SOUTH BEND — With Skylar Diggins in foul trouble and Purdue making a run, Notre Dame kept its cool.
Diggins picked up her second foul midway through the first half and coach Muffet McGraw decided to see how her team would respond instead of rushing her star guard back in the game.
The move worked as the Irish went on a 10-2 run, including consecutive baskets by Kayla McBride that sparked the fifth-ranked team to a 74-47 victory over No. 11 Purdue on Saturday.
“Really, really pleased with the way we never panicked,” said Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw. “That’s huge for us, because it hadn’t happened yet.”
McBride finished with 18 points and Natalie Achonwa added 15 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. Diggins ended with 16 points and also recorded her 300th career steal 5:37 into the second half when she poked the ball away from Courtney Moses and drove in for a layup, which pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 23. Diggins is the third player in Notre Dame history with at least 300 career steals.
Courtney Moses led the Boilermakers (11-2) with 13 points and Taylor Manuel added 12.
Notre Dame (10-1) won its fifth straight game overall, and seventh in a row over Purdue, the longest win streak by either side in the series. The Irish did it by dominating the boards with a 56-28 rebounding advantage. That total included 25 offensive rebounds, which was one less than Purdue’s total.
“That was the only stat I put up on our board,” said Purdue coach Sharon Versyp. “If you box out and finish, the game would have been totally different.”
Purdue was one of the country’s best 3-point shooting teams coming into the game, but went 0-for-11 from behind the arc. It was the first time since March 1, 2009 at Michigan State that Purdue failed to hit a 3-point field goal.
“We really guarded them on the 3-point line, which was our main goal of the day,” McGraw said. “They’re shooting it well from there, and we held them scoreless. That was a phenomenal accomplishment for us.”
Purdue opened the game hitting just 2-of-12 from the field as the Irish used runs of 8-0 and 11-0 to open up an early 17-point lead. But the Boilermakers crept back into it with a 7-0 run, then Diggins went to the bench with two fouls, and the Irish offense stagnated.
Drey Mingo’s fast-break layup off a behind-the-back pass from Courtney Moses cut Notre Dame’s lead to 25-20 with 6:38 left before the half, but Purdue’s streaky shooting went off again, and the Boilers didn’t score a field goal the final 4:43 of the half.
An early 9-0 run in the second half pushed the Notre Dame lead to 23. As the advantage ballooned toward 30, Notre Dame’s starters rested on the bench for much of the second half.
Achonwa recorded her seventh double-double of the season, and nine of her 17 rebounds were on the offensive glass, several of them rebounds of her own missed shots.
“I think I cheated a little bit,” Achonwa joked. “I was getting my own rebounds ... It was just attacking and being aggressive.”
Fans waved signs before the game honoring McGraw’s 600th win at Notre Dame, which came in the Dec. 21 win over Texas A&M.