South Bend native Skylar Diggins scored 27 points to become Notre Dame's all-time leading scorer in women's basketball as the top-seeded Irish beat Kansas 93-63 in the Sweet 16 Sunday afternoon in Norfolk, Virginia.
"Becoming the leading scorer at Notre Dame, I can't put it into words what it means to me," Diggins explained. "Growing up in South Bend and how much pride I take in playing for Notre Dame and just enjoying this last experience in the NCAA Tournament and soaking it all in. I wouldn't be able to be where I am today if it weren't for Coach McGraw giving me the opportunity."
Diggins scored 22 of her 27 in the first half as she passes current Irish assistant coach Beth Morgan Cunningham at the top of Notre Dame's all-time scoring list. Skylar now has 2,323 career points. Morgan scored 2,322 points from 1993-1997.
"To have Beth and Niele on the bench and so many players that were the face of the program before I got here, it's just great to be able to learn from them everyday," Diggins said.
Coach McGraw almost didn't give her the opportunity on Sunday. McGraw said she forgot Skylar was close to the record and was ready to take Skylar out of the game when she realized Diggins was just two points away.
"I said you are coming out in 30 seconds so you might as well get one more," McGraw said with a smile.
Diggins didn't immediately figure out why McGraw said that.
"Coach told me to score two more and I really didn't know what that meant and I was like, 'OK' and I just took the shot," Diggins explained with a big laugh.
Diggins was outstanding in a game that wasn't a blowout until Skylar decided to make it one. Notre Dame trailed 15-11 to the 12th seeded Jayhawks in the 1st half when Diggins fueled a 12-0 run with nine straight points herself to put the Irish ahead. Notre Dame never gave the lead up.
"My experience in the tournament and big games, helps in these type of games," Diggins said. "Just trying to be a leader and do whatever it takes to help our team win."
Diggins then hit back-to-back 3's before the half as the Irish opened up a 13 point advantage at halftime. Skylar also had nine assists, playing unselfish basketball until pulling up for a jumper to set the all-time record midway through the 2nd half.
"When she starts hitting the 3, you are in trouble. She was pretty much in the zone in the 1st half," Mcgraw said. "I think early on you could tell it was going to be her day."
Notre Dame is now in the Elite 8 for the 3rd straight season and will face either Duke or Nebraska Tuesday night at 7 for a spot in the Final Four.
"To be with my teammates, I'm just so happy to be here and I don't want it to end yet," Diggins said.