Jan. 17, 2012
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Skylar Diggins loves to pass the ball, so this was a particularly fun night for her.
Diggins directed a record-breaking performance Tuesday, finishing with 11 points, nine assists and no turnovers in No. 2 Notre Dame's 120-44 victory against overmatched Pittsburgh.
"I always like to find my teammates," Diggins said, "and when the bigs run the floor you have to reward them. We have guards that can shoot the ball, too. It is just a matter of getting the ball to them."
Devereaux Peters had 20 points and reserve Natalie Achonwa finished with 19 for the Irish (18-1, 6-0 BIG EAST), who had 33 assists on 48 baskets in their 15th consecutive win. Kaila Turner (14), Natalie Novosel (13), Kayla McBride (11), Brittany Mallory (11), and Markisha Wright (11) also scored in double figures.
The 76-point difference was the largest ever for Notre Dame against a BIG EAST opponent. The Irish passed 100 points for the second time this season and beat a conference opponent by more than 50 points for the second time. They defeated Mercer 128-42 on December 30 and also posted a 95-42 victory over Marquette.
It was an impressive offensive showing but Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw was particularly pleased with Diggins.
"Skylar had nine assists and no turnovers," McGraw said. "I was hoping she had 10 assists so she could get another double-double. She has incredible court vision. She can see the entire court even when she is going full speed and is being guarded."
Ashlee Anderson scored 14 for Pitt (8-11, 0-6), which committed 26 turnovers and shot 35.4 percent from the field. The Panthers were without center Leeza Burdgess, who was on the bench due to a violation of team rules.
"We have the youngest team in the nation," Panthers coach Agnus Berenato. "I would rather have my kids lose like this when Notre Dame plays basketball the way the game is supposed to be played with the passing and cutting, than to lose to a team that plays above the rim. I tried to get my players not to be star struck, but it is just a matter of confidence."
Peters made two free throws to spark an 18-2 run that gave Notre Dame a 30-9 lead with 8:27 to go in the first half. Pitt went 10:34 without a field goal as part of that streak.
Notre Dame led 54-19 at halftime. Peters led all scorers with 16 points while Diggins had eight assists.
The second half was more of the same. Notre Dame broke the 100-point barrier with 7:24 remaining on a 15-footer by Turner.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame set six school records during Tuesday's win:
Tuesday's 120 points also represented the fourth-highest point total ever in a BIG EAST regular season game and most since Jan. 6, 1998 (Connecticut defeated Providence, 126-48 in Storrs, Conn.) -- the conference record is 128 points (at Providence 128, Georgetown 114 on Feb. 4, 1991) ... in addition, Notre Dame narrowly missed BIG EAST regular season records for assists (33 -- record is 35, set by Providence in the aforementioned two field goal record games in 1986) and margin of victory (78 points by Connecticut in the aforementioned 1998 win over Providence) ... Notre Dame registered its second triple-digit game of the season (following a school-record 128 points at Mercer on Dec. 30), the first time the Fighting Irish have had multiple 100-point games in a season since they did it twice in 1998-99 (the only other time Notre Dame pulled off that feat in the program's 35-year history) ... Notre Dame now has the top two single-game point totals in the nation this season ... Pittsburgh is the fourth different BIG EAST opponent the Fighting Irish have scored 100 points against since joining the conference in 1995-96 (also Georgetown, Providence and West Virginia) ... Notre Dame tops the 100-point mark at home for the first time since Nov. 15, 2009 (a 102-57 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff) and does so in BIG EAST play for the first since Jan. 19, 2008 (104-86 at Georgetown) ... the Fighting Irish shot .649 from the field, the sixth-best field goal percentage in school history (fourth in a home game) and second-best ever in BIG EAST play (.680 vs. Boston College on Feb. 12, 1997) ... Notre Dame's 33 assists are fourth-most in school history (most ever in BIG EAST action), and most since a school-record 38 handouts against Marquette on Dec. 21, 1990 ... Notre Dame's 76-point margin of victory ties for the third-largest in school history, exceeded by a 128-42 win at Mercer (Dec. 30, 2011) and a 113-35 win over Liberty in Orlando, Fla. (Nov. 24, 1989), and matching the 97-21 win over Southeast Missouri on Jan. 2, 2011, at Purcell Pavilion ... the Fighting Irish held their opponent without a three-point field goal for the first time since Nov. 16, 2008, when No. 24/22 LSU went 0-for-4 from beyond the arc in a 62-53 Notre Dame win at the State Farm Tip-Off Classic in Baton Rouge, La. ... Pittsburgh's 17 rebounds were the fewest by a Fighting Irish opponent in a single game since Feb. 25, 1989, when Xavier had 15 rebounds in a 69-56 Notre Dame victory in Cincinnati, Ohio ... the Fighting Irish tallied a season-high nine three-pointers (previous was eight on two occasions, the last vs. Hartford on Nov. 17 at Purcell Pavilion) ... Notre Dame extended its winning streak to 15 games, tying the third-longest run in school history (also 15 in 1990-91 and 2009-10) ... the Fighting Irish move to 6-0 in BIG EAST play, tying their fourth-best start in conference games since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96 (they also went 6-0 to start that debut season) ... Notre Dame's 18-1 record remains tied for the second-best 19-game start in school history (also in 2009-10), trailing the 19-0 debut in 2000-01 ... for the 11th time this season, the Fighting Irish opened up a 20-point lead within the first 13 minutes of the game (they led 30-9 with 8:27 left in the first half), going on to win those 11 games by an average of 52.5 points per game ... Notre Dame set new school records with its seventh 50-point victory of the season (previous was six in 2010-11), and tied two other season marks with its seventh 40-point win (also in 2010-11) and eighth 90-point outing (also in 2010-11) ... the Fighting Irish held their opponent to 50 points or fewer for the 12th time this season, tying for the second-most in a year in school history (also 2000-01 and 2001-02 ... record is 14, set in 2010-11) ... Notre Dame's bench posted its second-highest point total of the year (69 at Mercer on Dec. 30) and outscored the entire Pittsburgh team by 10 points ... the Fighting Irish had a season-low nine turnovers ... fifth-year senior forward Devereaux Peters (who was presented a commemorative ball in a pregame ceremony for scoring her 1,000th career point earlier this year) became the fifth Notre Dame player to score 20 points in a game this season, reaching that mark for the fifth time in her career, and first since last year's NCAA national championship game against Texas A&M (21 points) ... Peters also moved into 26th place on the Notre Dame all-time scoring list with 1,073 points, passing Carrie Bates (1,060 points from 1981-85) ... Peters rose into a tie for third place on the Fighting Irish career blocks list, recording her 167th all-time block to match the career total of Jacqueline Batteast from 2001-05 ... junior guard Skylar Diggins had at least seven assists and zero turnovers in a game for the second time this year (she had seven assists and no turnovers against Indiana State on Nov. 13 at Purcell Pavilion) ... Diggins delivered at least seven assists in a game for the ninth time this year, and second consecutive game ... sophomore forward Natalie Achonwa finished one point shy of her career high, set on Dec. 4 at Creighton ... senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel extended her streak of double-figure scoring games to 26 in a row, still the second-longest in school history ... fifth-year senior guard Brittany Mallory appeared in her 131st career game, tying for third-most in school history with former teammate Melissa Lechlitner (2006-10), as well as Ruth Riley (1997-2001) and Sheila McMillen (1995-99).