UPDATE: Notre Dame women's basketball: No. 2 ND slams Tennessee
No. 7 Vols held to record-low point total
team walk off its home court with a victory against eight-time
national champion Tennessee in eight previous meetings in South Bend.
And when it happened Monday night, it was an Irish moment to remember.
No. 2 Notre Dame held the Volunteers to the lowest point total in
their storied history, crushing No. 7 Tennessee, 72-44. The previous
low by the Volunteers in the modern era came in a 69-46 loss to
Louisiana Tech on March 26, 1982.
"That's a pretty amazing accomplishment against a team of that
caliber," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. "I think we really dug
in defensively and helped each other. That just says a lot about the
pride that we take in our defense."
Notre Dame's 28-point thumping of the Volunteers, the all-time NCAA
wins leader (1,178), was the second-worst defeat in program history.
Texas whacked Tennessee by 31 points on Dec. 11, 1984.
"To be No. 2 with the worst loss in Tennessee history ... that's very
disappointing," Tennessee sophomore Meighan Simmons said.
South Bend's Skylar Diggins scored 27 points and Kayla McBride 17 for the Irish.
Notre Dame post Devereaux Peters turned in a spectacular game, with 16
points and 16 rebounds. Peters also had six assists, three blocks and
"(Peters) had just an amazing game," McGraw said. "She had a
career-high 16 rebounds. Skylar was unbelievable, shooting 68 percent in the second half. That was amazing. We got it going in
transition, and did a great job defensively. I think we played well."
"(Tennessee is) a great team. Shekinna Stricklen (was) hampered by her
injury. Taber Spani tried to play after missing eight games. I think
they were banged up a little bit coming in, but I think the crowd
really, really rattled them a little bit. I thought that we were
really able to keep our composure defensively, and that was the key."
Simmons led Tennessee with 13 points.
Notre Dame (20-1) resumes Big East play on Saturday at St. John's. The
Irish will be looking to extend their winning streak to 18 games.
Tennessee (14-5), which leads the series against Notre Dame, 20-2, has
now suffered back-to-back losses to the Irish. Notre Dame beat
Tennessee, 73-59, last March to reach the Final Four.
The Irish are only the second team to beat both Connecticut and
Tennessee (two teams with a combined 15 national crowns) in
consecutive seasons. North Carolina beat Tennessee and UConn in the
2005-06 and the 2006-07 seasons.
Purcell Pavilion was a sea of green with a sellout of 9,149 fans, the
fifth sellout this season. The Vols trailed, 56-40, when the Irish
went on a stunning 14-0 run to build a 30-point lead.
"We knew it was going to be a great night when we walked out and saw
the sea of green," McGraw said. "It was an awesome sight. I think that
really fired the team up and got us so engaged. The fans really did a
great job. We struggled a bit at times, and they came in with their
applause to get us going, so I really want to thank the crowd for
helping us in this victory."
Diggins hit only one of her first five shots, but then hit nine of her
next 12 shots, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. The Irish point
guard finished with five assists, five rebounds and four steals.
Notre Dame forged a 10-point lead at halftime, 28-18, holding
Tennessee to a season-low for points in a half and a season low
shooting percentage for a half at 20 percent (7-of-35).
Notre Dame struck the Vols with an 11-3 run to open the second half
and open up an 18-point lead at 39-21. The Irish built a 21-point lead
when Diggins nailed a shot from the corner for a 47-26 lead. Tennessee
edged back, closing to 49-35 with 9:52 left in the game, but the Irish
slammed the door.
"Coach told us at halftime, 'We're getting our shots. We usually make
those. Don't be discouraged. Keep attacking.'" Diggins said. "In the
second half, we were more in the attack mode. We got some inside
touches and things like that. That's how we were getting our 3's, and
we got layups. We just kept on the attack mode."
Stricklen, who did not play in the Volunteers' last game on Thursday
against LSU, started and was held to 2-of-10 shooting. Tennessee's
second leading scorer (15.5 points), suffered a knee injury in the
Vols' Jan. 15 game against Vanderbilt.
Tennessee's legendary coach, Pat Summitt, was on the bench, but has
allowed Warlick to take over many of the head coaching duties after
Summitt was diagnosed with the early onset of dementia.
"We're not throwing in the towel, but our back's against the wall, and
you better step up," Warlick said. "Do we have any quit in us?
Absolutely not. But, we've got to step up and we've got to make
changes. We've still got a big season ahead of us, a long season, the
SEC part of our schedule, but we have to go down swinging, and we
didn't go down swinging tonight."
TENNESSEE (44): Alicia Manning 0-3 0-0 0, Glory Johnson 3-12 3-10 9,
Ariel Massengale 1-3 0-1 3, Meighan Simmons 5-15 2-3 13, Shekinna
Stricklen 2-10 0-0 5, Briana Bass 0-0 0-0 0, Kamiko Williams 0-1 0-0
0, Cierra Burdick 2-6 0-0 4, Taber Spani 0-2 0-0 0, Isabelle Harrison
0-0 2-2 2, Vicki Baugh 4-9 0-0 8. Totals 17-61 7-16 44.
NOTRE DAME (72): Devereaux Peters 8-13 0-0 16, Skylar Diggins 10-17
2-3 27, Natalie Novosel 2-8 0-1 4, Brittany Mallory 0-4 1-2 1, Kayla
McBride 7-12 3-3 17, Whitney Holloway 0-0 0-0 0, Natalie Achonwa 3-4
1-2 7, Fraderica Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Kaila Turner 0-0 0-0 0, Markisha
Wright 0-0 0-0 0, Ariel Braker 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 30-59 7-11 72.
Halftime -- Notre Dame 28-18. 3-Point Goals -- Tennessee 3-8 (Massengale
1-2, Stricklen 1-3, Simmons 1-3), Notre Dame 5-12 (Diggins 5-7,
Novosel 0-2, Mallory 0-3). Fouled Out -- None. Rebounds -- Tennessee 35
(Johnson 9), Notre Dame 44 (Peters 16). Assists -- Tennessee 12
(Massengale 4), Notre Dame 25 (Peters 6). Total Fouls -- Tennessee 16,
Notre Dame 16. A -- 9,149.
Staff writer Curt Rallo: