Notre Dame comes up short in championship game
Irish fail to respond to monster game by Adams
INDIANAPOLIS — Skylar Diggins turned the NCAA tournament into a bit of a coming out party.
She'll get another chance next year for the coronation she really wants.
Notre Dame's dynamic sophomore guard scored 23 points against Texas A&M, but committed six turnovers against the stifling Aggies, including one that sealed A&M's 76-70 victory in Tuesday night's national championship game.
The budding star who led her prep team to four Indiana state championship games, won Indiana's Miss Basketball award two years ago and made the all-tournament team eventually succumbed to A&M's quickness.
"We didn't handle their pressure," she said, fighting back tears. "We turned it over too much. I don't know if it was nerves or what. We just didn't handle the pressure."
In the closing minute, Diggins lost the ball after getting double-teamed near the free-throw line, missed a jumper that would have kept it a one possession game and wasted too much time looking for an open teammate.
Diggins didn't just struggle late, either.
Whether it was nervousness or carelessness, she was one of the primary reasons Notre Dame committed seven turnovers in the first 6 1/2 minutes of the game, when the Fighting Irish fell behind 18-6. She struggled again, too, midway through the second half when Notre Dame blew a seven-point lead.
"We really dug ourselves a hole early," coach Muffet McGraw said. "We were very nervous. I thought we were a little flustered offensively and completely out of synch."
That has been a common thread throughout the postseason for Texas A&M, which limited each of its first four opponents under 50 points held opponents to 30.9 percent shooting from the field.
In Indianapolis, the Aggies had to adjust the story line.
Stanford scored 62 points on Sunday but still lost when A&M scored on a layup with 3.3 seconds left and then stole the inbound pass.
On Tuesday, the Irish cracked the 50-point barrier, thanks in large part to Diggins and Devereaux Peters, but it was the mistakes that proved the difference.
"Skylar Diggins, she's as good as it comes, and she was terrific in the first half," A&M coach Gary Blair said to the crowd. "But in the second half, Danielle Adams stepped up."
And Diggins, who got the Irish to their first title game since 2001 by scoring 28 points in an upset of Connecticut on Sunday, just ran into too much trouble.