The second-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish withstood a late push by the ninth-ranked Tennessee Lady Vols and extended their winning streak to 14 games with a 77-67 victory on Jan 28. Notre Dame led by as many as 19 points in the second half.
Down 60-41 with 10:14 remaining in the game, Tennessee outscored Notre Dame 22- 9 over the next 6:07 to cut the deficit to six points. Meighan Simmons, Bashaara Graves and Taber Spani each scored six points for the Lady Vols during the run.
Skylar Diggins, who tallied a career-high 33 points, wouldn’t let Tennessee get any closer as she found Madison Cable for a layup and then iced the game with a three-pointer to put the Fighting Irish up 74-64 with 2:49 to go. Diggins also dished out five assists and came up with four steals.
Jewell Loyd contributed 10 points and grabbed six rebounds (four offensive boards) and Kayla McBride added nine points, 10 rebounds and three steals for Notre Dame.
With the victory, Notre Dame (19-1) has now beat Tennessee (16-4) three straight times and is now 6-1 against ranked this year. The Irish are also the first team ever to defeat Tennessee and Connecticut in three consecutive seasons.
Graves led three Lady Vols in double figures with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Spani had 12 points and Simmons added 11 points.
Other game notes:
- Tennessee won the first 20 meetings against Notre Dame and leads the all-time series 20-3.
- Notre Dame earned their first victory over Tennessee at Thompson-Boling Arena.
- Tennessee is 9-1 in their last 10 games and are now 6-3 against ranked teams this season.
- The Lady Vols honored head coach emeritus Pat Summitt with a banner that marked her achievements prior to the game. Summitt, who stepped down as the Lady Vols’ head coach in April due to early on-set dementia, has a career record of 1,098- 208 in 38 seasons and led Tennessee to eight national championships.
Several former Lady Vols were among the 13,556 fans in attendance for the game, which is the largest crowd at Thompson- Boling Arena this year. Among the former players in attendance were Tamika Catchings, Chamique Holdsclaw, Michelle Marchinak and Candace Parker.
- Tennessee center Isabelle Harrison left the game with five minutes remaining in the first half after aggravating a previous knee injury. Harrison came into the game with a slight meniscus injury in her left knee. She finished the game with six points and five rebounds in 13 minutes of action.
- Diggins has now scored 30 points in a game three times in her career and has topped the 20 point mark five times this year and 38 times during her tenure at Notre Dame. She has 2,053 career points and is 19 points behind Ruth Riley for third place on the school’s all-time scoring list.
- Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw needs just two more victories to 700 career wins (698-257 in 31 seasons). She is 610-216 in 26 years with the Fighting Irish.
- Graves collected a career-best 10 offensive rebounds and posted her team-leading eight double-double of the season.
- Tennessee outrebounded Notre Dame 47-45 including 18-16 on the offensive glass.
- Notre Dame shot 42.6 percent (29-68) from the field including 53.6 percent in the second half (15-28). The Fighting Irish also connected on 7-of-15 shots beyond the arc (46.7 percent) but were only 12-of-21 from the charity stripe. Notre Dame came into the game as the nation’s top free throw shooting team.
- Tennessee shot 33.3 percent (22-66) from the field and from beyond the arc
(4-12). The Lady Vols were 19-of- 22 (86.4 percent) from the free throw line.
- Notre Dame outscored Tennessee 38-28 in points in the paint including 20-8 in the first half.
- The Fighting Irish scored 19 points off of 18 Lady Vols’ turnovers while Tennessee scored 16 points off of 14 Notre Dame turnovers.