|Notre Dame's Devereaux Peters (14) shoots between St. John's Tesia Harris (34) and Da'Shena Stevens (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, in the Queens Borough of New York. (AP Photo/Kathy Kmonicek)|
Diggins leads No. 2 Irish women over St. John's
NEW YORK—Skylar Diggins scored 24 points to help No. 2 Notre Dame beat St. John's 71-56 on Saturday for the Fighting Irish's 18th straight victory.
Devereaux Peters added 18 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and four steals for Notre Dame (21-1, 8-0 Big East), which was coming off a 28-point blowout of No. 7 Tennessee on Monday night.
Trailing 6-1 early on, Notre Dame went on a 19-2 run to take an early 12-point lead. Diggins had the final eight points of the run, including a pretty floater down the lane that made it 20-8 with 11:16 left in the half.
St. John's scored the next eight points, including two 3-pointers by Tesia Harris, to cut it to a four-point game. That's as close as the Red Storm (13-8, 5-3) would get as Notre Dame put it away with a 14-0 spurt.
Notre Dame dominated the glass, outrebounding St. John's 49-29 -- including a whopping 26-8 advantage in the first half.
Diggins has been the catalyst for the Irish all season. During the decisive run she had four points and two assists on beautiful lookaway passes to Natalie Achonwa. Later in the first half, with her team up 18 points, the junior guard blocked a shot on one end, ran the floor and caught a long outlet from Peters for a lay-in.
Even when she made a rare mistake, she quickly made up for it. On one sequence, the preseason All-American turned the ball over, but hustled back and blocked a shot on the other end. She moved into 11th place on the school's all-time scoring list, passing assistant coach and mentor Niele Ivey.
The Irish will be back in the Tri-State area Tuesday night when they play No. 11 Rutgers. Notre Dame will fly back to South Bend and return Monday because of classes.
Notre Dame has won 21 of the 24 games between the teams although the Red Storm had won the previous three at home, including upsetting the then-No. 4 Irish in 2010.
Despite Saturday's performance, St. John's has been playing well over the last month. The Red Storm had won six of their previous seven games since getting everyone healthy, including victories over then-No. 7 Rutgers and then-No. 14 Louisville.
Trailing 43-23 at the half, the Red Storm tried to battle back. They started the second half with a 13-4 run to cut the deficit to 11, but Diggins calmly restored order for the Irish -- who scored eight of the next 10 points to seal the win.
Da'Shena Stevens and Shenneika Smith each scored 10 points to lead St. John's.