Score: No. 1 Notre Dame 83, No. 4 Louisville 59
Stars: Notre Dame: Skylar Diggins 14 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast. Kayla McBride 17 Pts, 2 Reb, 5 Ast. Louisville: Shoni Schimmel 20 Pts, 6 Reb.
Story: On Sunday, Notre Dame had to sweat out a win against a feisty and underrated South Florida team. Monday was a little different, as the Big East regular season champions had little issue putting away the fourth-seeded Louisville Cardinals by a score of 83-59 to advance to the conference championship game for the third straight season.
The win extends Notre Dame’s school-record win streak to 25 games, which seems rather short compared to its championship game opponent, Connecticut.
The Irish move into the championship game after feeling very little pressure from the Cardinals. Notre Dame took a 12-0 lead within the first three and a half minutes, and the Cardinals did not score their first points until the 16:04 mark of the half.
After that, the Cardinals made a game out of it, coming back from a 16-6 deficit to tie the game at 16. But the Irish quickly got the game back in their control, and went into the half up by six.
A crucial element to Notre Dame’s ability to get back in control was the three-point shooting of Skylar Diggins. The All-American went 4-5 from behind the arc, and has been feeling good from behind the line as of late.
“My teammates did a good job finding me,” Diggins said. “I got a couple of good shots. They did a good job of hitting me in transition and when I was open. We needed it, and we came back.”
“I think when Skylar is on she’s pretty much got the green light to shoot when she wants,” Coach Muffet McGraw said after the game.
After the half, it was all Notre Dame. A six-point lead turned into a 26 point lead within 10 minutes, and the Irish led by as many as 31 before ultimately capping off a 24-point victory.
Notre Dame enters what could be its final Big East championship game – certainly the last one against the Huskies – having never won the tournament, something they fully expect to change.
“For our team to get a championship for Coach McGraw, a Big East championship, I think that’s what we’re missing besides a national championship,” Diggins said. “It’s an opportunity for us to make history and keep our year going.”
Tuesday’s championship game will start at 7 p.m. and will be aired on ESPN.