NCAAW tournament: Fierce Final Four match-ups

Final Four roundupBY FARM SAETEURN

Eight teams, four games, infinite brutality. The Elite Eight teams each battled aggressively to earn a spot in the Final Four in contests marked by tenacious defense and ferocious offense.

The game between Odyssey Sims’ No. 2 seeded Baylor and No. 1 seed Notre Dame went to the favored Irish, but not without a fight from the Lady Bears. Sims scored a game-high 33 points, but could not take down undefeated Notre Dame even with one of their star players and team leaders, Natalie Achonwa, out with a torn ACL in the second half. With the help of Sophomore Jewell Loyd, who played a sensational game and scored a team-high of 30 points, the fighting Irish were able to put away the tough Baylor team to advance to the Final Four for the fourth time in four years.

No. 3 seed Texas A&M came out blazing as they took the lead against  the No. 1 seeded UConn Huskies at the start of the first half. That fire didn’t last long as the UConn ladies stepped up their defense and Kaleena Mosqueeda-Lewis began making her presence known on the offensive end of the floor, finishing the game with 17 points. The Aggies had a brief rally in the second half to cut the deficit to three, but the Huskies redoubled their defense with a surprising showing from center Stefanie Dolson who had eight blocks in the paint. Undefeated UConn eliminated Texas A&M, 69-54.

The No. 4 seed Maryland vs. No. 3 seed Louisville regional final match-up was combative until the end. Ultimately the game  was decided by a missed three-pointer by senior guard Shonni Schimmel, who’d gone three-from-three beyond the arc up to that point. The Terrapins’ Alyssa Thomas had an outstanding game finishing with 22 points and 13 rebounds, propelling Maryland to its fourth Final Four in school history.

The Maples Pavilion was packed with fans of both No. 3 seed North Carolina Tarheels and No. 2 seed Stanford Cardinals Tuesday night as the teams battled for a spot in the Final Four. The Cardinals struggled a little early as the Tarheels jumped out to a 10-point lead. Stanford closed the gap to six before the half. After the break, the Cardinals looked like a different team, executing well, playing a patient offense and looking for their star player, Chiney Ogwumike, inside. Ogwumike was held to just four points in the first half, but came to life in the second, scoring 16 points and grabbing key rebounds to help Stanford finish on top 74-65.

Nashville, Music City U.S.A., is set to play host as this year’s top four NCAA Women’s Basketball teams two-step into the home of country music. Action continues Sunday, April 6, as Stanford faces the defending champion UConn Huskies and Maryland goes head-to-head against a weakened Notre Dame, who will be without their leader Achonwa. The winners of each contest play Tuesday, April 8, for the national championship.

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