NORFOLK, Va. -- Big game. Center stage. Time for a big-time player to step up. Women's college basketball has no greater prime-time player than Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins. The 5-foot-9 senior guard finished with 27 points and became Notre Dame's career scoring leader with 2,323 on Sunday to lead the No. 1 seed Irish to a 93-63 victory over 12th-seeded Kansas in the semifinal round of the Norfolk Regional in the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame (34-1) will return to action Tuesday night against either Duke or Nebraska for a trip to the Final Four. Diggins passed current Irish assistant Beth (Morgan) Cunningham's career record (2,322, 1993-97) by making a short jumper with 7:42 left in the second half, when the outcome was all but decided. Diggins surpassed the record in 148 games. Cunningham played in 126. Once she got the record, Diggins retired to the bench. She also had nine assists. Leading by 13 at intermission, Notre Dame went on an 11-0 run early in the second half to go up by 26 at 62-36. A Notre Dame lineup that is normally more balanced was decidedly lopsided on Easter Sunday. It was Diggins ... and everybody else. That's the way the tournament has been so far. Jewell Loyd was dominant against Tennessee-Martin. Kayla McBride was the offensive leader against Iowa. Natalie Achonwa, who had just one point at halftime, finished with 17 against Kansas (20-14). Loyd had 15 and McBride scored 13. Carolyn Davis led Kansas with 25 points. Notre Dame is making a bid for its third straight appearance in the national championship game. Two years ago, the Irish lost to Texas A&M. Last year, they fell to Baylor. Diggins took charge in the first half and gave Notre Dame the breathing room it needed. Midway through the first half, Diggins went on a 9-0 run all by herself to turn a one-point deficit into an eight-point advantage -- a lead the Irish never surrendered. The All-American guard had 22 points at halftime, leading Notre Dame to a 40-27 advantage at the break. The game was a bit dicey for the Irish early. Kansas wasn't about to roll over because it was a prohibitive underdog. The Jayhawks' 6-foot-3 Davis gave the Irish plenty of problems. She had 14 points in the first half and made several Notre Dame post players alter their shots. Kansas hit seven of its first nine shots from the field, and for the first time in its three tournament games, the Irish fell behind briefly. A 3-pointer by Monica Engelman gave Kansas a 13-9 lead about eight minutes into the first half. From there, Diggins loaded Notre Dame on her shoulders and carried the Irish to the Elite Eight.
- Sports & Recreation
- Skylar Diggins