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    Life After Hoops

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    Fighting Irish Xtra

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    It Was a Good Day

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    Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Connecticut

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    No. 3 Notre Dame welcomes No. 2 Connecticut to Purcell Pavilion today for a battle between two of college basketball's top programs.

    Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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    Concrete Jungle Where Dreams Are Made Of

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    Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Longwood

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    The women's hoops team takes on Longwood today at 2:00 p.m. (ET) inside Purcell Pavilion. Kick up your feet and enjoy the action right here on UND.com.

    Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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    Twas the Night Before Christmas ...

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    Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. UCF

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    The Irish women's hoops team tips off against UCF tonight at 7:00 p.m. (ET) inside the friendly confines of Purcell Pavilion.

    Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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    Notre Dame Digs In, Holds Off Wildcats

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    5886019.jpeg ESPN.com - With one bold decision to launch the basketball skyward and an afternoon otherwise spent protecting it like it had a Secret Service code name, Skylar Diggins made sure there was one fewer member of the undefeated club by the end of Sunday's game between No. 3 Notre Dame and No. 7 Kentucky.

    Just how hard she and the Fighting Irish had to fight to do so suggests the club of championship contenders extends to Lexington.

    Behind 16 points and 11 assists from Diggins and 40 combined points from Natalie Novosel and Kayla McBride, Notre Dame beat Kentucky 92-83. For the Fighting Irish, it was a the third win against a top-12 team since a loss at top-ranked Baylor before Thanksgiving, leaving them with at least a case to reclaim the No. 2 ranking regardless of the outcome of Sunday's showdown between Baylor and Connecticut. For the Wildcats, who beat Louisville and Duke at home earlier this month, it was the first loss of the season and the cause of coach Matthew Mitchell's angst.

    "They clearly wanted the game more than we did today, and they played with much more effort than we did today," Mitchell said. "They played with much more precision, they executed better, they were better coached today. They had an outstanding game, an outstanding game plan, and they thoroughly beat us today."

    Many of those who watched the action in a sold-out Purcell Pavaillion would disagree.

    Start with the managers responsible for washing Notre Dame's jerseys. It's going to take some bleach to dispatch the lingering traces of blue left by Kentucky defenders with little regard for personal space. From the opening moments, when Kentucky's Amber Smith swiped the ball away from Novosel after six seconds, to the final whistle, when Smith seemed to have to hold herself back rather than go for the steal as Brittany Mallory dribbled out the clock, the Wildcats pressured, pestered and punished the Fighting Irish with physical defense from end line to end line.

    And check with the scoreboard operator, the one responsible for pushing the buttons to reflect Kentucky's 75-74 lead with just more than five minutes to play in the second half, the culmination of a Kentucky comeback from a 10-point deficit.

    Kentucky's spirt didn't ebb until Diggins, all of eight seconds out of a timeout that gave the Fighting Irish possession of the ball at the other end of the court, took a pass in the corner from Mallory and hit a 3-pointer to extend her team's lead to 81-75 with 3:35 to play. With the crowd at maximum volume, Kentucky turned the ball over off the ensuing inbounds, Novosel hit two free throws and Notre Dame eased to the finish line.

    Diggins initially suggested after the game that the quick shot might not have been the approved plan for that possession. Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw quickly corrected her. Letting Diggins be Diggins is always the plan.

    "That was the nail in the coffin," McGraw said. "I thought the 3 was huge and then to come up with the steal after it, I think that was a momentum killer for them. That was such a huge play for us. When she let it go, I just thought to myself, 'It's in.'

    "I didn't see the trajectory of the ball or anything, I just knew she was going to will it in."

    That shot aside, Diggins took control of the game by doing everything but shooting well. She hit just 5-of-12 shots for the game, and with Novosel on the bench in foul trouble in the second half, Diggins struggled to find points as Kentucky made its run to take the late lead. What Diggins did all day was manage the game. She finished with 11 assists but also just three turnovers in 37 minutes against a defense that entered forcing 35 turnovers per game.

    Even as it took a lead in the first half, Notre Dame looked flustered against a level and style of pressure that if not unique, certainly given McGraw's experience against teams like Rutgers, is rarely seen. The Fighting Irish committed 15 first-half turnovers, including nine in the first eight-plus minutes. But time and again Diggins made her way into the teeth of the defense and distributed the ball to McBride, Novosel or someone else to ensure the Wildcats never pushed their momentum beyond the breaking point.

    Live Chat - Women's Basketball vs. Marquette

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    The women's hoops squad takes to the court at Purcell Pavilion tonight to face BIG EAST Conference foe Marquette at 7:00 p.m. (ET).

    Irish UNDerground will have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout tonight's game. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation.

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