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Providence falls behind early, never makes much of a run in losing 89-44 to No. 2 Notre Dame

  • 6f9063b927a1bb03270f6a706700190a.jpg

    Notre Dame guard Jewell Loyd, left, and Providence forward Alexis Harris battle for a rebound in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)The Associated Press

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    Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins, right, scores her 2,000th career point as Providence guard Symone Roberts defends in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, in South Bend, Ind. (AP Photo/Joe Raymond)The Associated Press

Providence couldn't keep the momentum from its come-from-behind victory against Villanova going against No. 2 Notre Dame.

Three days after rallying from a 19-point deficit, the Friars could do nothing Saturday to slow Skylar Diggins and the rest of the Fighting Irish. Diggins scored 21 points, all in the first half when she was 9-of-9 shooting, to lead Notre Dame to an 89-44 victory as the Friars fell to 0-21 all-time against the Irish.

"We have a long way to go," Providence coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl said. "We're in the beginning stages of a total building phase, and that's what we aim to do this year. We've seen some good moments this year and we have improved. I know it didn't look like that today."

Tori Rule led the Friars with 12 points, all in the second half, as she shot 4-of-12. Symone Roberts, Providence's leading scorer at 15.3 points a game, was 1-of-8 shooting for two points.

"The biggest thing that affects her is kids that are almost just as quick and stronger. Certainly bigger guards can put pressure on here and create some things. That's the way it was tonight," Robinson Fruchtl said.

It didn't take Diggins long to get started Saturday. She took a pass from Kayla McBride on the opening tip-off to become the fourth Irish player to ever score 2,000 career points. Diggins said she wanted to get it over with quickly, and the sellout crowd erupted.

"The roar that came when I made that basket is something I won't forget," Diggins said. "It's special because I'm from here."

Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw was asked where she would place Diggins among Notre Dame's all-time greats.

"Well, right now she's fourth," McGraw said, smiling.

Diggins, who is averaging 15.5 points a game, has a shot at becoming Notre Dame's all-time leading scorer. Irish assistant coach Beth Morgan holds the mark at 2,322 points, set from 1993-97.

"It will be great if Sky breaks the record. I think Beth will be the biggest cheerleader for her to do that," McGraw said.

Diggins quickly got started on moving to her next milestone, hitting from inside, mid-range and behind the 3-point line as Providence (6-13, 1-5 Big East) could do nothing to slow her. The only mistake Diggins made in the first half was to miss a free throw as the Irish (18-1, 7-0) jumped to a 46-15 lead.

"She took over the game," McGraw said.

Diggins had a 10-0 run on her own, starting with a free throw to give the Irish an 11-4 lead. She then scored on a pair of layups 12 seconds apart, then added another layup and a 3-pointer as Notre Dame opened a 20-4 lead.

"I was just looking for my opportunities and taking what they gave me," Diggins said. "I was getting good passes, too. We were getting steals and we were getting out in transition."

Even with Notre Dame reserves playing much of the second half the Irish continued to pull away. Natalie Achonwa had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Irish and Jewell Loyd added 10.

The Irish outshot the Friars 51 percent to 31 percent, scoring 56 points in the paint. Notre Dame also had a 51-26 rebounding advantage.