such an amazing job of finding all this talent that she has and putting it all together,

” the senior said. “I think everybody has finally accepted their role on the team, I think that is why we are doing so well right now. Everyone is taking their role in stride and fulfilling their role to a tee because all the little things add up to what make us such a good team right now.”

Heading into the season, McGraw repeatedly referred to this year’s team as “the best three-point shooting” team in her 25 years at Notre Dame. But through 19 games, the Irish have battled inconsistency from behind the arc. Despite their struggles, the Irish have managed to shoot three-pointers at a 34.5 percent clip.

“We’ve had some games where we’ve shot it extremely well and some games where we have not and I think we’ve got to be smart on our shot selection,” McGraw said.

For the Irish to heat up from three-point range it will take increased success in the transition game, Novosel said.

“I think it starts with our transition,” she said. “Once we get going with our transition it opens up the outside and we are able to establish our post presence that enables us to have outside shots, an in-and-out look.”

Whether the Irish improve their ability to shoot from range consistently or not, the offense promises to have continued success.

“We’ve got so many people who are really versatile right now ­– guards, post players alike,” Novosel said. “It’s really hard for [the opponent] to do box and one or triangle and two against us because there are so many options and weapons and I think that’s what makes us so special right now.”

Special indeed, and that’s how they will be remembered in the record books.

Contact Joseph Monardo at [email protected]