No. 4 Notre Dame 80, Southern Cal 58

USC coach Michael Cooper saw his share of great players when he

coached the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.

He wishes he had a guard at Southern California at the level of

Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins.

Diggins scored 22 points and more importantly didn’t turn the

ball over against the USC in the fourth-ranked Irish’s 80-58

victory on Friday in the Junkanoo Jam.

”Skylar Diggins is a great player. She’s a great, great point

guard. I think that’s one of the things that we’re missing, a true,

solid point guard who can be the coach out on the floor,” Cooper

said. ”She definitely does that. She gets everybody where they’re

supposed to be. She looks for her own scores after she looks for

other people. That’s what great point guards are supposed to

do.”

Ashley Corral scored 17 points to lead USC (3-1), which stayed

close with the Irish early on before going into an offensive

drought, scoring just one basket for the final 7:34 of the first

half.

”You’re playing against a top 5 team in the country in Notre

Dame,” Cooper said. ”One of the things we wanted to do was come

out and get a good start, and I thought we did that. We were able

to stay focused. But when you play these elite teams, you have to

stay focused for every possession, every minute of the clock. We

were able to fight our way back into it, but we knew it was just a

matter of time before Notre Dame would try to assert its will on

us. They did that. We played well, but it shows you why they are

one of the top teams in the country.”

Natalie Novosel added 17 points for the Irish (4-1), who will

play No. 7 Duke on Saturday night in the championship game. USC

will play Gardner Webb.

The Irish led 42-30 at the break as Diggins had 16 points. Notre

Dame cruised in the second half.

”What gets us going is our defense,” Novosel said. ”If we

were able to get some defensive stops that turn into easy

transition points, it gets us into a better flow offensively.”

The Women of Troy are in the midst of a month-long stretch that

will see them play eight of nine games on the road, including six

east of the Rocky Mountains. USC began that run last week with

losses at Nebraska and No. 10 Georgia.

This was the first meeting between the schools since USC beat

Notre Dame 69-58 on Nov. 24, 2006. The Irish have won eight of the

10 all-time meetings.