Diggins Leads Notre Dame Past Kansas, 93-63

By: Hank Kurz Jr., AP Sports Writer
By: Hank Kurz Jr., AP Sports Writer

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) _ Skylar Diggins was already having such a great day, her coach figured she might as well make it historic.

The Notre Dame point guard scored 22 of her 27 points by halftime Sunday and became the school's career scoring leader, leading the top-seeded Fighting Irish to a 93-63 victory against Kansas in the semifinals of the Norfolk Regional.

Coach Muffet McGraw had forgotten all about Diggins' pursuit of the school scoring mark until the game was well in hand. When she asked, she was told the senior was just two points away from passing assistant coach Beth Cunningham.

``I told her, `You're coming out in 30 seconds. You might as well get one more,''' McGraw said she told Diggins.

Moments later, with 7:48 to play, the lefthander in her trademark white headband swished a 12-foot jumper.

``Coach told me to score two more. I didn't really know why, but I was like, `OK,''' Diggins said.

It was that kind of the day for Diggins, who heard talk beforehand that the Norfolk Regional was full of great point guards, and quickly showed she might not have a peer, especially at this time of year with the stakes so high.

``We play in games that are so much like Sweet 16 or Elite Eight kind of caliber games in our conference,'' she said. ``That helps all of us.''

So does having a leader that makes it all look so easy. Diggins added nine assists and three steals, scored nine straight during a 16-2 first-half run that put the Irish (34-1) ahead to stay, and six more to cap a 10-2 run into halftime.

``She's what everyone says,'' Kansas point guard Angel Goodrich, who finished with seven points and 13 assists, said. ``She's the whole package. She can create for herself and she can create for her teammates.''

The victory was the 29th in a row for Notre Dame, and left the Irish one victory shy of a third consecutive trip to the Final Four. They have lost in the title game each of the last two years.

Carolyn Davis led the upstart Jayhawks (20-14) with 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting, but the second No. 12 seed ever to get this far in the women's tournament since the seeding format began in 1994 didn't stick around long.

Notre Dame led 40-27 at halftime and started the second half with a 22-9 run.

``We definitely let them play comfortable and confident,'' Jayhawks coach Bonnie Henrickson said. ``I was disappointed our defensive effort wasn't better.''

Goodrich's head-to-head duel with Diggins never materialized. When Goodrich, like Diggins a senior, finally scored with 5:48 left in the first half, Diggins already had 16 points and her team was about to make another run before halftime.

It came in the final 4:30 of the half, a 10-2 burst capped by two 3-pointers by Diggins.

``When she starts hitting the 3, you're in trouble,'' McGraw said.

Natalie Achonwa added 17 points and 10 rebounds for Notre Dame, Jewell Loyd scored 15 and Kayla McBride 13 as the Fighting Irish shot 54.4 percent from the field, making 37 of 69 attempts.

Monica Engelman added 10 points for Kansas, but on just 4 of 16 shooting.

The Irish trailed 15-11 when Loyd made a 3-pointer with 14:37 to go and then Diggins took over. She hit a 16-footer, a 17-footer, a 3-pointer and then had a steal and layup, making it 23-15. After Davis' stickback for the Jayhawks, Ariel Braker scored inside and Diggins did, too, posting up Goodrich.

The 16-2 run gave the Fighting Irish a 27-17 lead, and the spread stayed about the same until late in the half when Diggins hit a 3-pointer, then followed a turnover with another 3 from the right side.

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Follow Hank on twitter at: http://twitter.com/hankkurzjr

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KU Release:

Kansas’ Run Ends at Regionals; Jayhawks Downed 93-63

NORFOLK, Va. – It had the makings of a Kansas success story, as Carolyn Davis scored 20-plus points and Angel Goodrich dished out double-digit assists, but No. 1 seed Notre Dame justified its tournament seeding and No. 2 overall national ranking by ending the magical 2013 NCAA Tournament run of the Jayhawks, 93-63, in the regional semifinal Sunday afternoon at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

The loss ends Kansas season, which finished with a 20-14 overall record, after collecting back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances. KU has posted 20 wins in three-straight seasons, including four of the last five. Notre Dame improved to 34-1 and increased its win streak to 29-straight games.

Davis led Kansas with 25 points and Monica Engelman added 10, as the only two Jayhawks to score double figures. Goodrich scored seven points and posted a game-high 13 assists.

ND’s Skylar Diggins drained her fourth three-point field goal at the 15:42 mark of the second half, which upped the Irish’s lead, 56-36. Notre Dame pushed the lead to 26 points, but a traditional three-point play by Monica Engelman closed the Kansas deficit to 19 points, 64-45, with 11:54 left. That was the closet KU ever got.

Kansas matched the Fighting Irish shot for shot in the game’s first five minutes, as the Jayhawks led, 15-14. Diggins caught fire at that point and scored all nine points in a 9-0 Irish run to take a 23-15 lead at the 10:22 mark. KU held tight for the remainder of the half, until the final two minutes, when Diggins drained back-to-back threes for a 40-27 halftime lead. Diggins poured in 22 points in the first half and finished with a game-best 27. With that scoring effort, Diggins became the all-time leading scorer in Notre Dame history.

ND will now face the winner of the second regional semifinal between Duke and Nebraska.


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