March 19, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - For the fourth consecutive year (and the fourth time in school history), three Notre Dame women's basketball players have earned all-region status in the same season and now are in position to contend for places on the 2013 State Farm Coaches' All-America Team, it was announced Tuesday by the Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA). The Fighting Irish are the only program in the country to field three all-region honorees this season, and Notre Dame is the only school in the land to have three all-region selections each of the past four years.
Senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) earned her fourth all-region citation in as many seasons, while junior forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary's Catholic) and junior guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) both garnered all-region honors for the first time in their respective careers. The trio is among the 52 all-region selections, and three of the 12 honorees from the WBCA's Region I, which includes players from schools in the BIG EAST, Atlantic 10, America East and Northeast conferences, as well as the Ivy Group and Patriot League. All told, 14 Fighting Irish players have collected all-region laurels a total of 26 times in the program's 36-year history.
Diggins' selection is particularly noteworthy, as she becomes the first Notre Dame player to collect four all-region citations in her career, surpassing three-time selections Ruth Riley (1999-2001) and Jacqueline Batteast (2002, 2004-05). All three of those players also made the 10-member State Farm Coaches All-America Team at some point during their careers, with Riley making the 2001 squad, Batteast doing likewise in 2005 and Diggins the most recent Fighting Irish All-America choice in both 2011 and 2012.
Tuesday's announcement is the latest in a recent spate of awards for all three Fighting Irish players, each of whom was tabbed for first-team all-BIG EAST Conference honors earlier this month. Diggins -- who also earned her second consecutive BIG EAST Player of the Year award and is a finalist for both the Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award -- was a unanimous choice (her fourth consecutive all-league award and third unanimous honor), while Achonwa and McBride were first-team all-BIG EAST selections for the first time. McBride went on to be selected as the Most Outstanding Player of the BIG EAST Championship, becoming the first Notre Dame player in more than 20 years to earn that award at a conference tournament (Margaret Nowlin was the last to do so at the 1992 Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League Championship).
From this year's list of 52 all-region nominees, a group of 10 will be chosen by the State Farm Coaches' All-America Team selection committee for this year's State Farm Coaches' All-America Team. The 2013 State Farm Coaches' All-America Team will be announced at 2:10 p.m. (ET) on April 6 at New Orleans Arena during events surrounding the NCAA Women's Final Four.
Those all-region nominees not chosen for the 10-member State Farm Coaches' All-America Team will be designated as State Farm Coaches' All-America Honorable Mentions, a status earned by 11 Fighting Irish players, all since 1991 -- Karen Robinson (1991), Katryna Gaither (1996, 1997), Beth Morgan (1996, 1997), Riley (1999, 2000), Batteast (2002, 2004), Megan Duffy (2005, 2006), Charel Allen (2007), Diggins (2010), Lindsay Schrader (2010), Natalie Novosel (2011, 2012) and Devereaux Peters (2011, 2012).
Ranked No. 2 in the latest Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today polls, BIG EAST champion Notre Dame (31-1, 16-0 BIG EAST) has earned the No. 1 seed in the Norfolk Region for the 2013 NCAA Championship, and will tip off tournament play at 5:05 p.m. (ET) Sunday against Ohio Valley Conference tournament champion Tennessee-Martin at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. The game will be televised live on ESPN2 through its "whiparound coverage" (viewers in Indiana and the Chicagoland area, as well as western Tennessee, will see the game in its entirety, while the rest of the country will rotate through all four games in that time slot). Viewers also can see the game in its entirety through ESPN3/WatchESPN and the ESPN Full Court package.
Tickets for this weekend's NCAA Championship games in Iowa City (Miami-Fla. and Iowa meet in Sunday's other first-round game at approximately 7:35 p.m. ET, with the first-round winners meeting Tuesday night) currently are on sale through the Iowa Athletics Ticket Office (800-IA-HAWKS; hawkeyesports.com).
For more information on the Notre Dame women's basketball program, sign up to follow the Fighting Irish women's basketball Twitter pages (@ndwbbsid or @ndwbb), visit the program's official Facebook page (facebook.com/ndwbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.