Jan. 26, 2013
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -
Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw wasn't about to give Skylar Diggins too much praise.
Diggins scored 21 points, all in the first half when she was 9-of-9 shooting, to lead the Fighting Irish to an 89-44 victory over Providence on Saturday, becoming the fourth Irish player to ever score 2,000 career points. McGraw was asked where she would place Diggins among Notre Dame's all-time greats.
"Well, right now she's fourth," McGraw said, smiling.
Diggins, who is averaging 15.5 points a game, has a shot at becoming Notre Dame's all-time leading scorer. Irish associate coach Beth Cunningham holds the mark at 2,322 points, set from 1993-97.
"It will be great if Sky breaks the record. I think Beth will be the biggest cheerleader for her to do that," McGraw said.
It didn't take Diggins long to get started Saturday. She took a pass from Kayla McBride on the opening tip-off to score an easy layup 4 seconds in, to pass the milestone. Diggins said she wanted to get it over with quickly, and the sellout crowd erupted.
"The roar that came when I made that basket is something I won't forget," Diggins said. "It's special because I'm from here."
Diggins then quickly got started on moving to her next milestone, hitting from inside, mid-range and behind the 3-point line as Providence (6-13, 1-5 BIG EAST) could do nothing to slow her. The only mistake Diggins made in the first half was to miss a free throw as the Irish (18-1, 7-0) jumped to a 46-15 lead.
"She took over the game," McGraw said.
Diggins had a 10-0 run on her own, starting with a free throw to give the Irish an 11-4 lead. She then scored on a pair of layups 12 seconds apart, then added another layup and a 3-pointer as Notre Dame opened a 20-4 lead.
"I was just looking for my opportunities and taking what they gave me," Diggins said. "I was getting good passes, too. We were getting steals and we were getting out in transition."
Tori Rule led the Friars with 12 points, all in the second half. Symone Roberts, Providence's leading scorer at 15.3 points a game, was 1-of-8 shooting for two points.
"I was thrilled with the way we guarded her. I think everybody had a chance to guard her. Sky guarded her for the most part in the first," McGraw said.
Providence coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl said the Irish are just always ready no matter who they face.
"That's what I try to get our players to understand: you have to bring it every day. This league is too difficult not to do that," she said.
Even with Notre Dame reserves playing much of the second half the Irish continued to pull away. Natalie Achonwa had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Irish and Jewell Loyd added 10.
The Irish outshot the Friars 51 percent to 31 percent, scoring 56 points in the paint. Notre Dame also had a 51-26 rebounding advantage.
Diggins didn't miss a shot until 5 minutes into the second half, when the Irish led 54-19. The Friars didn't have more points than Diggins until Lexi Sells hit a 3-pointer with 12:00 left to cut Notre Dame's lead to 62-24, and by then Diggins was watching from the bench.
Notre Dame's 13-game winning streak is the sixth longest in school history. The longest Irish win streak is 23 games set during the 2000-01 season, when the Irish won the national championship.
-- ND --
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame is off to an 18-1 start for the fourth time in school history, and third time in four years (also 2000-01, 2009-10, 2011-12) ... the Fighting Irish are 7-0 in BIG EAST Conference play for the second consecutive season and fifth time in program history (also 1996-97, 1999-2000, 2000-01 and 2011-12) ... Notre Dame's 13-game winning streak is the sixth-longest in school history, with three of those six streaks coming in the past four seasons (also 15 games in 2009-10 and 21 games in 2011-12) ... senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins became the fourth Notre Dame women's basketball player to score 2,000 career points, passing the milestone on a layup at 19:56 of the first half -- she is the first Notre Dame cager to reach the mark since Ruth Riley did so on March 26, 2001, against Vanderbilt in the NCAA Midwest Regional final at the Pepsi Center in Denver ... Diggins currently sits in fourth place on the Fighting Irish career scoring list with 2,020 points, closing in on third-place holder Riley (2,072 from 1997-2001) ... Diggins is the first Notre Dame women's basketball player to score her 2,000th career point at home ... including South Bend native Diggins, three of the four Fighting Irish players to top 2,000 career points hail from the state of Indiana (current associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham is from Bloomington, while Riley is from Macy) ... Diggins notched her 37th career 20-point game, tying Riley for third on the Notre Dame all-time list ... Diggins made her first nine shots before missing her only attempt of the second half (a layup try in traffic at 14:59), denying her a spot in the Notre Dame and BIG EAST record books -- the arena record for field goal percentage is 9-for-9 (done twice, most recently by Crystal Erwin vs. Washington on Dec. 11, 2004), while the school and conference records are both 12-for-12 (school by Karen Robinson at Saint Louis on Jan. 14, 1989; conference by Louisville's Jazz Covington vs. Georgetown on Jan. 18, 2006) ... the Fighting Irish improve to 21-0 all-time against Providence, including an 11-0 record at Purcell Pavilion (the Friars are one of two BIG EAST opponents Notre Dame has never lost to with a minimum of five games played; Cincinnati is the other with an 8-0 series record) ... Notre Dame's 21-game winning streak against PC is its longest active string against a BIG EAST opponent ... Notre Dame now has scored at least 80 points in more than half (11) of its 21 series games against Providence, including six of 11 meetings in South Bend ... the Fighting Irish have won 18 of their 21 games against the Friars by double figures, with Saturday's margin the second-largest in the series behind a 109-60 victory on Jan. 24, 1998, at Purcell Pavilion ... Notre Dame held the Friars to 15 first-half points, tying its second-best defensive performance in a half this season behind only the 12 points allowed in the first half vs. Mercer on Nov. 20 at Purcell Pavilion (the Fighting Irish also gave up just 15 points in the second half against Alabama A&M on Dec. 19 at the World Vision Classic in Las Vegas) ... the Fighting Irish posted a +25 rebounding margin for the sixth time this season, and topped the 50-rebound mark for the fourth time this year (first since Dec. 29 when they snared 56 caroms against No. 11 Purdue) ... junior forward Natalie Achonwa posted her BIG EAST-leading 11th double-double of the season (fourth in conference play), tying for the seventh-most double-doubles in one season by a Fighting Irish player ... sophomore guard Whitney Holloway dished out a career-high five assists (all in the first half), while junior guard Kayla McBride tied her career high with five assists and sophomore forward Markisha Wright did likewise with her four assists ... freshman guard Hannah Huffman tied her season highs with six points and five rebounds, and sent the crowd home happy with her first career "Big Mac Basket", scoring Notre Dame's final points (and putting them over the magic 88-point mark) on a reverse layup with 34 seconds left ... freshman guard Michaela Mabrey grabbed a season-high five rebounds ... senior guard/co-captain Kaila Turner tied her season high with three three-pointers (she also had a trio of treys against Kansas State on Dec. 20 in Las Vegas) ... Notre Dame tied last year's school record with its eighth sellout of the season (and sixth in a row), raising its season attendance average to 8,988, better than 98.2 percent of Purcell Pavilion's official capacity (9,149) ... Fighting Irish head coach Muffet McGraw earned her 697th career win, lifting her 31-year career record to 697-257 (.731) and putting her three victories away from becoming the 13th NCAA Division I coach to reach the 700-win milestone.