Diggins leads Irish women to rout of Tennessee
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Skylar Diggins matched a season high with 27 points Monday night and No. 2 Notre Dame routed No. 7 Tennessee 72-44, holding the Vols to their lowest scoring output in school history.
Devereaux Peters had 16 points and 16 rebounds for the Irish (20-1), who have won 17 straight. Tennessee (14-5) got 13 points from Meighan Simmons, but shot just 27.9 percent in the lopsided loss.
Notre Dame was 0-20 all-time against the Vols before a 73-59 victory in the NCAA regional finals last March in Dayton, Ohio. The Irish haven't lost since Nov. 20 to top-ranked Baylor and have now beaten both UConn and Tennessee on their home floor this season after toppling both in last year's NCAA tournament.
Leading at the half, the Irish jumped out early in the second as Diggins sank a 3-pointer and Peters had three inside baskets in an 11-3 run that opened up a 39-21 lead three minutes in. Tennessee continued to miss on everything, from both the field and the free-throw line.
Diggins made a nice strip of an inside pass, dribbled the length of the court, passed to Peters and then got it back for a layup to make it 44-26 with just over 14 minutes left. Then after picking up her third foul, Diggins hit her fourth 3-pointer of the game to make it a 21-point lead. Diggins was 10 of 17 from the field and 5 for 7 on 3-pointers.
After Tennessee closed to within 16 with about seven minutes to go, the Irish went on one final run to put it away. Kayla McBride added 17 points for the Irish.
The Vols made just 17 of 61 field-goal attempts and were only 7 for 16 from the free-throw line.
Rebounding, including eight early offensive caroms, kept the Vols close in the early stages of the game because they could not make a shot. They missed 14 of their first 17 attempts from the floor and finished the first half 7 for 35 (20 percent). And the poor shooting extended to the line, where the Vols were only 4 for 10. The field-goal percentage and total points were first-half lows for the Vols this season.
McBride, showing an ability to break for the basket, had nine straight Notre Dame points at one juncture and scored 11 in the first half. Diggins ended up with 10 at the half, hitting two free throws with 2 seconds left to put the Irish up 28-18.
Tennessee's leading scorer, Shekinna Stricklen, who missed the previous game against LSU with a sprained knee, returned to the lineup and managed five points — five points under her average. And Vols guard Taber Spani, who has been sidelined with a bone bruise in her left knee since Dec. 26, was also able to play.
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt, who has been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's, received a nice ovation when she came on the floor before the game and waved to the crowd, most of which was dressed in lime green.