Feb. 17, 2013
MILWAUKEE (AP) – When Notre Dame women’s basketball coach Muffet McGraw was recruiting Skylar Diggins, she told the recruit that she could someday become the leading scoring in Irish history.
Four years later, Diggins is closing in on making McGraw’s statement come true. Diggins scored 23 points and Natalie Achonwa added 17 points and 10 rebounds as No. 2 Notre Dame rolled to its 19th consecutive victory with an 87-49 rout of Marquette on Sunday.
Diggins passed Katryna Gaither on the school’s all-time scoring list. She now has 2,131 points, trailing only current Irish assistant coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, who scored 2,322 points during her career.
”You say that when you are recruiting someone hoping that it comes true,” McGraw said. ”But with Skylar, she has been incredible right from the beginning. There was no learning curve. I’m not sure what I’m going to do without her next year.”
Diggins’ defensive rebound with 13 minutes remaining in the first half also allowed her to become the first women’s basketball player in Notre Dame history with 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in her career.
”I didn’t even know about it until they told me,” Diggins said. ””It is something I that is pretty cool. I can think about when I’m old and gray,”
Diggins said she is excited to try and pass her assistant coach and said both records will mean more after she leaves Notre Dame.
”All that matters is that we are winning,” she said.
And winning the Irish (24-1, 12-0) are. The victory against Marquette was a school-record 20th consecutive regular-season road win, including 14 straight in the conference. Notre Dame’s lone loss of the season was to No. 1 Baylor 71-63 on Dec. 5.
McGraw said she is very pleased with the way her team is playing as the Irish head down the stretch of the season. The Irish were again without senior guard and co-captain Kaila Turner, who did not play for the third consecutive game due to a left elbow injury.
”We are playing very well right now and are giving some of our younger players some experience,” she said. ”We have some tough games left and we have to finish the season off strong.”
The Irish led by 19 at halftime and put the game away early in the second half as Notre Dame scored the first 12 points of the half to grab a 46-15 lead when Diggins scored on a layup. Diggins was the key to the spurt as she scored six points, including a steal and breakway layup.
In all, Notre Dame scored 21 unanswered points as the Irish scored the last nine points of the first half.
Marquette could get no closer than 24 points the rest of the way as the Golden Eagles hit just 17 of 51 shots in the game and had 20 turnovers.
Sarina Simmons scored 12 points and Arlesia Morse added 11 for Marquette (12-13, 4-8).
Marquette coach Terri Mitchell said she knew her team had to be perfect to have a chance against powerful Notre Dame.
”Obviously we didn’t do that,” she said. ”We had a lot of great shots in the first half and we missed. Opportunities were there and we didn’t finish it.”
Mitchell said she continues to be impressed with Diggins play.
”All those awards she has, there’s a reason for that,” she said. ”She had a very good game.”
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: With Sunday’s win (coupled with other results) Notre Dame has clinched a double-bye for the upcoming BIG EAST Conference Championship (March 8-12 at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn.) … the Fighting Irish match the best 25-game record in school history (24-1), duplicating the marks set by the 2000-01 and 2011-12 teams … Notre Dame is off to a 12-0 start in BIG EAST play for the first time since 2000-01 and only the fourth time since joining the conference in 1995-96 (both the ’96-97 and ’00-01 teams opened 12-0, while the ’99-00 squad started 15-0) … the Fighting Irish extend their winning streak to 19 games, still fourth-longest in school history … Notre Dame also earns its 15th consecutive BIG EAST victory, second-longest since joining the conference 18 seasons ago, and longest in a single season (the Fighting Irish won 18 in a row across two seasons from Feb. 17, 1999-Feb. 22, 2000) … Notre Dame posts its 20th consecutive regular-season road win, as well as its 25th in the last 30 road games overall … the Fighting Irish log their 14th consecutive BIG EAST regular-season road win, one shy of the program record for ANY conference (15 games in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League from Feb. 25, 1989-Feb. 14, 1991) … with her rebound at 12:43 of the first half, senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins became the first Notre Dame women’s basketball player to amass 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in her career (and just the second Fighting Irish player of either gender, following men’s basketball standout Chris Thomas from 2001-05) … Diggins also moved into second place on the Notre Dame career scoring list with 2,131 points, passing Katryna Gaither (2,126 from 1993-97) on a layup with 18:31 left in the second half — current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham is the only person now ahead of Diggins on the school’s all-time scoring rolls (2,322 points from 1993-97) … Notre Dame registered a season-low eight turnovers, two fewer than its previous best set twice before (most recently on Dec. 31 vs. Saint Francis-Pa. at Purcell Pavilion) … the Fighting Irish are 104-28 (.788) in the month of February since joining the BIG EAST and 152-43 (.779) in February games during the 26-year Muffet McGraw era (1987-88 to present) … Notre Dame has held eight of its last 11 opponents to 52 points or fewer … the Fighting Irish are 15-0 this season and 273-15 (.948) in their BIG EAST tenure when holding opponents to fewer than 60 points … Notre Dame is 10-0 this season when scoring at least 80 points and has a 55-2 (.965) record in such games during the past four seasons (2009-10 to present), as well as a 178-6 (.967) mark in 80-point games during its BIG EAST era … the Fighting Irish are 23-0 this season when leading at the half, as well as 107-2 (.982) in the past four seasons and 270-19 (.934) since the start of the 2000-01 season … Notre Dame improves to 32-6 all-time against Marquette (not counting two wins the Golden Eagles earned in 1976 when the Fighting Irish were still a club program), with the 32 wins remaining the most against one opponent in Notre Dame women’s basketball history (the 38 series games also ties with the Connecticut series for frequency, although DePaul will join that group when it plays host to the Fighting Irish on Feb. 24) … Notre Dame had scored at least 70 points in 26 of its last 32 games against Marquette, while the Golden Eagles have reached that mark five times … junior forward Natalie Achonwa registered her 14th double-double of the season, and seventh in BIG EAST play (leading the conference in both categories) — it also ties Achonwa for third on the Notre Dame single-season double-doubles list with Gaither (14 in 1995-96), with the only players ahead of Achonwa being Shari Matvey (15 in 1979-80) and Gaither (16 in 1996-97) … with four steals on Sunday, Diggins is nine thefts away from tying current Fighting Irish assistant coach Niele Ivey’s record for career steals (Ivey had 348 from 1996-2001) … sophomore guard Madison Cable earned her third starting nod of the season and tied her career high with seven rebounds … freshman guard Hannah Huffman posted career highs with seven points and three assists.