Thursday, November 29, 2012 9:28 pm
Diggins leads No. 5 Irish women past Central Mich.
The Associated Press
Ariel Braker added 10 points and eight rebounds to help the Fighting Irish (5-0) close November undefeated for the first time since the 2009-10 season.
Jessica Green scored 19 points for Central Michigan (2-3).
In the program's first home game against a top-5 team, the Chippewas played like they belonged. The teams exchanged leads nine times in the first half before Notre Dame took a 40-39 lead at the break.
The Chippewas led by as many as four in the first half.
Green scored 12 points in the first 20 minutes, and sophomore star Crystal Bradford grabbed seven of the team's 21 first-half rebounds to help keep the Chippewas within reach of the Fighting Irish.
Central Michigan's gritty effort didn't go unnoticed, either. The nearly sold-out crowd at McGuirk Arena gave the players a standing ovation as they headed into the locker room at the end of the first half, and the stands remained full until the closing seconds of the game.
Notre Dame opened the second half on a 7-0 run but Central Michigan pulled within one with under 12 minutes to play. The Fighting Irish didn't truly pull away until Diggins hit a free throw for a 70-60 lead with 45 seconds to play.
The matchup marked the first time in the last four seasons that the Fighting Irish went on the road to play a Mid-American Conference opponent.
Coming into Thursday's matchup, the Chippewas had won two of their last four contests against ranked opponents, dating back to an 84-75 win over then-No. 23 Louisville in December 2009.