March 27, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame junior guard Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) added another major award to her ever-growing trophy case on Tuesday, earning first-team All-America honors from the Associated Press. Diggins, who was an AP third-team All-American last season and an honorable mention choice in 2010, becomes the first Fighting Irish women's basketball to garner first-team All-America recognition from the 40-member media panel since Ruth Riley was accorded that distinction in 2000 and 2001.
In addition, Notre Dame had two players receive AP honorable mention All-America status on Friday, as both senior guard/tri-captain Natalie Novosel (Lexington, Ky./Lexington Catholic) and fifth-year senior forward/tri-captain Devereaux Peters (Chicago, Ill./Fenwick) were among the players also earning votes in the media balloting, which took place prior to the start of the NCAA Championship. It's the first time either Novosel or Peters has received All-America recognition from the AP, although both were State Farm Coaches' All-America Team finalists last year and thus earned honorable mention accolades -- along with Diggins, both also are up for this year's final 10-member State Farm Coaches' All-America Team that will be announced next week in Denver.
Besides Diggins, the rest of the 2012 AP All-America First Team consisted of: Brittney Griner (Baylor), Nnemkadi Ogwumike (Stanford), Elena Delle Donne (Delaware) and Alyssa Thomas (Maryland).
Diggins joins Riley as the only Notre Dame women's basketball players ever to make one of the top three AP All-America teams more than once in her career (Riley also was a third-team selection in 1999 prior to her back-to-back first-team citations).
Diggins is a finalist for every major national player-of-the-year award this season, remaining under consideration for the State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy, Wooden Award and United States Basketball Writers Association (USBWA) Player of the Year honor. The reigning BIG EAST Conference Player of the Year and a two-time unanimous first-team all-BIG EAST selection, Diggins also is among eight finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top point guard.
This season, Diggins is the only BIG EAST player to rank among the top five in the conference in three of the five major statistical categories. She leads the conference in both assists (5.7 apg. - 16th in nation) and steals (2.6 spg. - 67th in nation), and she is fourth in scoring (16.6 ppg. - 76th in nation), while also posting a conference-best 2.13 assist-to-turnover ratio (15th in nation). What's more, she ranks among the top 10 in the BIG EAST in field goal percentage (seventh - .509; 29th in nation) and free throw percentage (10th - .787).
Diggins also wrapped up the BIG EAST regular season statistical titles in assists (5.8 apg. - second Notre Dame player to win the BIG EAST assist title, and first since current Fighting Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey in 1999-2000), steals (2.6 spg.), and assist-to-turnover ratio (2.3). She finished conference play among the top 15 in the BIG EAST in scoring (third - 17.8 ppg.), field goal percentage (ninth - .508) and free throw percentage (12th - .788).
Like Diggins, Novosel has been a candidate for every major national player-of-the-year award this season, and was named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top senior based on her dedication and achievement in four areas: Classroom, Character, Community and Competition. A two-time first-team all-BIG EAST and Women's Basketball Coaches Association (WBCA) All-Region I Team selection, Novosel also garnered Most Valuable Player honors at the Junkanoo Jam and a spot on the Preseason WNIT All-Tournament Team earlier this season.
The 5-foot-11 guard has started all 36 games for the Fighting Irish this season, ranking sixth in the BIG EAST in scoring (15.3 ppg.), while leading the conference with career-high marks in both three-point percentage (.423) and free throw percentage (.847; also 29th in nation). She has scored in double figures a team-high 30 times this season (77 in her career), and stands second on the team with 10 20-point games, including a career-high 32 points against USF on Feb. 25 (Senior Day) at Purcell Pavilion. For her career, Novosel ranks 10th in school history with 1,530 points, second with 448 free throws made and 141 games played, and fourth with a .396 three-point percentage.
Peters is a two-time WBCA All-Region I Team and first-team all-BIG EAST selection, as well as a finalist for the WBCA National Defensive Player of the Year award, and a two-time BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year choice. This season, she is the only BIG EAST player to rank among the top 10 in the conference in three of the five major defensive statistical categories -- rebounding (second - 9.4 rpg.), blocked shots (third - 2.0 bpg.) and steals (eighth - 2.1 spg.) -- while ranking 40th in the nation in both rebounds and blocks.
Peters has tied the school records for 15-rebound games (7) and 15-point/15-rebound games (4) in a single season, with both marks first set nearly 35 years ago during the program's first varsity season (1977-78). She also amassed a career-high 11 double-doubles this year (tying for sixth-most in school history), including eight during the past 15 games, and she is the first Fighting Irish player to register 70 blocks, 70 steals and 70 assists in a single season.
Ranked No. 4 in the latest AP and ESPN/USA Today polls, Notre Dame (33-3) will take on No. 5 Maryland in the NCAA Raleigh Regional final (Elite Eight) at 9 p.m. (ET) Tuesday at PNC Arena in Raleigh, N.C., with ESPN to televise the game live to a national cable audience (and additional coverage on ESPN3 and WatchESPN). The matchup between the top-seeded Fighting Irish and second-seeded Terrapins also can be heard live on the radio in the Michiana area on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1), as well as worldwide on the Internet at www.UND.com, with veteran broadcaster Bob Nagle on the call.
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 @notredamewbb) or register for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the front page at UND.com.