No. 3 Baylor heads to No. 5 Notre Dame in first-ever visit to South Bend for national championship rematch

No. 3 Baylor at No. 5 Notre Dame

  • Notre Dame, Ind., Purcell Pavilion (9,149)
  • Series: Baylor leads 3-0 (First meeting at Notre Dame)
  • TV: ESPN2 (Dave O’Brien, pxp / Doris Burke, color / Rebecca Lobo, sideline)
  • Radio: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), ESPN Central Texas
  • Coaches: Baylor’s Kim Mulkey Career: 344-80 (13th season), BU Record: 344-80 (13th season) || Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw Career: 684-256 (31st season) Notre Dame Record: 596-215 (28th season)

Notes || Around the Web

The last time Baylor and Notre Dame met, it was for the national championship back in April. The No. 3 Lady Bears make their first-ever trip to South Bend to face the No. 5 Irish Dec. 5 in a nationally televised matchup. It will be the fourth game between the two teams, all within the last three seasons. Baylor holds the edge in the series, 3-0.

Baylor’s All-American point guard, junior Odyssey Sims is expected to return after missing four games with a hamstring injury. She averages 10.7 points per outing. The Lady Bears are led by Preseason National Player of the Year Brittney Griner, a 6-8 senior averaging 21 points per game.

Baylor is 6-1, their only loss coming at the hands of current No. 1-ranked Stanford during a tournament in Hawaii in mid-November. Sims sustained her injury during that game and played less than five minutes. In their last game, they routed Rice, 89-49 on Nov. 27 in Houston. Griner tallied 35 points (on 16-of-19 shooting) and nine rebounds, while graduate student forward Brooklyn Pope added 17 points off the bench and redshirt junior forward Destiny Williams chipped in a double-double (12 points, 10 rebounds).

The Irish are led by 5-11 junior guard Kayla McBride’s 14.6 points per game. She is followed by Skylar Diggins, a 5-9 senior guard, who scores 14 a game while Natalie Achonwa and Jewell Loyd complete Notre Dame’s double-digit scoring with 13.6 points and 12.6 points a contest, respectively. Achonwa is the team’s leading rebounder at 9.6 an outing.

Notre Dame (5-0) closed out November with a gritty win over Central Michigan 72-63 on Nov. 29 in Mount Pleasant, Mich. Diggins scored 17 of her season-high 25 points in the first half, while junior forward Achonwa turned in her third consecutive double-double (and fourth this season) with 11 points and game-high 10 rebounds.

Game Notes

  • The teams played twice last year, with Baylor winning 94-81 in the Preseason WNIT championship game on Nov. 20 in Waco, Texas, and then 80-61 in the NCAA national championship game on April 3 in Denver.
  • Notre Dame and Baylor are playing the first NCAA national championship game rematch since Dec. 30, 2010, when Stanford defeated visiting Connecticut, 71-59, to end the Huskies’ NCAA Division I-record 90-game winning streak.
  • Diggins and Baylor redshirt senior forward Williams were part of the 2009 USA Basketball Under-19 World Championship Team that earned the gold medal in Thailand and was led by current Notre Dame associate head coach Carol Owens. Team USA went 8-1 in the tournament, with two of those wins coming over a Canadian team that was led by Notre Dame’s Achonwa.
  • Baylor’s Williams is a native of Benton Harbor, Mich., and attended Benton Harbor High School, located less than 40 miles from the Notre Dame campus.
  • Notre Dame’s Muffet McGraw and Baylor’s Kim Mulkey are the only coaches to both play for and coach a team that has appeared in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, and then coach that same team to a national championship. Both are former point guards. McGraw played at Saint Joseph’s (Pa.) when it rose to No. 3 in 1977, while Mulkey was the floor general for top-ranked Louisiana Tech in 1982. McGraw then took Notre Dame to the 2001 national championship, while Mulkey did the same with Baylor in 2005 and 2012.
  • McGraw and Mulkey also are members of the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame, with McGraw being enshrined in June 2011, while Mulkey was a 2001 inductee

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