USC has no answer for Diggins in loss to Irish
FREEPORT, Bahamas—USC coach Michael Cooper saw his share of great players when he coached the Los Angeles Sparks in the WNBA.
He wishes he had a guard at Southern California at the level of Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins.
Diggins scored 22 points and more importantly didn't turn the ball over against the USC in the fourth-ranked Irish's 80-58 victory on Friday in the Junkanoo Jam.
"Skylar Diggins is a great player. She's a great, great point guard. I think that's one of the things that we're missing, a true, solid point guard who can be the coach out on the floor," Cooper said. "She definitely does that. She gets everybody where they're supposed to be. She looks for her own scores after she looks for other people. That's what great point guards are supposed to do."
Ashley Corral scored 17 points to lead USC (3-1), which stayed close with the Irish early on before going into an offensive drought, scoring just one basket for the final 7:34 of the first half.
"You're playing against a top 5 team in the country in Notre Dame," Cooper said. "One of the things we wanted to do was come out and get a good start, and I thought we did that. We were able to stay focused. But when you play these elite teams, you have to stay focused for every possession, every minute of the clock. We were able to fight our way back into it, but we knew it was just a matter of time before Notre Dame would try to assert its will on us. They did that. We played well, but it shows you why they are one of the top teams in the country."
Natalie Novosel added 17 points for the Irish (4-1), who will play No. 7 Duke on Saturday night in the championship game. USC will play Gardner Webb.
The Irish led 42-30 at the break as Diggins had 16 points. Notre Dame cruised in the second half.
"What gets us going is our defense," Novosel said. "If we were able to get some defensive stops that turn into easy transition points, it gets us into a better flow offensively."
The Women of Troy are in the midst of a month-long stretch that will see them play eight of nine games on the road, including six east of the Rocky Mountains. USC began that run last week with losses at Nebraska and No. 10 Georgia.
This was the first meeting between the schools since USC beat Notre Dame 69-58 on Nov. 24, 2006. The Irish have won eight of the 10 all-time meetings.