No. 6 Texas put the brakes on No. 2 Maryland’s high scoring offensive in an instant classic to close Sweet 16 Action in the 2021 NCAA Women’s Tournament.
The Terrapins drove the motto “all gas, no brakes” through a season in which they averaged 91.2 points per game. They won big on the way to a # 2 seed and hadn’t played a close competition since January. All gas.
The Longhorns are the opposite in their first season under head coach Vic Schaefer. They pull the brakes hard and often, instead making just a few more baskets than their opponent. Texas is in the top quarter of Division I teams on the rebound and, most importantly against Maryland, on the 3-point shot. They also know how to slow down the game and keep opponents from having a large number of possessions.
Texas overturned Maryland, 64-61, in perhaps the biggest surprise of the tournament, even after No. 4 Indiana beat No. 1 NC State. This Maryland roster looked even more dangerous at the start of the tournament, and the Longhorns keeping it close seemed unlikely to most.
The Longhorns defense frustrated the Terrapins far too late and secured four defense rebounds in the last minute. Lauren Ebo’s theft just under the minute that kicked off Kyra Lambert was the difference Maryland could not return from.
“Every single one of us, one to five, got some stops and we got the job done tonight,” said Charlie Collier, who is likely number 1 on the draft, ESPN’s Holly Rowe.
An elite eight game with South Carolina No. 1 and another showdown between Schaefer and Dawn Staley will start. Schaefer has spent the past eight seasons in the state of Mississippi, a standing SEC contender alongside Staley’s Gamecocks. Collier will compete against second and Naismith finalist Aliyah Boston.
The game will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN.
Louisville: Dana Evans back in shape
Dana Evans is back.
The Louisville Senior didn’t have their best tournament. Evans, a two-time All-American ACC Player of the Year and a Naismith Prize finalist, made it to the Cardinals’ Sweet 16 meeting, with Oregon No. 6 scoring just 11 out of 33 field goals. It was even more disappointing from the 3-point range, in which she had not connected more than 28 percent since mid-February.
Regardless of interest, you want top players to do their best in March. For the first two rounds it was difficult to see Evans struggle with shots that usually hit her with ease. Their teammates stepped forward to help them move forward. And against the ducks Evans came back to life.
She reached a career high with 29 points and made three of her eight 3-point attempts. Evans met her from the logo.
And crush it in transition with a little help from Mykasa Robinson.
Louisville has playmakers beyond Evans, but the Cardinals wouldn’t go very far without their top player at her best. The Cardinals advanced between 60 and 42, with severe injuries to Oregon’s stars. Your next opponent is Stanford, the No. 1 overall seed, a quest that will take whatever insults Louisville can muster.
The two will play on ESPN Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET.
Stanford, South Carolina 3-Pointer, Drive Depth
It was an afternoon of “Anything you can do, I can do better” for seed # 1 on the left side of the bracket.
South Carolina doubled in a game with eight opponents to an average of 3 pointers # 5 Missouri State, which was helpful as Aliyah Boston didn’t have their typical production. It was the most efficient field goal game (56.4 percent) for the Gamecocks since the season opening blowout.
“Our offense today weighed us down with our ability to hit layups, stretch the ground, and hit some 3s,” said Dawn Staley, South Carolina coach. “I hope it gets better and better. You have some great programs here that can add a lot of points to the scoreboard. “
No. 1 Whole Seed Stanford The second afternoon game of the day followed with 15 3-hands. It has hit a season high, marking the third tournament game in a row with at least 13 players out of reach. The cardinal was 46.5 percent off the ground.
Sometimes the shots don’t come from outside. The biggest thing each Sunday No. 1 showed was the depth. The Gamecocks reached the tournament behind Boston and the duo of Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson. Cooke was caught behind the arch, but it was Victaria Sexton and Laeticia Amihere who really stood in. Amihere had 15 of the bank’s 21 points.
“The bank is a big part of us,” said Amihere. “It will be very important to go deep into our bank, especially now on the track.”
Stanford’s top scorer was Hannah Jump from the bench. She scored a total of 17 6-on-9, including 5-on-7 from the 3-point range. Ashten Pretchel had 10 rebounds from the bench. There’s no shortage of star power for Stanford and when someone is off-game or in bad trouble there are plenty of fill-ins.
Elite Eight schedule, TV, time
No. 1 UConn (27-1) against No. 2 Baylor (28-2)
Monday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN
UConn vs Iowa was always meant to be a shootout. Now UConn will be the opposite against Baylor.
The Elite Eight Matchup will feature some of the best defensive teams in the nation. Baylor is first in the percentage field goal defense (31.7) and fourth in the opponent points per goal attempt (0.83). UConn is the exchange of this and occupies fourth place in percentage field goal defense (33.3) and first place in points per goal attempt (0.81).
“You see two programs that place emphasis on defense,” said Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey after winning at Sweet 16. “I think Baylor and UConn are in the top 3 in the country for percentage defense of field goals. Then look at the recovery, that might explain why both programs are respected across the country.
“So, yes, it could be an ugly game. If I say ugly, it could be a low score, it could be some sales. Some people want to say boring. It can’t be 80 and 90. I don’t know.”
She added that she wouldn’t surpass UConn’s Geno Auriemma, so the Bears players will have to compete against each other and defeat the Huskies. Auriemma said Sunday he thought the bears should have been number 1 and they were “physically intimidating.”
UConn is on the rise after three big wins, including a team performance against Iowa No. 5 and Caitlin Clark on Saturday. Baylor wipes his forehead after just avoiding upset No. 6 Michigan in an overtime game hours later. This is the game everyone wanted to see in January and hoped it would now take place in March.
It’s only the second time they’ve met in the tournament. The programs’ The first meeting took place in 2010 in the Final Four in the Alamodom. UConn, then led by Maya Moore and Tina Charles, defeated the bears led by Brittney Griner 70:50 and won the title.
No. 3 Arizona (19-5) versus No. 4 Indiana (21-5)
Monday, 9 p.m. ET on ESPN
Neither Arizona nor Indiana have ever made it this far and guarantee a first-time Final Four team. It is the first time since 1997 that two newcomers meet in the Elite Eight. These are two programs with a history-laden male story that has developed into its own in recent years. Indiana won the WNIT in 2018 and Arizona won it in 2019.
The Hoosiers are among the best in Division I on the offensive, averaging 75.3 points per game. 45.7 percent shoot mainly from the 2-point range. The Wildcats are one of the best on the defensive. They allow 55.2 points per game and keep the opponents within the arc at 39.1 percent.
Everyone has a senior transfer as a pioneer. All-America point guard Aari McDonald scored 31 points in one of the best games of her career against Texas A&M. She is also a problem on the defensive and has locked the Sweet 16 berth with late thefts against BYU. McDonald moved from Washington, where she was Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2017.
“There is no other player who has more influence on his team than Aari has over Arizona,” said head coach Adia Barnes, who led Arizona to its final Sweet 16 in 2005, after the win.
McDonald averages 22.7 points in the tournament on 59.2 percent off the ground. They hit six of 12 3-pointers in the sweet 16 and will likely be a first-round WNBA draft election next month. She is praised by Sam Thomas and Cate Reese.
Indiana is led by point guard Ali Patberg, an Indiana native who chose to play for Notre Dame after high school. She moved to Indiana after two seasons, the first of which was canceled with an ACL injury.
Patberg averages 15.7 points at 51 percent shooting. She was consistent alongside Mackenzie Holmes and Grace Berger.
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