No. 4 Notre Dame 80, Southern Cal 58

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw looked at the stat sheet and was

impressed with the zero turnovers her point guard Skylar Diggins

had against Southern California.

Diggins scored 22 points and had five steals in the

fourth-ranked Irish’s 80-58 win over USC on Friday in the Junkanoo

Jam tournament.

”No turnovers for Skylar,” McGraw said. ”That’s incredible,

against some great pressure, and she had the ball so much. We

really wanted to keep the ball in her hands today, because she was

really making things happen. For a while, she was the only one who

was scoring. I was really, really pleased with just her game

management. I thought she ran the team extremely well.”

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

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

”I’m just trying to stay steady through frustration, through

adversity, through any situation,” Diggins said. ”I was trying to

set the tone. (Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey) and I had a

conversation before the game about defensive pressure. I said, I

feel like I haven’t had a great defensive pressure game since my

freshman year.’ She said, This is where you can get back to


Notre Dame turned up its defense and held USC (1-3) to one field

goal over the final 7:34 of the first half. 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.

Ashley Corral scored 17 points to lead USC.

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.

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

Dame,” USC coach Michael 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.”