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Diggins leads Irish women to Final Four

Wed., March 28, 2012, midnight

RALEIGH, N.C. – The Sky’s the limit for revenge-minded Notre Dame – especially with its star guard playing like this.

Skylar Diggins had a triple-double and Notre Dame earned its second straight Final Four berth by beating Maryland 80-49 on Tuesday night in the Raleigh Regional final.

Diggins did it all for the top-seeded Fighting Irish (34-3).

The Big East player of the year and AP All-America selection finished with 22 points, 11 assists, 10 rebounds – and, for good measure, five steals. She kept Notre Dame’s four-guard lineup humming and causing the second-seeded Terrapins fits all night.

Natalie Achonwa added 18 points for Notre Dame, which built a 46-27 rebounding advantage against low-post-oriented Maryland. A huge run late in the first half essentially ended this one at halftime and propelled the Irish to their fourth Final Four trip and second in a row.

A loss in last year’s national championship game provided a season’s worth of focus and motivation for the Irish, who moved two victories away from the title that eluded them last year. A familiar foe awaits: Connecticut, which beat Notre Dame 63-54 earlier this month in the Big East title game. Notre Dame did beat the Huskies in both meetings in the regular season.

Alyssa Thomas scored 17 points and Tianna Hawkins and Alicia DeVaughn added 10 apiece for Maryland (31-5). After rallying from 18 points to beat Texas A&M two days earlier in the regional semifinal, the Terps finally slipped into a deficit they couldn’t escape.



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