Dec. 20, 2012
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LAS VEGAS (AP) - Skylar Diggins got Notre Dame off to a fast start, causing quite a few problems for Kansas State in the process.
Diggins scored 17 of her 22 points in the first half to lead No. 5 Notre Dame to an 87-57 victory over Kansas State on Thursday night in the World Vision Classic.
Diggins scored 15 of the Fighting Irish's first 23 points, leading them to a 23-10 lead 8:20 into the game.
"She is a very, very tough player to defend," Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said of Diggins. "As a young and inexperienced team, it's a great challenge. Once she gets in rhythm and measures you as a defender, it becomes a little bit of a cat and mouse game. And you can be in the position of being the mouse in a hurry. She is one competitive kid."
Natalie Achonwa added 13 points, Kayla McBride had 12, and Kaila Turner and Ariel Braker chipped in 11 apiece for Notre Dame (8-1), which led 49-25 at halftime.
"We wanted to come out and have a good start from the beginning," Diggins said. "We played similar teams to Kansas State like Central Michigan and Utah State and had trouble containing the ball and the (defensive) rotation. We're a young team and we have our struggles, but we've been improving at that."
Brittany Chambers had 18 points and seven rebounds, Haley Texada scored 11 points and Ashia Woods added 10 for the Wildcats (7-3).
Chambers, who averages 19 points, scored only five after halftime.
"I think we shut down Chambers in the first half," McGraw said. "She got a lot of points late."
Diggins, who had 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting at halftime, also led Notre Dame with four assists in the first half. McBride had 10 points at the break for the Irish, who shot 55 percent (16 for 29) in the opening half.
Reserve Haley Texada led the Wildcats with eight points in the first half.
Notre Dame will face No. 22 Texas A&M on Friday for the tournament championship after the Aggies beat Old Dominion 78-55.
-- ND --
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame is off to an 8-1 start for the fifth time in six seasons ... the Fighting Irish are 33-4 (.892) in regular season tournaments (multi-game events) since the start of the 1996-97 season, including 12 consecutive wins in tournaments sponsored by Seattle-based Basketball Travelers, Inc. (starting with the 2005 Duel in the Desert, also hosted by UNLV) ... Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time at UNLV's Cox Pavilion and has trailed in those four games for a grand total of 41 seconds (with 26 of those coming in the opening minute on Thursday against K-State, when the Wildcats' Brianna Craig hit a three-pointer at 19:43 and the Fighting Irish regained the lead for good on senior guard/tri-captain Skylar Diggins' layup at 19:17) ... Notre Dame is 30-9 (.769) when playing on one day's rest or less during the past five seasons (2008-09 to present) ... the Fighting Irish are 2-0 all-time against Kansas State and 28-12 (.700) all-time against current Big 12 Conference members ... Notre Dame registered season highs for three-pointers made and three-point percentage (both previously set at No. 19/22 UCLA on Nov. 23, when the Fighting Irish went 6-for-15, .400, from beyond the arc) ... for the third consecutive game, Notre Dame had a season-high five players scoring in double figures, improving to 59-4 (.937) in the past four seasons when it has had at least four double-digit scorers, including an active 29-game winning streak ... Diggins logged her 35th career 20-point game (still fourth in school history) and her 95th career double-figure scoring game, tying Alicia Ratay (1999-2003) for fifth place in school history in the latter category ... Diggins made her 116th career start, tying Karen Robinson (1987-91) for sixth place on the Notre Dame all-time list ... Diggins now has made 451 career free throws, pushing her into third place on the Fighting Irish career list, passing current Notre Dame associate coach Beth Cunningham (447 from 1993-97) ... senior guard/tri-captain Kaila Turner scored a season-high 11 points, becoming the 10th different Fighting Irish player (of a possible 11) to reach double figures in a game this season ... junior forward Ariel Braker tied her career high with nine rebounds (also against Longwood on Dec. 28, 2011), coming just one carom shy of her first career double-double ... Notre Dame will face No. 22 Texas A&M in the World Vision Classic championship game at 8:30 p.m. ET (5:30 p.m. PT) Friday at Cox Pavilion -- not only will the Aggies be the fourth ranked opponent of the season for the Fighting Irish, but the game will offer a rematch of the 2011 NCAA national championship game won by TAMU, 76-70 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse (then Conseco Fieldhouse) in Indianapolis ... Friday's World Vision Classic championship game can be seen via live video stream at the official Basketball Travelers tournament web page.