Diggins paces ND to 86-76 win over PittsburghFeb 6, 2010 - 10:16 PM By TOM COYNE AP Sports Writer
SOUTH BEND, Ind.(AP) -- Skylar Diggins answered Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw's challenge to be a better rebounder.
Diggins grabbed 10 rebounds to go with her 23 points, both season highs, to lead the third-ranked Fighting Irish to an 86-76 victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday.
"The rebounding is something we've been working on," McGraw said. "She just did an outstanding job of trying to go get the rebound. That was the last piece that was missing."
Pitt coach Agnus Berenato said the Panthers struggled to defend Diggins.
"She had a hot hand and Notre Dame did a great job of feeding the hot hand," she said.
Diggins, a freshman, said she is feeling more comfortable in Notre Dame's offense.
"I'm just playing. That's what I'm doing better. I'm not playing not to make a mistake," Diggins said. "I'm just being competitive and let the game come to me."
Diggins, who also had six assists and two blocked shots with no turnovers, said she went into the game focusing on rebounding.
"I wanted to see how many I could get," she said.
Diggins, whose previous high for rebounds was six against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, said she watched tape of recent games and found she was standing around too much.
"I was getting in there, I just wasn't being aggressive to the ball," she said.
Diggins was 9-of-11 from the free-throw line and the Fighting Irish (21-1, 8-1 Big East) were 21-of-29. Pittsburgh (12-10, 1-8) was 9-of-15 and coach Agnus Berenato was complaining throughout the game about the lopsided calls. She declined to comment about it afterward.
"It doesn't do any good to comment on that," she said. "I'm not getting suspended for having a comment in the paper."
McGraw attributed the lopsided calls to the Irish being aggressive offensively and not aggressive on defense.
"I was disappointed in our defense, 76 points is unforgivable," she said.
The Irish outscored the bigger Panthers 46-34 in the paint and had a 38-32 rebounding advantage. Lindsay Schrader added 18 points for Notre Dame and Becca Bruszewski had 10.
Taneisha Harrison led the Panthers with 20 points. Jania Sims had 13 and Chelsea Cole and Selena Nwude had 12 points each.
"We have to have at least four players in double figures," Berenato said.
After the Irish went on a 14-2 run in the first half to open a 13-point lead, the Panthers gradually cut the deficit to four late in the first half. But the Irish led 45-37 at halftime, then used a 10-2 run early in the second half take a 48-45 lead.
Notre Dame extended the lead to 81-62 when Ashley Barlow hit a 3 as the shot clock sounded with 5:13 left. Pitt used a 14-3 run to cut the lead to 84-76 on a jumper by Sims, but couldn't get any closer.
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