No. 5 Notre Dame thumps Wildcats

By The Mercury

LAS VEGAS — Skylar Diggins got Notre Dame off to a fast start, causing quite a few problems for the Kansas State womnen’s basketball team in the process.

Diggins scored 17 of her 22 points in the first half to lead No. 5 Notre Dame to an 87-57 victory over the Wildcats on Thursday night in the World Vision Classic at the Cox Pavilion.

Diggins scored 15 of the Fighting Irish’s first 23 points, leading them to a 23-10 lead 8:20 into the game.

“She is a very, very tough player to defend,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said of Diggins. “As a young and inexperienced team, it’s a great challenge. Once she gets in rhythm and measures you as a defender, it becomes a little bit of a cat and mouse game. And you can be in the position of being the mouse in a hurry. She is one competitive kid.”

K-State has now lost three straight after opening the season with seven consecutive wins.

The Wildcats (7-3) had three players reach double figures for the second straight game — led by senior All-America candidate Brittany Chambers with 18 points and seven rebounds.

Chambers —  from Jordan, Minn. — moved into eighth on the K-State career scoring list with 1,559 points, passing Tammie Romstad (1978-82; 1,548).

Joining Chambers in double figures were sophomores Haley Texada and Ashia Woods. Texada tallied 11 points off the bench, while Woods carded 10 points and five rebounds.

For the 10th straight game this season, K-State reached double figures in steals with 12. 

Notre Dame (8-1) saw five players reach double figures. Natalie Achonwa added 13 points, Kayla McBride had 12, and Kaila Turner and Ariel Braker chipped in 11 apiece for Notre Dame (8-1), which led 49-25 at halftime.

“We wanted to come out and have a good start from the beginning,” Diggins said. “We played similar teams to Kansas State like Central Michigan and Utah State and had trouble containing the ball and the (defensive) rotation. We’re a young team and we have our struggles, but we’ve been improving at that.”

Notre Dame forced the Wildcats into seven turnovers in the first six minutes, scoring 11 points off those K-State errors —  including eight in transition to take a 17-5 lead.

The Fighting Irish would build their lead to 21 at 41-19 with 4:12 remaining the in half. Consecutive 3-pointers from Haley Texada and Kendra Spresser narrowed the deficit to 16 at 41-25 with 2:17 to play.

Notre Dame was able to rebuild its lead back to 24 at 49-25 before halftime with a 7-0 run capped by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Kaila Turner.

K-State was able to bring the contest to within 21 points following a Chantay Caron three-point play with 11:54 remaining in the second half, but Notre Dame proved to be too strong and pushed its lead to as many as 31 with less than four minutes to play.

K-State will conclude action at the World Vision Classic tonight when the Wildcats face UNLV at 5 (CST) in a rematch of last season’s final of the BTI Invitational in which UNLV defeated the Wildcats, 44-38.

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