Diggins began this NCAA regional semifinal 27 points from surpassing the school's career scoring record, established by assistant coach Beth Cunningham. And if ever a record were meaningful to an athlete.
As charismatic off the court as on, Diggins grew up in South Bend, Ind., home to Notre Dame's campus. She starred at the town's Washington High School, became the national prep player of the year and yearned to play for the Fighting Irish.
In Diggins' four seasons, Notre Dame is 129-19. During that time, the Irish have reached four Sweet 16s and two national championship games.
Long story short: The kid is as Notre Dame as the leprechaun mascot and Victory March.
So McGraw asked a publicist seated at the scorer's table, and the answer was perfect: She needs two points.
"You're coming out in 30 seconds, so you might as well get two more," McGraw told Diggins.
"I really didn't know what that meant," Diggins said. "I was like, 'OK.' "
Seconds later, Diggins scored on a quick burst to the rim, giving her 2,323 points, one more than Cunningham.
"All-time leader," chanted the Notre Dame pep band, far more attuned than McGraw and Diggins to the record chase. "All-time leader."
With that, Diggins' day at Old Dominion's Constant Center was done, a 27-point, nine-assist, one-turnover show that exceeded her norms and leveled Kansas, 93-63.
Though a regional semi, the lopsided margin was not unexpected. The Irish are 34-1, winners of 29 straight and Big East champions. Guided by former Virginia Tech coach Bonnie Henrickson, the Jayhawks (20-14) were among the last teams selected for the tournament, finished seventh in the 10-team Big 12 and have never advanced beyond the Sweet 16.
But the lithe, left-handed Diggins, as capable a passer as shooter, made the game eminently watchable.
"She's what everyone says," said Kansas' Angel Goodrich, who had the misfortune of checking Diggins. "She's the whole package. She creates for herself and she creates for her teammates."
Goodrich matched her career-best with 13 assists and competed with flair, but Diggins was the towering presence. Not a prolific 3-point shooter by any stretch, Diggins even made 4-of-6 from beyond the arc.
"When she starts hitting the three," McGraw said, "you're in trouble."
Diggins, who averages 17.1 points and 5.9 assists, scored 22 points in the first half, nine during a 12-0 Notre Dame binge that turned the game irrevocably. With the result never in doubt after intermission, Diggins attempted only three more shots, instead assisting on seven buckets.
And that's when the Irish were most impressive. They shot 67.7 percent during the second half and had 15 assists on 19 field goals. Forward Natalie Achonwa was the primary beneficiary, scoring 16 of her 17 points after halftime.
Notre Dame's lone flaw was interior defense. Kansas' Carolyn Davis dominated the paint with 25 points, and frontcourt mate Chelsea Gardner added eight as the two combined to make 15-of-23 shots.
The Irish rate as a favorite in Tuesday’s regional final against future ACC rival Duke, but inside defense cost them in their two most recent defeats, both to Baylor, 80-61 in last season’s national championship game and 73-61 in early December. In those two clashes, Baylor’s 6-foot-8 center, Brittney Griner, totaled 50 points, 27 rebounds and eight blocked shots.
Notre Dame won the 2001 national championship and has earned 18 straight NCAA bids, sustained excellence that helped draw Diggins to the program. The trophy is the only void on her resume.
"I don't even think I can put into words what the university means to me," Diggins said, "growing up in South Bend, how much pride I take in playing for Notre Dame and how I'm just enjoying this last experience in the NCAA tournament, soaking it all in. …
"I'm just so happy to be here. I don't want it to end."