LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Junior Skylar Diggins scored 21 points and freshman Kayla McBride added 15 to lead No. 3/4 Notre Dame over No. 16/16 Louisville 68-52 on Monday afternoon, moving the Fighting Irish one step closer to a BIG EAST title.
Notre Dame (26-2, 13-1 BIG EAST) controls its destiny in its quest for its first regular-season league championship since tying Connecticut for it in 2001 on its way to the national title.
The Fighting Irish are a game up in the loss column against the Huskies with a game left against USF on Saturday before playing at Connecticut next Monday.
Sophomore Antonita Slaughter scored 12 points for Louisville (19-8, 8-6 BIG EAST), who failed to reach the 20-win plateau with their fourth loss in six games.
Redshirt-senior Brittany Mallory had 13 points, and classmate Devereaux Peters added 10 points and nine rebounds for Notre Dame, which shot 61.9 percent in the second half to pull away.
The Irish struggled from the field in the first half before using a 12-4 run early in the second to take their first double-digit lead when Peters had a layup and made two free throws on the next possession to put Notre Dame ahead 44-33.
After Louisville cut it to 46-39 on a layup by Shawnta Dyer off a pass from Shoni Schimmel with 8:55 left, Mallory answered with a 3-pointer in the left corner following a timeout. She pumped her fist and clapped twice on a play that thwarted a potential run and silenced the Louisville crowd.
It turned out to be a big one. The Cardinals missed 14 of their 16 3-point attempts as Notre Dame surged ahead.
Diggins hit 11-of-12 free throws, and Notre Dame finished 17-of-18 overall from the line.
Senior guard Fraderica Miller, who fainted after Notre Dame’s win against Providence on Tuesday night and spent the night in the hospital, went scoreless in six minutes.
There are five league games on the schedule Tuesday, including a nationally televised doubleheader on the CBS Sports Network.
Tue. 21 CONNECTICUT at PITTSBURGH 7:00 p.m. CPTV/ Comcast Pittsburgh
MARQUETTE at CINCINNATI 7:00 p.m.
WEST VIRGINIA at ST. JOHN’S 7:00 p.m. CBS SN
SETON HALL at RUTGERS 7:30 p.m.
SYRACUSE at DE PAUL 9:00 p.m. CBS SN
All times are Eastern
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.