KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Skylar Diggins scored a career-high 33 points and No. 2/3 Notre Dame built a 19-point lead in the second half before withstanding a late Tennessee rally in a 77-67 victory Monday night at No. 9/9 Tennessee. The game was nationally televised on ESPN2.
Notre Dame (19-1) won its 14th straight game and snapped the Lady Vols' nine-game winning streak. Notre Dame also became the first school ever to defeat both Connecticut and Tennessee in three consecutive seasons. The Irish won 73-72 at Connecticut on Jan. 5.
Tennessee (16-4) held an early 7-2 lead, but the Irish answered with a 12-2 run. Diggins scored 11 points in the first 10 minutes of the game to help the Irish build an eight-point lead.
The Irish led 33-29 at the half.
Diggins took over the game early in the second half.
The senior guard dominated the Lady Vols on both ends of the floor. She had six points, three steals, one block and an assist during an 11-0 run that gave the Irish a 16-point lead.
Diggins started the run by sinking a 3-pointer and making a conventional three-point play. Tennessee called a timeout, but Diggins stole the ensuing inbounds pass, drove to the basket and sank one of two free throws after drawing a foul.
Diggins then made another steal that eventually led to a 3-point basket by Madison Cable. She got one more steal on Tennessee's next possession and passed to Kayla McBride for a jumper that capped the spurt.
After trailing by as many as 19 points, Tennessee rattled the Irish with a furious rally over the final 10 minutes and cut the lead to 69-64 on Taber Spani's free throw with 3:54 remaining.
That's when Diggins took over again.
She found Madison Cable for a layup that got the Irish out of danger. After Spani and Jasmine Jones missed jumpers on Tennessee's next possession, Diggins sank a 3-pointer to make it a 10-point game.
Notre Dame's lead wouldn't drop below eight again.
Jewell Loyd added 10 points for Notre Dame, while Kayla McBride had nine points and 10 rebounds. Bashaara Graves had 19 points and 13 rebounds for Tennessee.
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report.