Updated BIG EAST Notes
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Call it a glimpse of the future: Notre Dame women's basketball in the post-Skylar Diggins era. While Coach Muffet McGraw surely will miss her All-American senior point guard next year, she can take solace in the promise shown Sunday by freshman guard Jewell Loyd in a 71-46 win over Rutgers.
Diggins scored 15 points to lead No. 2 Notre Dame, despite playing limited minutes. McGraw benched her with 8:55 left in the first half after Diggins was whistled with a technical foul after jumping up and down in protest of a foul called against her.
''With Skylar on the bench, we were able to maintain and build on our lead, and that's really important for us. I thought Jewell stepped up during that time,'' McGraw said.
Loyd, playing in only her third BIG EAST game, finished with 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, and she was 2-of-2 from 3-point range.
''I thought (Notre Dame's defense) did a great job, but we're just poor, we really are,'' Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer said. ''Diggins, for her to go out like that and we couldn't score. We didn't do very well. We didn't make good decisions.''
The Irish (14-1, 3-0 BIG EAST) won their sixth conference home opener in the past seven seasons, and picked up their ninth consecutive win, coming off a 75-71 overtime victory at USF last Tuesday night.
Erica Wheeler scored 17 points to lead Rutgers (9-7, 0-3 BIG EAST), which is off to an 0-3 start in the BIG EAST since joining the conference in 1995.
The Irish dominated inside, outscoring Rutgers 40-10 in the paint. Irish forwards Natalie Achonwa and Ariel Braker scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, and each pulled down six rebounds.
Monique Oliver, Copper and Chelsey Lee each picked up two fouls within the first six minutes of the game for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights committed 11 fouls in the first half, and the Irish hit all nine free throws in the half.
No league teams are in action Monday. BIG EAST teams return to play on Tuesday.
Material from interviews, school websites, the Associated Press wire service as well as league and team sources was used in this report. All times are Eastern