No. 2 Notre Dame 93, Kansas 63
Skylar Diggins was already having such a great day, her coach
figured she might as well make it historic.
The Notre Dame point guard scored 22 of her 27 points by
halftime Sunday and became the school’s career scoring leader,
leading the top-seeded Fighting Irish to a 93-63 victory against
Kansas in the semifinals of the Norfolk Regional.
Notre Dame will play No. 2 seed Duke on Tuesday for a berth in
the Final Four.
Coach Muffet McGraw had forgotten all about Diggins’ pursuit of
the school scoring mark until the game was well in hand. When she
asked, she was told the senior was just two points away from
passing assistant coach Beth Cunningham.
”I told her, `You’re coming out in 30 seconds. You might as
well get one more,”’ McGraw said she told Diggins.
Moments later, with 7:48 to play, the lefthander in her
trademark white headband swished a 12-foot jumper.
”Coach told me to score two more. I didn’t really know why, but
I was like, `OK,”’ Diggins said.
It was that kind of the day for Diggins, who heard talk
beforehand that the Norfolk Regional was full of great point
guards, and quickly showed she might not have a peer, especially at
this time of year with the stakes so high.
”We play in games that are so much like Sweet 16 or Elite Eight
kind of caliber games in our conference,” she said. ”That helps
all of us.”
So does having a leader that makes it all look so easy. Diggins
added nine assists and three steals, scored nine straight during a
16-2 first-half run that put the Irish (34-1) ahead to stay, and
six more to cap a 10-2 run into halftime.
”She’s what everyone says,” Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich,
who finished with seven points and 13 assists, said. ”She’s the
whole package. She can create for herself and she can create for
The victory was the 29th in a row for Notre Dame, and left the
Irish one victory shy of a third consecutive trip to the Final
Four. They have lost in the title game each of the last two
Carolyn Davis led the upstart Jayhawks (20-14) with 25 points on
11-for-17 shooting, but the second No. 12 seed ever to get this far
in the women’s tournament since the seeding format began in 1994
didn’t stick around long.
Notre Dame led 40-27 at halftime and started the second half
with a 22-9 run.
”We definitely let them play comfortable and confident,”
Jayhawks coach Bonnie Henrickson said. ”I was disappointed our
defensive effort wasn’t better.”
Goodrich’s head-to-head duel with Diggins never materialized.
When Goodrich, like Diggins a senior, finally scored with 5:48 left
in the first half, Diggins already had 16 points and her team was
about to make another run before halftime.
It came in the final 4:30 of the half, a 10-2 burst capped by
two 3-pointers by Diggins.
”When she starts hitting the 3, you’re in trouble,” McGraw
Natalie Achonwa added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Notre Dame,
Jewell Loyd scored 15 and Kayla McBride 13 as the Fighting Irish
shot 54.4 percent from the field, making 37 of 69 attempts.
Monica Engelman added 10 points for Kansas, but on just 4 of 16
The Irish trailed 15-11 when Loyd made a 3-pointer with 14:37 to
go and then Diggins took over. She hit a 16-footer, a 17-footer, a
3-pointer and then had a steal and layup, making it 23-15. After
Davis’ stickback for the Jayhawks, Ariel Braker scored inside and
Diggins did, too, posting up Goodrich.
The 16-2 run gave the Fighting Irish a 27-17 lead, and the
spread stayed about the same until late in the half when Diggins
hit a 3-pointer, then followed a turnover with another 3 from the
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