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Sunday, April 21, 2024
The Observer

Muffet McGraw honored with statue as Irish win 8th straight

Irish head coach Muffett McGraw celebrates after her team’s Round of 32 victory against DePaul on Sunday night.

Sunday afternoon marked a historic moment for Notre Dame athletics and the University. Notre Dame honored legendary women’s basketball head coach Muffet McGraw with a statue. McGraw becomes the sixth head coach to receive such an honor and the first in any sport other than football. She is the first woman in Irish athletic program history to have a statue on Notre Dame’s campus.

“I knew that we would be able to build something,” McGraw said on Sunday. Her tenure with the Irish from 1987-2020, with McGraw winning 848 games as Notre Dame’s head coach. She led the Irish to numerous conference tournament and regular season titles — 11 and 14, respectively — spread across the MCC, Big East and ACC. Under McGraw’s watch, Irish women’s basketball turned into a national brand, defined by consistent excellence and, of course, two national championships.

The first of those came in 2001 against Purdue, who the 2023-24 team took on at Purcell Pavilion after the reveal. They did McGraw proud, beating the Boilermakers 76-39. After dropping their season opener to South Carolina, the Irish have not lost and are showing no signs of slowing down.

With numerous players from every era of McGraw’s coaching career on hand, the Irish gave them plenty to celebrate. The Irish held Purdue to just 14 combined points in the middle quarters while putting up at least 15 in each frame themselves. Freshman guard Hannah Hidalgo led the way with 23 points. She’s now hit the 20-point threshold in eight of her nine collegiate contests.

Senior forwards Maddy Westbeld (15 points) and Natalija Marshall (14) also finished in double figures. It was a near-perfect game on a perfect day for the program, as the Irish honored the past while continuing to dominate in the present.

“I know every game when I came walking out of that tunnel, and I would feel your support,” McGraw told the crowd. “And knew that you were behind us, that you believed in us. And I wanted to win for you. So thank you for giving me the gift of knowing that every time I walk in this arena — I know I’m home.”

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