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ND Women’s Basketball: No limit

Laura Myers | Monday, February 8, 2010

A career day for Skylar Diggins meant another win for No. 3 Notre Dame.

The freshman guard achieved her first double-double as she led all players with 23 points, 10 rebounds and six assists Saturday as Notre Dame defeated Pittsburgh 86-76. Her points and rebounds totals were new career highs, while she tied her previous high in assists. 

“I think [Skylar] is having a great year in general,” Irish coach Muffet McGraw said. “I think she’s played well since the beginning of the season. She’s been our leading scorer all year long.”

Diggins helped Notre Dame (21-1, 8-1 Big East) overcome rebounding troubles that have become a weakness in recent weeks. The Irish out-rebounded the Panthers 38-32.

“We really stressed winning the rebounding battle,” Diggins said. “That was number one on our list today, and we did.”

Pittsburgh (12-10, 1-8) kept the game close early but a 3-point shot from Diggins widened the lead to 14-10 after five minutes. Though the margin was rarely in double digits, Pittsburgh did not threaten the lead.

After Diggins put up 17 points in the first half, senior guard Lindsay Schrader took over scoring duties in the second period. She scored 10 in the second half and 18 total points on 7-of-11 shooting.

“You’re not going to shoot any better than that,” McGraw said. “I thought she did a good job.”

Notre Dame also came out ahead in its post play, outscoring Pittsburgh 46-34 in the paint despite the Panthers’ size advantage.

“We were aggressive,” McGraw said. “We really were aggressive, attacking. We just did a nice job inside.”

Schrader said the size difference was a factor at the beginning of the game but that Notre Dame was able to adjust.

“I think we just had to go around them,” she said. “A few of us got our shots blocked, but you can’t go overtop a six-six girl. We started to go around them and that’s when they started fouling.”

The Panthers got into foul trouble early in the second half, putting Notre Dame in the bonus just seven minutes in. The Irish finished 21-of-29 from the free throw line. Four Pittsburgh players ended with four fouls each.

“Every game in the Big East is going to be physical. Every single game,” Shrader said. “Nobody’s going to come in and push us. We’re going to push right back. Being physical is part of our game. We like being physical.”

Despite the physical nature of the game, both teams handled the ball well. Notre Dame had a season-low nine turnovers, while Pittsburgh had just 10.

Pittsburgh guard Taneisha Harrison led her team with 20 points. Three other Panthers scored in double digits as the Irish gave up 15 points more than their season average.

“I was disappointed in our defense,” McGraw said. “Seventy-six points. That’s unforgivable. We’ve got a lot of work to do with our defense.”

Notre Dame will travel to Cincinnati Tuesday for a 7 p.m. tipoff against the Bearcats.