Minneapolis, Minnesota – There was a ton of excitement in the air as the NCAA Women’s Final Four kicked off on Friday. Four good teams were facing off and one of them was the defending champion in the Stanford Cardinal. They were trying to repeat as back to back NCAA champions, since the last time that happened was six years ago when UConn pulled off their string of four consecutive championships. However, Stanford’s pursuit ended Friday night when UConn won the game. In the other Final Four semifinal game, South Carolina showed why they were the best team in the country by taking care of Louisville. UConn and South Carolina both advanced to the championship game.
In the championship game, South Carolina came out strong in the first quarter and led by 9, 11-2 early before UConn took a timeout and they led by 14 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, it was much the same, although UConn did turn it up defensively but they still trailed by 13 halfway through the second before they applied some pressure and cut the lead down to eight points at halftime. South Carolina led 35-27 at half. In the third quarter, UConn did make a run to cut the lead down to six points with about a 1:18 remaining in the quarter, before South Carolina regrouped to lead by 9 after the end of the third quarter. The score was 46-37. In the fourth quarter, South Carolina was able to extend the lead a little bit and controlled the pace of the game thanks in large part to senior guard Destanni Henderson’s leadership. She led the Gamecocks with a career high 26 points. South Carolina went to on to defeat UConn and break Geno Auriemma’s record of undefeated NCAA Final appearances at 11 to 1.
Notes and Tidbits from the Final Four
- South Carolina showed why they were the best team this year. They were dominant all season long, they had the best player on their team in Aliyah Boston and in return, defeated everyone in their path to win the NCAA Championship.
- UConn should also be given their credit. They also pushed through many obstacles and were able to be in the final game.
- It’s not easy to beat a legendary coach in Geno Auriemma. Coach Dawn Staley deserves all of the credit for pulling it off and being the one coach who was able to defeat him in the finals. 11-1 is hard to do. It’s hard to win and Coach Geno Auriemma pointed that out in his press conference.
- Destanni Henderson was the player of the game. Her leadership and her points mattered when UConn was constantly doubling Aliyah Boston and making it difficult for her to score. She still ended up with a double-double with 11 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks and was named the MOP of the Final Four.
- South Carolina used their post strength against UConn to get their advantage. They out-rebounded UConn 49-24 and were 17-26 from the free throw line while UConn was 1-4 from the free throw line.
- Final tidbit – Minnesota did a job in hosting the Women’s Final Four and made sure to remember all three levels of women’s basketball – high school, women’s college basketball and their WNBA team, the Minnesota Lynx.