Following the conclusion of the Elite Eight round, there are now just four teams remaining in the 2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament. GiveMeSport Women looks at four talking points from the matches.
UConn reach Final Four for 13th successive time
UConn battled it out against current champions Baylor to win a spot in the final four. In a close contest between the two giants, UConn defeated the reigning champions 69-67.
The first freshman to be AP women's basketball player of the year, Paige Bueckers, had a phenomenal game against the Lady Bears. She scored 28 points and three rebounds. After being labeled as "uncoachable" by her coach Geno Auriemma last year, Christyn Williams has turned her game around. The 5ft 11 guard added 21 points and 7 rebounds for her team.
The game did not come without its controversies, however. At the end of Baylor’s loss to UConn, DiJonai Carrington thought she was fouled, but the officials did not agree. The guard played a vital role off the bench with 22 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals and made several defensive stops to prevent UConn from getting into a rhythm.
The no-call was at the most pivotal point in the game and would have decided who got through to the next round. Carrington spun and rose for a shot with four seconds left after being approached at the baseline by UConn's Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa. She was denied in what looked like a very blatant foul.
Many stars took to social media to show their opinion on the controversial decision. Among them was NBA giant, Lebron James, who tweeted: “Cmon man!!! That was a FOUL!!”. The Huskies manager responded: “I probably doubt that in his career he’s ever won a game and decided to give it back because he looked at it and went, ‘That was a foul.’”
The physical battle between the two previous NCAA winners was full of drama and Geno Auriemma’s side came out victorious. They will now play Arizona on Saturday for a place in the final.
Arizona Wildcats made history with win over Indiana
Arizona edged past Indiana for a place in the final four. These were two teams that had never previously been beyond the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament. This is now Arizona’s first time in the final four and they will face off against NCAA favourites UConn.
In the low-scoring game, Indiana struggled offensively and missed all nine of their 3-point attempts in the game. On the other hand, Aari McDonalds shined, scoring a game-high of 33 points, 11 rebounds, and four assists.
However, with less than three minutes remaining in the game, she was led off the court to get treatment on her ankle after a fall. She then returned to deliver a layup on a rapid break and numerous free throws without showing any sign of discomfort. Her final free throw was the last action before her teammates and coaches surged on to the court to celebrate the win.
The Wildcats now play NCAA giants UConn in what will be a testing game for Adia Barnes’s side. They will rely on their defensive tactics and star players to create history once again.
Stanford extends 18 game unbeaten streak
Top seed Stanford struggled in the first half of its Elite Eight game against Louisville. Louisville came out firing, scoring 21 points in the first quarter and 17 in the second. Stanford looked a shadow of themselves in the first half, scoring 13 in each period.
The Cardinals, who trailed 38-26 at halftime, dominated the final 16 minutes to win 78-63. Ashten Prechtel came on from the bench to score a season-high 16 points and hit all six of her field-goal attempts, three from beyond the arc.
In 16 minutes of play, Prechtel also had four assists, three rebounds, and two blocked shots. Junior guard Lexie Hull also led Stanford with 21 points and nine rebounds. The Cardinals went on to dominate the final quarter, scoring 30 points compared to Louisville’s 13 points.
Anna Wilson knocked down a three to make it 63-54 to Stanford, which helped shift the momentum in the Cardinals’ favour. This was to the delight of her older brother, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, who cheered on from the sidelines, hitting the chairs in front of him.
After Stanford overcame a 12-point halftime deficit, they will now be seeking their first championship since 1992 as they face number one seed South Carolina.
South Carolina hold Texas pointless in final quarter
For the first time since their national championship in 2017, South Carolina are through to the Final Four. The number one side went up against sixth seed Texas Longhorns.
The lowest-seeded team still in the tournament, the Longhorns were just too weak for the Southeastern team. They managed to only score 34 points to South Carolina’s 62. The Longhorns were the first team to go scoreless in a quarter in the NCAA tournament, since the women’s games switched to a four-quarter format in 2015. This was a testament to South Carolina’s complete dominance in the final 10 minutes.
South Carolina forwards, Aliyah Boston, and Victaria Saxtoneach, recorded at least 10 points and eight rebounds. Sophomore forward Laeticia Amihere finished with 10 points, nine blocks, and eight rebounds, just shy of a triple-double, in only 17 minutes of play.
Despite the lopsided performance, Zia Cooke still believes the Gamecocks are yet to play their best basketball. With five different players scoring in double figures for South Carolina, and 14 blocked shots in a suffocating defensive performance, it is frightening to see the points they will rake up in their best basketball outing.
Dawn Staley, who will be coaching the US women’s basketball team at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, will hope that her team will win their match-up with fellow number one seed Stanford on Friday. They will then be in with a chance of winning the national championship for the first time since 1992.News Now - Sport News