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Irish open Big East tourney with win

HARTFORD, Conn. – Natalie Achonwa had 20 points and 20 rebounds to help No. 2 Notre Dame beat South Florida 75-66 on Sunday in the Big East women’s tournament quarterfinals.

Skylar Diggins, the Big East player of the year, added 15 points for the Irish – who have won a school record 24 straight games. They will face No. 13 Louisville in the semifinals Monday night.

These two teams met in South Florida in early January and Notre Dame came away with a 75-71 overtime victory. Sunday’s game was more of the same.

Notre Dame (29-1) trailed 51-47 midway through the second half before scoring eight straight points, including four by Achonwa.

The Smith sisters – Andrell and Andrea – did all they could to keep the Bulls (21-10) in the game, but they couldn’t regain the lead.

Andrell finished with 27 points while Andrea had 18.

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