Minneapolis: As we know, during any NCAA season, there are going to be bumps on the road to making the NCAA Final Four, and the 4 best teams in Women’s College Basketball that booked their trip to the Target Center are South Carolina, Louisville, Stanford, and Uconn.
The first NCAA Semifinal features South Carolina Gamecocks taking on the Louisville Cardinals. South Carolina is, of course, coached by Philadelphia native Dawn Staley.
South Carolina would jump on the Cardinals early, and then the Cards made a late run to be down 17-10 at the end of the first quarter. The Cardinals took time to figure out what was not working, then they would go on a 12-0 Run to take the lead for the 1st time in the game at 20-19.
South Carolina took a 34-28 lead into halftime. Brea Beal and Aliyah Boston led South Carolina with 8 points, while Emily Engstler with 10 for the Cardinals.
Gamecocks started the 3rd quarter making their shots and got the lead up to 12 at 42-30. The Cardinals would slowly attempt to get back into the game, but the Gamecocks had an answer every time they would, and the lead grew to 15 at 51-36. Aliyah Boston is, the AP Player of the year, was having her way with the Cardinals defense and got Louisville Emily Engstler in foul trouble. The Gamecocks took a 9 point lead at the end of 3rd, 57-48.
South Carolina made things more difficult for the Cardinals to respond, and the Gamecocks would book their trip to the NCAA Championship game with a 72-59 win. Aliyah Boston put on a show with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
NCAA Final Four Postgame
Dawn Staley was asked about their team’s defense:
We’re a team that we really don’t turn you over. We just stay connected. We’re linked up. They do a great job of communicating. We just like to be disruptive, take the first option away, the second option away and then have you played with a short shot clock. And then that is — not a whole lot of teams are super-efficient in low shot clock situations, so we try to put them in that, and then we rebound the basketball.— Dawn Staley
Louisville Coach Jeff Walz about their performance in the NCAA Final Four against South Carolina:
“I’ve said it all year, if we’re going to lose a game, I want it to be because we just missed shots. I really thought we had some great looks and just some that went in and out for us at crunch time to cut the lead to four, to two. It’s part of it, but I’ve never been prouder of a group.
They’ve absolutely been a joy to coach. I told them in the locker room, you don’t ever want to say that’s your favorite team, because then all your past teams get mad at you, but I’d put this group right up there at the top. You start back in the spring and the summer, all the way through April the 1st, and it was just an absolute joy to coach them, to watch them grow as people, watch them grow as individuals, and then to watch us grow as a team.
There’s not one second that I regret about it, a damn thing that we did, and I am so proud of these three that are sitting here, and we’re going to cherish the moments that we shared together, the games that we played.”— Louisville Coach Jeff Walz