Fighting Irish send a message to UConn

Posted: March 29, 2012

 With a Final Four berth at stake and an encounter with rival Connecticut for a shot at a national title, Notre Dame could have shown up for Tuesday's Raleigh Regional final in North Carolina against Maryland tense and vulnerable.

Instead, the Fighting Irish smiled and laughed in warm-ups and went out and routed the Terrapins, 80-49.

Point guard Skylar Diggins, a first-team all-American, had a triple-double (22 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds), and Natalie Achonwa added 17 points for the Fighting Irish. Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas, also named to the first team, had 18 for the Terps.

So much for pressure. Notre Dame (34-3) is on the cusp of redemption after losing to Texas A&M in last year's championship game. The win set up a fourth meeting this season with UConn.

Wooden Award

Elena Delle Donne of Delaware, Brittney Griner of Baylor, Nnemkadi Ogwumike of Stanford, Skylar Diggins of Notre Dame, and Julie Wojta of Wisconsin are the finalists for the John R. Wooden Award given to the top women's college basketball player.

Griner and Ogwumike were finalists last year, when Maya Moore of Connecticut won for the second time. All five women were named to the women's Wooden All-American team on Wednesday.

Griner, Ogwumike, and Diggins have led their teams to the women's Final Four in Denver. Griner's team is ranked No. 1 and at 38-0 is two wins away from completing a perfect season.

The women's Wooden winner will be announced on April 6 in a ceremony at the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

WNCAA in Trenton

The 2013 NCAA women's basketball tournament will hold one of its four regional sites at the Sun National Bank Center in Trenton.

Exact dates were not announced, nor were locations of the first- and second- round sites that feed the local regional. Other regional sites are the Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, Va.; Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City; and Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash.

- Inquirer wire services

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