The NCAA Women’s Final Four is taking place this weekend at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis with four of the best teams in the country. The South Carolina Gamecocks, the # 1 ranked team in the tournament, saw it on the court as they beat the Louisville Cardinals 72-59 in the first match of the 2 semifinals.The other was good as the # 2 ranked Yukon Huskies, led by Hopkins native Paige Bookers, upset # 1 seed and defending champion Stanford Cardinal 63-58 to advance to their 12th NCAA Championship game.
South Carolina came out on top from the start as they used a cool shooting performance in addition to some superb shooting and rebounding early from Louisville to jump to the 11-2 lead. Louisville will start a slow comeback and reduce Gamecock’s lead to seven-17-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Lewiswin finds it as good as anywhere else around the game in a second. After a quick bucket by South Carolina, Lewisville took a six-point lead from Emily Angstler on a 22-19 lead to take a 12-0 lead. That was because the Cardinals could have doubled their 1:43 lead in the half by scoring 9-0 to regain an 8-point lead after Gamecox. All Carolina quarterback news will be received and a 34-28 lead in the half.
The third quarter is where Gamecox is pulled away. Alia Bost took control of the USC to help Gamecock lengthen to 15 points before Lewisville reduced it to six points at the end of the quarter. But Boston would not be denied and scored in the bucket and added a foul with 4 seconds left to bring the lead to nine and give his fourth foul to Louisville’s Angstler.
The fourth quarter was back-and-forth until Angler was fouled out for 4:56 to play the game. The Cardinals had no constant threat after that and South Carolina comfortably won by 13 points 72-59. Bost was named NCAA Player of the Year earlier this week for scoring 23 points in almost 20-20 games and recording 18 rebounds. Gamecock’s opening five were 12 points ahead with Braya Bill in double figures.
Angstler headed to Louisville with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Olivia Kochran and Kiana Smith added 14 runs to the loss. Haley van Keith who has so far scored 20 or more points in all Cardinals NCAA games ended up with 9 points in just 4-11 shooting.
South Carolina will play for their second NCAA Championship in school history after winning in 2017.
Starting in the second semifinal between Yukon and Stanford was a slow defensive thing. The Huskies had just a 4-2 lead over the Cardinals in the media timeout in the middle of the quarter. Teams will slowly shoot better in the quarter, but it was still pale as Husky shot only 33% and Stanford 25% in the quarter. Neither team scored three points in the opening stenza, but the Huskies were 12-9 ten minutes after the start, four points behind Page Bookers and Easy Food.
The third quarter was the same as before. Both teams could not buy a single bucket for the first 5 minutes and then the game reopened hati. Stanford scored 20 points in the paint in the first half but Husky successfully kept him out of the paint for his first 12 shots in the third quarter.In the end Brink lapped up and got the Cardinal back in momentum advantage hato. But the Huskies came back. They scored 5 points in a row, including three big three by Christine Williams and a 39-37 lead three times after the last one lap by Brink the Huskies.
The final 10 minutes will be stressful. UConn went up 5 after a 3 point game in just 1 minute from 42-37 by Olivia Nelson-Ododa. After the baskets were exchanged, Brink was called for an illegal screen on the bookers, then again for a defensive foul on the block she was given four fouls to play with at 7:35. Nelson-Ododa both gave free throws to give the Yukon their biggest lead of 47-39.The main defense was intense pushing multiple husky turnovers, including three, by the bookers at 1:35. But they could not buy the basket at the other end. The bookers retaliated with steals and layups and once again put the Huskies above 8 to play with 5:39. She seemed to be sitting on the front whistle and favoring her surgically repaired leg, which cost her most of the season.
Hannah Jump pull-up again at 5:35 left in the fourth to take the lead again and the Bookers returned to the game. She was definitely not 100% and after the collision karya on the jump ball call it took a while to get up and get ready for action.