Sept. 29, 2017
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – With the WNBA Finals and the 2017-18 season nearing conclusion, it was time to look back on the Fighting Irish five-some in the pros. Skylar Diggins-Smith, Jewell Loyd, Kayla McBride, Natalie Achonwa and Lindsay Allen all displayed areas of growth while three tasted WNBA postseason play.
Diggins-Smith recorded the second-best season of her five-year WNBA career, leading the Dallas Wings to its first playoff berth since moving to Dallas. Her 18.5 points per game (ppg) not only led the squad, but also ranked seventh overall in the league, all while leading the league in minutes as well. Diggins-Smith also posted career best season averages in rebounds (3.5), blocks (0.8) and assists (5.8), with the latter ranking fourth in the WNBA.
The 2013 Notre Dame grad was named a 2017 WNBA All-Star, AP WNBA First Team and for the second time in her career – All-WNBA First Team. In addition, Diggins-Smith crossed over the 2000-point mark this season against the Dream on Aug. 19, and is now at 2,096 points overall in her career.
Loyd continued her WNBA uprising in year No. 3, once again topping her scoring total from the year prior. In fact, her 17.7 ppg ranked ninth overall in the league, ultimately ranking in the top-20 in three other statistical categories: 12th in three-point shooting percentage (.386), 13th in steals (1.3) and 17th in free-throw percentage (.863).
In addition, Loyd guided the Seattle Storm to a WNBA Playoffs berth for the second straight season.
Playing in her first full season after a foot fracture ended her 2016 campaign early, McBride made the most of it by leading the San Antonio Stars in scoring at 15.4 ppg, which also ranked 14th in the league.
McBride was just as dynamic from the free-throw line, knocking down an impressive 124-of-134 from the charity stripe, as her .925 free-throw percentage ranked third in the WNBA. Lastly, McBride tallied 1.1 steals per game which ranked 23rd.
In her third season with the Indiana Fever, Achonwa started in 17-of-34 games played, averaging 7.1 ppg – nearly double her average from the year before. In fact, Achonwa doubled her stat totals from the 2016 season in almost every major statistical category: minutes, rebounds, assists, blocks, points, field goals made and free-throws made.
Furthermore, Achonwa posted career season bests in shooting percentage (.557), free-throw percentage (.763) rebounds (127), assists (25) and blocks (17).
Drafted by the New York Liberty earlier this year, Allen’s first season in the league lasted the longest of any Irish in the WNBA, earning a first round bye before bowing out in the second round of the playoffs. Allen played in 28 games during the regular season where she averaged 1.9 points, 1.5 rebounds and 2.2 assists.
Lastly, Allen averaged 6.6 apg over 40 minutes, which was not only the highest mark on the Liberty, but also close to her 7.6 tally that ranked fourth in the nation in her senior year for the Irish.
Josh Bates joined Fighting Irish Media as associate athletics communications director in July of 2017, serving as the women’s basketball and men’s golf contact. Bates earned both his bachelor’s (2011) and master’s (2014) degree in sports management from the University of Illinois. He also worked as a grad assistant at Illinois from 2012-14 and worked full-time at Tulane University from 2014-17.