NCAA Women: Diggins Etches Her Name in Notre Dame Lore; No. 1 Baylor Goes Down
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.
Notre Dame will play No. 2 seed Duke on Tuesday for a berth in the Final Four.
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 past 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.
DUKE 53, NEBRASKA 45
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) – Tricia Liston scored 17 points and Duke shook off a slow start to beat Nebraska in the semifinals of the Norfolk Regional.
Alexis Jones added 14 points for the Blue Devils (33-2), who also struggled last weekend at home. They advanced to Tuesday night’s game against top-seeded Notre Dame with a berth in the Final Four on the line.
The Cornhuskers (25-9), in the round of 16 for just the second time in school history, struggled from the field.
OKLAHOMA CITY REGIONAL
TENNESSEE 74, OKLAHOMA 59
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Kamiko Williams scored 15 points, Cierre Burdick had 13 and second-seeded Tennessee routed Oklahoma in the regional semifinals.
The Lady Vols (27-7) opened a 20-point lead in the first half and never let Oklahoma make a comeback, improving to 26-5 in regional semifinals.
Tennessee will face No. 5 seed Louisville on Tuesday night in the round of eight. The Lady Vols have lost in the regional finals the past two seasons and haven’t made it to the Final Four since winning the national title in 2008.
Tennessee also went through an Oklahoma City regional on its way to the championship that season, with Candace Parker leading the way.
Sharane Campbell scored 22 points and Joanna McFarland had 14 for No. 6 seed Oklahoma (24-11).
No. 1 Baylor 81
OKLAHOMA CITY – Shoni Schimmel scored 22 points and Monique Reid hit two free throws with 2.6 seconds left to lift sixth-seeded Louisville to a stunning 82-81 upset of top-ranked, defending national champion Baylor.
Odyssey Sims scored 28 points and hit a pair of free throws with 9.1 seconds left to give the Lady Bears (34-2) their only lead of the game.
Reid caught an inbounds pass near the baseline after that and went coast to coast before getting fouled by All-American Brittney Griner on her way to the basket.
Sims had one last chance to save Baylor’s season after Reid’s free throws but was off-target and late on a desperation heave.
The Lady Bears had been practically invincible for the past four months, winning 32 straight games mostly by double digits.
Louisville (27-8) tied an NCAA record with 16 3-pointers to pull off the upset.