Skylar Diggins posts second career triple-double (fourth in school history) with 17 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.
Beth Cunningham, a former two-time All-America guard at the University of Notre Dame and the program's second all-time leading scorer, is in her second season as associate coach for the Fighting Irish. Cunningham returned to her alma mater following 11 seasons at Virginia Commonwealth University, the final nine as the Rams' head coach.
At Notre Dame, Cunningham's primary focus is working with the Fighting Irish wing players, as well as coordinating future game schedules, constructing game strategy and scouting reports, helping to develop daily practice plans and aiding the program's nationally-ranked recruiting efforts.
"One of the things we've always tried to stress with our program is developing and maintaining the right chemistry, whether that be among our players or our staff," head coach Muffet McGraw said. "When the opportunity came to welcome Beth back to our program, it made perfect sense. She is one of the true greats in Notre Dame women's basketball history, the consummate leader on the court and in the locker room. Both (associate head coach) Carol (Owens) and I had the great fortune to coach Beth during her playing days, and (assistant coach) Niele (Ivey) was one of her teammates during our 1997 Final Four season, so there's already that built-in chemistry and comfort level among our staff. Beth is a proven winner, both as a player at the college and WNBA levels, and as a coach, and I couldn't be happier to have her on our staff."
"I'm so thrilled to be back at Notre Dame," Cunningham said. "To be a part of Coach McGraw's staff is something I've always dreamed about. I have tremendous passion and pride in the Notre Dame women's basketball program, and I believe it is a reflection of the high standards this great university embodies. Quite simply, I can't wait to continue everyone's efforts at Notre Dame towards winning national championships."
In her first year back at her alma mater, Cunningham took guard Kayla McBride under her wing and helped shape her into one of the nation's top players. McBride was a third-team AP All-American and member of the WBCA Coaches' All-America Team in 2012-13 after logging career highs of 15.9 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. McBride also was the BIG EAST Championship Most Outstanding Player after leading Notre Dame to its first-ever BIG EAST tournament title, and she was dominant on the biggest stages, reflecting Cunningham's own cool demeanor from her playing days while methodically shredding the likes of Connecticut (21.5 ppg. in four games in 2012-13), Texas A&M (19 points), Baylor, Duke and UCLA (18 points each), and Louisville (16.0 ppg. in two games).
Thanks in part to Cunningham's guidance, McBride was one of six collegians invited to participate in the 2013 USA Basketball Senior Women's National Team mini-camp in Las Vegas, a gathering used to identify the player pool that will ultimately produce the American rosters for the 2014 FIBA World Championships and 2016 Olympics.
Cunningham took the VCU women's basketball program to new heights in her 11 seasons in Richmond, Va., spending one year as an assistant coach (2001-02) and another as associate head coach (2002-03) before assuming the head coaching duties prior to the 2003-04 campaign. She is the Rams' all-time leader in women's basketball coaching wins, having led VCU to a 167-115 (.592) record and postseason appearances in each of her final five seasons, including the program's first-ever NCAA Championship berth (an at-large selection in 2009). Under her tutelage, VCU also averaged better than 22 wins per season from 2007-08 through 2011-12, amassing three consecutive 20-win campaigns from 2008-10 (including back-to-back school-record 26-win seasons in 2007-08 and 2008-09) as part of the most successful four-year run in Rams' history.
A two-time Virginia Coach of the Year honoree by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Cunningham coached three WNBA Draft picks and two All-Americans, as well as two Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) Players of the Year and 18 all-conference selections during her tenure at VCU. Among her more notable pupils were Quanitra Hollingsworth, a first-round selection (ninth overall) in the 2009 WNBA Draft by the Minnesota Lynx (and now with the New York Liberty), and Courtney Hurt, a 2012 third-round selection by the Indiana Fever, who was
among the nation's leaders in scoring and rebounding during her final two seasons.
Much like her coaching career at VCU, Cunningham was a trailblazer during her playing days at Notre Dame from 1993-97 (when she competed under her maiden name of Beth Morgan), not only helping the Fighting Irish transition from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League) into the BIG EAST Conference in 1995-96, but then leading the program to the first of its four NCAA Women's Final Four appearances and a (then) record-setting 31-7 campaign as a senior in 1996-97. A two-time Associated Press and Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) honorable mention All-America choice, four-time first-team all-conference selection and two-year team captain, Cunningham sparked Notre Dame to a 97-32 (.752) record in her four seasons under the Golden Dome, including a pair of MCC regular season titles and the 1994 MCC postseason crown, as well as three NCAA Championship appearances (1994, 1996, 1997).
When all was said and done, Cunningham departed as the all-time leading scorer in Fighting Irish women's basketball history with 2,322 points (now second behind Skylar Diggins), having set or tied 28 school records during her career, 11 of which she still holds, including career marks for points, scoring average (18.6 ppg.), double-figure scoring games (115) and 20-point games (56).
Following her successful college career, Cunningham spent three seasons in the American professional basketball ranks, playing two seasons with the Richmond/Philadelphia Rage of the now-defunct American Basketball League (ABL) from 1997-98, and then one year with the WNBA's Washington Mystics in 2000 before embarking on her coaching career.
Cunningham also has become a fixture in USA Basketball circles as both a player and coach, first suiting up for Team USA four times from 1996-99 (winning three medals including a gold with the `97 USA World University Games Team) and serving as the athlete representative on the USA Basketball Women's Junior National Team Committee since 2009 after spending time in a similar role on the USA Basketball Women's Collegiate Committee from 2005-08.
Cunningham graduated from Notre Dame in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in marketing from the top-ranked Mendoza College of Business. She then went on to earn her master's degree of education in sports leadership from VCU in 2003.
Originally from Bloomington, Ind., Cunningham was a standout two-sport performer at Bloomington South High School, earning all-state honors in both basketball and tennis and subsequently being inducted into the Monroe County Sports Hall of Fame in June 2011. What's more, her father, Bob Morgan, was the longtime baseball coach at Indiana University from 1984-2005, leading the Hoosiers to more than 1,000 victories during his career.
Cunningham and her husband, Dan (a former practice player for the Notre Dame women's basketball program and a 1996 graduate of Notre Dame's Mendoza College of Business), are the proud parents of a two-year-old daughter, Margaret, and infant twins Carly and Danny.