Another game, another milestone, or two, or three...
Junior Kayla McBride has been on a tear of late. She made 10 of her 15 field goal attempts, including both threes, in the 92-57 win at Providence.
No. 2 Notre Dame clinched at least a share of the Big East title for the second straight year with a 92-57 victory at Providence on Saturday afternoon. The Fighting Irish can win the regular season outright if they can defeat arch rival and No. 3 Connecticut Monday night in a blockbuster tilt that will be on ESPN2.
Head coach Muffet McGraw’s 27-1 Irish are 15-0 in the Big East, highlighted by a 73-72 victory at UConn on Jan. 5, giving them their fifth victory in the last six meetings versus the superpower Huskies who have won seven national titles since 1995 and been to five other Final Fours during that time.
Freshman Irish guard Jewell Loyd, who had started 26 of the previous 27 contests while averaging 11.9 points and 5.2 rebounds, did not play at Providence because of reportedly suffering a concussion, or at least symptoms of one, in the victory against Syracuse this past Tuesday. She must still pass a cognitive test to be declared ready against Connecticut.
With the victory against the Friars, Notre Dame’s winning streak was extended to 22, the second longest in school history, behind only the 23-0 start by the 2001 national champs.
Senior All-American Skylar Diggins scored 28 points while also becoming the all-time steals leader in school history and handing out a game high six assists. Her two steals against the Friars give her 349 in her career, one more than current Notre Dame assistant Niele Ivey had from 1996-01 as the point guard for the national champs.
Meanwhile, junior guard Kayla McBride has continued her recent scoring surge. After tallying a career high 25 points in the comeback win against Syracuse — eclipsing 1,000 career points in the process — McBride connected on 10 of her 15 field goal attempts (including both beyond the arc) at Providence for 24 points. Diggins has scored 52 points in the past two games while McBride has added 49.
Junior Natalie Achonwa put up her typical quality box score-stuffing line with 14 points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocked shots. She was two rebounds short of tying the Notre Dame single season record of 16 double-doubles.
Just like in the Jan. 26 rout of Providence (89-44), Diggins took the opening tap and scored less than five seconds into the game. The Irish converted their first six attempts from three-point range and built a commanding 52-32 by halftime against Providence, which lost its sixth straight while falling to 7-21 overall and 2-13 in the Big East.
No stat better demonstrated Notre Dame’s dominance than the 51-21 disparity in rebounds.
Diggins now has 2,200 career points and is 123 short of breaking Notre Dame associate coach Beth Morgan-Cunningham’s record of 2,322 set from 1993-97.
Other records Notre Dame continued to add to is the win at Providence was the 19th straight victory in Big East regular-season play, 16th consecutive conference road win, and 22nd in a row road conquest overall.