NORFOLK, Va. – All-American Skylar Diggins
smiled, patted her teammates on the back as the starters cleared the court with less than a minute remaining, and told them, "We're going to the Final Four, baby."
Down 37-31 at halftime, Notre Dame
56-40 in the final 20 minutes of Tuesday night's regional final matchup to win 87-76 and advance to their third consecutive Final Four.
Diggins scored a game-high 24 points and added nine assists, five rebounds and five steals on 9-16 shooting from the field and 4-8 from behind the arc.
Diggins missed a seven-minute stretch in the first half after she picked up two fouls in the first five minutes of play. Even when Diggins returned to action with 8:37 left in the first half, Notre Dame continued to struggle on offense, going seven straight minutes without a point as Duke went on a 13-0 run. Tricia Lishon highlighted the Devils' run with three consecutive baskets in the paint as she finished with 13 first-half points.
Notre Dame used a 15-2 run early in the second half sparked by a Diggins three and assist to post player Natalie Achonwa to give the Irish a 50-42 lead, and from there, cruise to the final buzzer.
Notre Dame's Kayla McBride finished with 18 points while Jewell Loyd and Achonwa had 17 each, as Notre Dame finished with four players scoring in double figures.
Diggins told TV after the game - "I want to win a championship for Coach (Muffet) McGraw bad. When you have a coach who believes in you so much I'd do anything for her."
The Irish have now won 30 consecutive games, a school record.
Two No. 1 seeds will square off Sunday at 8:30 p.m. when Notre Dame takes on Connecticut
for a chance to compete in the national championship. Notre Dame has faced Connecticut three times this season, and the Irish have won every contest.
Notre Dame will return to its third consecutive Final Four after coming from behind to beat Duke 87-76 Tuesday night in the regional finals of the NCAA Tournament.
Notre Dame beat Duke 87-76 to advance to their third consecutive Final Four.