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Baylor’s Odyssey Sims, left and Notre Dame’s Skylar Diggins chase a loose ball during the first half of their game Wednesday in South Bend.

Irish come up Lil bit short again

Diggins struggles as Baylor wins in front of rapper Lil Wayne

– Notre Dame fell short against Baylor again.

The Irish only got points from four players and star guard Skylar Diggins scored the least as Notre Dame lost 73-61 Wednesday night in a rematch of last season’s NCAA tournament title game that drew 9,149 to Purcell Pavilion, including rapper Lil Wayne.

Diggins scored only eight points on 4-of-19 shooting, while Baylor star Brittney Griner had 24 points and 14 rebounds.

“I thought we could have won with what we had out there if I would have just made a freaking shot,” Diggins said.

Freshman guard Jewell Loyd led No. 5 Notre Dame (5-1) with 24 points, hitting four of five three-pointers. Guard Kayla McBride scored 18, and forward Natalie Achonwa had 11 points before fouling out with 1:34 to play.

“I think we need a little more off the bench,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “We still need that fifth and sixth and maybe seventh person that we can count on coming in to help us score.”

Baylor guard Odyssey Sims, who returned after missing four games with a hamstring injury, had 16 points. Forward Brooklyn Pope was the only player off the bench to score, finishing with 14, and guard Jordan Madden added 12 for the No. 3 Bears (7-1).

“This is the best point guard in the country,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said, pointing at Sims during the postgame news conference. “What else does she have to do to get that recognition? She’s played Skylar four times now and won every ball game. She’s won a national championship.

“Odyssey (who had seven turnovers) didn’t have one of her better games either, but she never stopped being tough on that floor.”

Notre Dame started strong, forcing Baylor into nine turnovers and building a 20-11 lead in the game’s first 12 1/2 minutes.

But the Irish couldn’t close the first half as strong as it opened it.

Baylor only committed two more turnovers in the final 7 1/2 minutes of the first half and outscored Notre Dame 22-7 the rest of the way to take a 33-27 lead into halftime.

“We just kept doing what we are used to doing,” Griner said of the Bears hitting their last nine shots of the first half.

“We just stayed in the flow. Don’t change anything just because your shots aren’t falling. Just keep putting them up there, they are going to fall eventually.”

Notre Dame started the second half on a 9-2 run to take a 36-35 lead with 15 minutes to play, and the teams exchanged the lead five times until the game was tied at 52 with 7:40 to play.

That is when the Bears went on a 10-0 run to take a 62-52 lead with 4:17 to play, and they never trailed the Irish again.

Even though her team lost, McGraw saw plenty to build on after the game.

“All of the things that went wrong today, I think we can fix,” McGraw said.

tkrausz@jg.net

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