March 5, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For the seventh time in her All-America career, Notre Dame senior guard/co-captain Skylar Diggins (South Bend, Ind./Washington) has been selected as the final BIG EAST Conference Player of the Week for the 2012-13 season, it was announced Tuesday by the conference office. It’s also the third time this season (and second in three weeks) Diggins has earned the award, with her seven career honors standing as the second-most by a Notre Dame player in program history, topped only by Ruth Riley’s eight citations from 1997-2001.
Diggins closed out the regular season in grand style last week, averaging 27.0 points, 6.3 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 4.0 steals per game in three Fighting Irish victories as Notre Dame won its second consecutive outright BIG EAST regular season title and registered the school’s first undefeated conference season since 1989-90 (and second in program history).
Diggins opened the three-game run on Feb. 26 in a 79-68 Senior Night win over No. 22/20 Syracuse at Purcell Pavilion, dropping in 24 points while adding game highs of eight assists and six steals (the latter matching her season best). Diggins scored 21 of her 24 points in the first half to help the Fighting Irish rally from an early 15-point deficit and match the program’s largest comeback win in its BIG EAST era (1995-96 to present).
Last Saturday in a 92-57 win at Providence, Diggins enjoyed a torrid shooting day, scoring 28 points on 8-of-15 field goals (including a season-high 4-of-7 from three-point range), while adding a game-best six assists.
In the final home game of her career on Monday night, Diggins played all 55 minutes (a school record) in Notre Dame’s epic 96-87 triple-overtime victory over No. 3 Connecticut that clinched the outright conference title for the Fighting Irish. She logged her third double-double of the season (ninth of her career) with a game-high 29 points and team-best 11 rebounds, and was Notre Dame’s unquestioned leader down the stretch, starting with her game-tying free throw with 27.2 seconds left in regulation that forced overtime. She then had four points and two critical steals in the third overtime period, highlighting a 10-0 Fighting Irish run that finally settled matters in the longest game in Notre Dame women’s basketball history.
Diggins’ last two outings also made her the first Fighting Irish player in more than six years to score at least 25 points in consecutive games, a feat last achieved by Charel Allen from Feb. 11-17, 2007, in wins over DePaul (25 points), at Villanova (25 points) and at Providence (26 points).
A finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award (nation’s top point guard) and the Senior CLASS Award (fans can vote daily for her at seniorclassaward.com), as well as a midseason candidate for the State Farm Wade Trophy, Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award (all going to the national player of the year), Diggins leads the BIG EAST in assists (5.9 apg.) and ranks third in scoring (17.3 ppg.), steals (3.0 spg.) and free throw percentage (.818). She also is among the conference’s best in assist/turnover ratio (6th – 1.68) and three-point percentage (7th – .344), and she leads the team with 25 double-figure scoring games (giving her 113 for her career, two off the Notre Dame record set by current Fighting Irish associate coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham from 1993-97).
Diggins’ selection marks the 84th time a Fighting Irish women’s basketball player has earned a BIG EAST weekly award (48 Players of the Week, 36 Freshmen of the Week), the second-most selections in conference history despite the fact Notre Dame joined the BIG EAST in 1995-96, a full 14 seasons after the league began sponsoring women’s basketball (1982-83). Besides Diggins’ three player-of-the-week selections this year, junior guard Kayla McBride (Erie, Pa./Villa Maria Academy) copped the honor on Jan. 7 (en route to being named the National Player of the Week by espnW and the United States Basketball Writers Association), and freshman guard Jewell Loyd (Lincolnwood, Ill./Niles West) was a four-time BIG EAST Freshman of the Week, garnering that award on Nov. 26, Dec. 10, Jan. 14 and Feb. 25.
Notre Dame players also have appeared regularly on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll during the 2012-13 season, with Diggins being chosen for that honor five times, junior forward Natalie Achonwa (Guelph, Ontario/St. Mary’s Catholic) being a three-time selection and McBride earning a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll twice.
Riding a school record-tying 23-game winning streak, No. 2 Notre Dame (28-1, 16-0 BIG EAST) is the top seed for the 2013 BIG EAST Championship and has earned a double-bye into the quarterfinal round, where it will play its first game at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday at the XL Center in Hartford, Conn., against the winner of the second-round game between eighth-seeded South Florida and No. 9 seed Rutgers. Notre Dame’s quarterfinal contest will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU, as well as worldwide on the WatchESPN platform. It also can be heard live in the South Bend area on Pulse FM (96.9/92.1) and free of charge worldwide at UND.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.
— ND —