SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw wasn’t about to give Skylar Diggins too much praise.
Diggins scored 21 points, all in the first half when she was 9-of-9 shooting, to lead the Fighting Irish to an 89-44 victory over Providence on Saturday, becoming the fourth Irish player to ever score 2,000 career points. McGraw was asked where she would place Diggins among Notre Dame’s all-time greats.
‘‘Well, right now she’s fourth,’’ McGraw said, smiling.
Diggins, who is averaging 15.5 points a game, has a shot at becoming Notre Dame’s all-time leading scorer. Irish assistant coach Beth Morgan holds the mark at 2,322 points, set from 1993-97.
‘‘It will be great if Sky breaks the record. I think Beth will be the biggest cheerleader for her to do that,’’ McGraw said.
It didn’t take Diggins long to get started Saturday. She took a pass from Kayla McBride on the opening tip-off to score an easy layup 4 seconds in, to pass the milestone. Diggins said she wanted to get it over with quickly, and the sellout crowd erupted.
‘‘The roar that came when I made that basket is something I won’t forget,’’ Diggins said. ‘‘It’s special because I'm from here.’’
Diggins then quickly got started on moving to her next milestone, hitting from inside, mid-range and behind the 3-point line as Providence (6-13, 1-5 Big East) could do nothing to slow her. The only mistake Diggins made in the first half was to miss a free throw as the Irish (18-1, 7-0) jumped to a 46-15 lead.
‘‘She took over the game,’’ McGraw said.
Diggins had a 10-0 run on her own, starting with a free throw to give the Irish an 11-4 lead. She then scored on a pair of layups 12 seconds apart, then added another layup and a 3-pointer as Notre Dame opened a 20-4 lead.
‘‘I was just looking for my opportunities and taking what they gave me,’’ Diggins said. ‘‘I was getting good passes, too. We were getting steals and we were getting out in transition.’’
Tori Rule led the Friars with 12 points, all in the second half. Symone Roberts, Providence’s leading scorer at 15.3 points a game, was 1-of-8 shooting for two points.
‘‘I was thrilled with the way we guarded her. I think everybody had a chance to guard her. Sky guarded her for the most part in the first,’’ McGraw said.
Providence coach Susan Robinson Fruchtl said the Irish are just always ready no matter who they face.
‘‘That’s what I try to get our players to understand: you have to bring it every day. This league is too difficult not to do that,’’ she said.
Even with Notre Dame reserves playing much of the second half the Irish continued to pull away. Natalie Achonwa had 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Irish and Jewell Loyd added 10.
The Irish outshot the Friars 51 percent to 31 percent, scoring 56 points in the paint. Notre Dame also had a 51-26 rebounding advantage.
Diggins didn’t miss a shot until 5 minutes into the second half, when the Irish led 54-19. The Friars didn’t have more points than Diggins until Lexi Sells hit a 3-pointer with 12:00 left to cut Notre Dame’s lead to 62-24, and by then Diggins was watching from the bench.
Notre Dame’s 13-game winning streak is the sixth longest in school history. The longest Irish win streak is 23 games set during the 2000-01 season, when the Irish won the national championship.