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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, February 17, 2013 5:37 pm

Diggins leads Notre Dame women over Marquette

The Associated Press

Marquette women's basketball coach Terri Mitchell knew her team would have to play a near-perfect game to have a chance to upset No. 2 Notre Dame.

Unfortunately her team was nowhere close to that as the Golden Eagles struggled shooting, were outrebounded and turned the ball over in a 87-49 loss to the Irish on Sunday.

"It was not one of our better games," she said. "We had a lot of great shots in the first half and we missed. Opportunities were there and we didn't finish it."

Marquette trailed by only 10 points late in the first half, but Notre Dame scored the last 9 points of the first half and the first 12 points of the second half to put the game away.

"We talked about rebounding and taking care of the ball and we didn't do either thing," Mitchell said. "You could see it took the air out of us. (Our players) were rattled. They didn't want to be in that kind of game."

Sarina Simmons scored 12 points and Arlesia Morse added 11 for Marquette (12-13, 4-8). The Golden Eagles have lost six of its last eight games.

Mitchell said the Golden Eagles have to quickly put the loss behind them and get ready to play St. John's on Wednesday.

"In this kind of situation, you find some good and keep preaching about getting better," she said. "We're already changing our focus to St. John's."

It was more of the same for Notre Dame (24-1, 12-0), which cruised to its 19th consecutive victory as Skylar Diggins scored 23 points and Natalie Achonwa added 17 points and 10 rebounds.

With her 23 points, Diggins passed Katryna Gaither on Notre Dame's all-time scoring list. She now has 2,131 points, trailing only current Irish assistant coach Beth (Morgan) Cunningham, who scored 2,322 points during her career.

Diggins' defensive rebound with 13:01 remaining in the first half also allowed her to become the first women's basketball player in Notre Dame history with 2,000 points, 500 rebounds and 500 assists in her career.

"I didn't even know about it until they told me," Diggins said. ""It is something I that is pretty cool. I can think about when I'm old and gray,"

Diggins said she is excited to try and pass her assistant coach and said both records will mean more after she leaves Notre Dame.

"All that matters is that we are winning," she said.

And winning the Irish are. The victory against Marquette was a school record 20 consecutive regular-season road win, including 16 straight in the conference. Notre Dame's lone loss of the season was to No. 1 Baylor 71-63 on Dec. 5.

The Irish led by 19 at halftime and put the game away early in the second half as Notre Dame scored the first 12 points of the half to grab a 46-15 lead when Diggins scored on a layup. Diggins was the key to the spurt as she scored six points, including a steal and breakway layup.