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ND Women’s Basketball: Notre Dame powers by Hoyas

Andrew Owens | Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Georgetown sophomore guard Sugar Rodgers may have narrowly beaten out Irish sophomore guard Skylar Diggins for last year’s Big East Rookie of the Year honors, but it was the Irish guard who got the best of her Georgetown counterpart Tuesday night in an 80-58 victory over the Hoyas.

The sophomore jumpstarted the Irish offense with eight points in the first four minutes of the game. She made a layup and was fouled on the first play of the contest. She added the free throw to give Notre Dame (16-4, 5-1 Big East) an early 3-0 advantage over Georgetown (14-5, 2-3 Big East).

“Skylar was Skylar tonight,” Irish coach Muffett McGraw said. “She took over the game in the first half and didn’t try to do too much in the second half.”

Diggins hit a three-pointer at the 12:23 mark to give the Irish their largest lead of the first half at 23-10. The Hoyas were unable to cut the deficit to less than 10 and entered halftime trailing 45-33. Much of the Irish success was due to Diggins’ leadership, as she has evolved into the most vocal leader on the team.

“We had so many seniors last year that they did most of the communicating,” she said. “This year I do a lot more talking.”

Notre Dame was able to jump ahead by such a large margin due to its suffocating defense and a season-best performance from behind the arc, sinking eight of 14 attempts. Senior guard Brittany Mallory made three long-range baskets to lead the Irish. She was cleared to play shortly before tip-off following a collision Saturday against Pittsburgh.

An 8-0 run early in the second half extended the Irish lead to 19 points. The run started when Georgetown junior forward Adria Crawford fouled Diggins and was assessed a technical foul due to a scuffle following the play. Diggins sunk both technical free throws.

Notre Dame eliminated any doubt of the outcome after a 7-0 run that gave them a 76-53 advantage with 5:18 to play. They never looked back and were able to avenge last season’s disappointing loss to the Hoyas.

The team has won 11 of 12 and McGraw said she expected the team to continue to improve as the season progresses.

“I think we’re growing,” she said. “We’re getting better every game and doing some good things every game, but we can still get better.”

It was the largest victory over a ranked opponent for the Irish since 2004, when they defeated Miami (Fla.) by 35.