From upsets and buzzer-beaters to the emotional moments of victory, the NCAA girls’s basketball match has continued to ship hearth matchups and electrical storylines. Tonight, the stage is ready for what ought to be a historic Last 4 showdown in San Antonio.
No.1 seed Stanford will tackle No.1 seed South Carolina at 6 p.m. ET, adopted by No.1 seed Uconn in opposition to No.3 seed Arizona at 9:30 p.m ET.
THE FINAL FOUR ARE SET:
➡️ UConn vs. Arizona
➡️ South Carolina vs. Stanford
Is it Friday but? pic.twitter.com/2zH0pCv6RL
— WSLAM (@wslam) March 31, 2021
This years Last 4 will likely be led by legendary coaches, lots of that are persevering with to make historical past. The UConn Huskies are led by head coach Geno Auriemma, who has led this system to a complete of 20 Last 4 appearances and 11 Nationwide Championships. The Stanford Cardinals, coached by Tara VanDerveer, will likely be making their 14th Last 4 look, and if profitable, have the prospect to win this system’s third Nationwide Championship title, the first since 1992.
For the primary time, the Last 4 could have two Black head coaches, South Carolina’s Daybreak Staley and Arizona’s Adia Barnes. This may the Gamecocks’ third Last 4 look up to now six tournaments, whereas the Wildcats will likely be making their first-ever Last 4 look. Staley and Barnes are additionally the one former WNBA gamers to steer a girls’s crew to the Last 4.
There have been many who paved the best way for them, together with C. Vivian Stringer—who has led three groups to the Last 4: Cheyney in 1982, Iowa in 1993, and Rutgers in each 2000 and 2007. Carolyn Peck led Purdue to the ‘chip in 1999, making her the primary Black lady to win an NCAA championship. Pokey Chatman then led LSU to the Last 4 in 2005 and 2006.
“There’s so many Black coaches on the market that don’t get alternatives,” Staley stated, per ESPN. “As a result of when ADs don’t see it, they don’t see it. And so they’re gonna see it on the most important stage Friday night time.”
“Our historical past right here in girls’s basketball is full of so many Black our bodies, for this to be occurring in 2021, to me, is lengthy overdue,” she added. “We’re proud, we’re pleased. I do know my telephone might be filled with textual content messages of Black coaches all throughout the nation simply congratulating us on doing it, on being current, being within the second, having the ability to take our applications to this place.”
4 legendary applications, filled with star energy, will faceoff tonight with one aim in thoughts: the NCAA Championship. To get you prepared for all of it, right here’s a rundown of how every program has carried out all through the match:
Coming off each an SEC common season and tournament title, South Carolina is with no query taking part in a few of their finest basketball. Head coach Daybreak Staley is main the Gamecocks to their third Last 4 look up to now six tournaments.
Staley has established a outstanding program at South Carolina and unquestionably have change into an elite powerhouse. Within the Elite 8 in opposition to No.6 seed Texas, South Carolina held Texas to solely 34 factors, together with zero factors within the 4th quarter.
— GamecockWBB (@GamecockWBB) March 31, 2021
South Carolina is fueled by 6’5″ junior heart Aliyah Boston, who’s environment friendly on either side of the ground. Coming off profitable MVP honors throughout the SEC Tournament, Boston can end across the rim and is a game-changer on protection along with her capacity to dam pictures and rebound.
The Gamecocks additionally depend on their quicks guards to set the tempo. Junior Destanni Henderson and sophomore Zia Cooke can each rating at a excessive and constant stage.
Out of the Pac-12, the No.1 seed Stanford is making their 14th Last 4 look and if profitable, have the prospect to win this system’s third Nationwide Championship title—the first since 1992.
Through the Elite 8, Stanford stepped up when it mattered. After trailing by 14 factors within the third quarter in opposition to Louisville, Stanford made a serious comeback and outscored Louisville 52-25 within the second half.
Guard Lexi Hull, who scored a team-high 21 factors and 9 rebounds, together with Kiana Williams, who poured in 14 factors and dished out 5 assists, each led the cost for Stanford within the comeback victory. Haley Jones additionally contributed offensively and completed with 10 factors.
The Cardinals are also geared up with forwards who can ship on each ends of the ground, similar to versatile massive Ashten Prechtel, high-flying ahead Fran Belibi, and shot-blocker Cameron Brinks.
The Cardinals have a problem forward of them in opposition to the Gamecocks, who will certainly convey their offensive firepower.
University of Connecticut
Geno Auriemma and the Huskies are not any strangers to being one of many final 4 groups standing. They’re presently embarking on their thirteenth consecutive look within the Last 4.
As they give the impression of being to win their first title since 2016, the Huskies are led by freshman sensation Paige Bueckers—who has been making headlines all season lengthy along with her fascinating playmaking capacity.
Bueckers has been a star from the second she stepped foot on campus. She’s caught the eyes of basketball followers across the nation, and her numbers show the hype: Bueckers is averaging 20.1 factors, 5.9 assists, and 4.8 rebounds.
On Wednesday, the star guard turned the primary freshman to win AP Nationwide Participant of the 12 months.
Paige Bueckers is the 2021 AP Nationwide Participant of the 12 months.
She is the primary freshman to ever win the award. pic.twitter.com/HGPcJjmsML
— WSLAM (@wslam) March 31, 2021
Bueckers, together with Christyn Williams and Evina Westbrook, shined in opposition to No.5 seed Iowa within the Candy 16 and introduced that fireplace into the Elite 8. All three gamers stuffed up the stat sheet, serving to will the crew into the Elite 8 for a extremely anticipated matchup in opposition to the No.2 seed Baylor.
The UConn-Baylor matchup didn’t disappoint, both. The Huskies went on an electrical 19-0 run within the fourth quarter, led by Bueckers—who scored ten of these factors. They ended up defeating the Bears, 69-67, and Bueckers completed with 28 factors.
Paige Bueckers in TAKEOVER MODE.
— WSLAM (@wslam) March 30, 2021
In what has been deemed some of the dramatic video games of the match so far—thanks partly to a controversial no-foul name that triggered even LeBron James to weigh in—the Huskies have been clutch and stepped up when the second mattered most.
This stacked roster has an opportunity to hold the torch and write their title in UConn’s historical past books. The final time the Huskies competed within the Last 4 was in 2019 once they misplaced to Notre Dame.
You possibly can say this Arizona crew is the outlier among the many different groups, however make no mistake—they’re simply as a lot of a powerhouse as their opponents.
Pac-12 Player of the Year and senior guard Aari McDonald has been excellent on each ends of the courtroom all through the match. She dropped a powerful 64 mixed factors in wins over Texas A&M and Indiana.
Aari is simply LIKE THAT. pic.twitter.com/y6dDAo6nCt
— WSLAM (@wslam) March 30, 2021
The matchup between McDonald and Bueckers is bound to be a must-see. When requested concerning the matchup, McDonald—who was named the Co-Defensive Player of the Year in the Pac 12—says she is wanting ahead to the chance:
“I’m very excited for this matchup,” McDonald says, per SB Nation. “I believe I’ve referred to as this since we received right here and I’ve been telling my teammates we match up properly with them. However she’s a gifted participant. I’ll give her that. However I’m gonna make it exhausting for her to attain and I’m actually excited to defend her.”
The Wildcats are solely moments away from taking part in of their first-ever Last 4—and if they’ll handle to defeat the Huskies, they may proceed to make historical past as their look to elevate up the Championship trophy for the primary time.
Let the insanity start.
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