so I guess that means #1 Stanford didn’t go down to #4 Georgia, 61-59.
Chiney did everything she was supposed-expected to, but the rest of her teammates couldn’t make shots. It also hurt that Greenfield went to the bench with a sprained finger, but honestly, the loss wasn’t a HUGE surprise:
Somehow the shock of seeing Stanford’s run of five straight trips to the Final Four come to a premature end, didn’t carry the same sting.
Along with the sense of disappointment came perspective for what the top-seeded Cardinal accomplished.
“I think the reason that I’m not going ballistic right now is like we’re 33-3,” Stanford star Chiney Ogwumike said. “That was a huge achievement for our program.”
Still, it’s surprising that for the first time since 2007, Stanford won’t be playing for a spot in the Final Four.
That’s because Andy’s team did what it needed to do to advance to the Elite 8 for the first time since 2004.
“The senior class … this is our fourth NCAA tournament, and we have been to three Sweet 16s,” guard Jasmine James said. “So to finally make the next step and go to the Elite Eight and now to be going into another game to try to compete to go to the Final Four is definitely back to where Georgia basketball needs to be – trying to compete for a national champion
Smith also offered up some quick analysis of the game.
From Full Court: Jasmine James guides Bulldogs to upset of No. 1 seed Stanford
With her team clinging to a two-point lead with just 23 seconds to play, Georgia senior point guard Jasmine James headed to the foul line for two crucial free throws. Well, almost.
James cast a look to her left, toward the first rows of the stands, mere feet beyond the sideline.
There sat her parents — Greg and Janine — who’d flown almost six hours and endured a lengthy layover to watch their daughter in the regional semifinal against No. 1-seeded Stanford.
They will face the Cal Bears, who find themselves in their first Elite 8 after defeating the upstart Tigers.
The sum of LSU coach Nikki Caldwell’s fears about the Golden Bears came true in the game’s final 20 minutes. And as quick as you could say “transition basket,” the Lady Tigers’ season was over.
“We really tried to establish an inside attack and put the ball inside quite a bit,” Caldwell said. “I thought (Cal guard Brittany) Boyd really took it upon herself to push the tempo, which really got their transition game going. And that gave them some easier looks.”
Writes Elliott Almond:
This time Cal made its free throws, and the Golden Bears are headed into uncharted territory.
Second-seeded Cal broke open a close game in the final six minutes Saturday night in a 73-63 victory over Louisiana State to reach its first Elite Eight in school history in front of a crowd of 6,146 at Spokane Arena.
That Bay Area showdown local women’s basketball fans wanted? Not happening.
The Bears (31-3) will face Georgia on Monday after the Lady Bulldogs upset top-seeded Stanford in the other regional semifinal.
“We’re kind of in awe of this whole thing,” coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We were us in the second half. I’m excited more people are seeing what I already know.”
Michelle Smith adds:
As Georgia celebrated its 61-59 upset of top-seeded Stanford, the chant began from the corner with the Georgia pep band.
“S-E-C, S-E-C.” Pretty soon, the LSU band, seated in the opposite corner of the gym, joined in.
But Cal spoiled the sing-a-long.
The Bears, willing to play as aggressively and as physically as any team in the SEC, completed the power shift in the Pac-12 on Saturday by defeating LSU 73-63 in the Spokane Regional nightcap, punching their ticket to their first Elite Eight.
So while Stanford, the team that has always stood in line in front of Cal, takes an early flight home Sunday morning, the Bears play on. How’s that for a changing of the guard?
I’m not quite buying the implications of the phrase “changing of the guard,” but the Pac12 sure has gotten more interesting.
Michelle offered up some instant analysis of the Stanford-Georiga game and the Cal-LSU game.
BTW, if you can get behind the pay wall, you can read Ann Killion’s lovely piece: Why Lindsay Gottlieb has Cal women’s hoops in the NCAA
Sweet Sixteen Elite Eight
Elena Delle Donne was magnificent against the Wildcats, and Martin’s adjustments in the second half — daring to go man-to-man, urging her players to crash the boards — almost got her Hens an enormous upset. But Delaware could quite get out of the hole they dug. Writes the News Journal’s Kevin Tresolini:
Down 14 at halftime Saturday, Delaware drew considerable confidence from what had become its not-so-secret weapon in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament – the second-half comeback.
Delaware had rallied from seven down at halftime against West Virginia and eight behind after 20 minutes against North Carolina at the Carpenter Center to win in the first two rounds.
“We wanted to go down with a fight if we were going to go down,” Elena Delle Donne said. “Even at half, we didn’t think we were going down.”
The Hens played better defense in the second half, but writes Fagan:
The pace was, in fact, brutal. Delaware was expending so much energy just getting the ball up the floor and getting a shot off without a turnover that little was left for other crucial things like closing out on outside shooters and boxing out on defense. Because of this, each time the Blue Hens pulled within striking distance — like late in the second half when they cut Kentucky’s lead to two — the Wildcats would fly down court and force a foul or whip the ball around and get an open look. Then they would set up their full-court press and make things difficult for Delaware, often forcing a turnover. (The Blue Hens turned over the ball 19 times.)
The key was that, when the rest of the Hens began to rise to the occasion, so did Kentucky’s “no-names.” Especially Kastine Evans who nailed a killer 3-pointer with 2:21 remaining to all but seal the game.
“Kastine has no fear,” said Mathies. “She hustles on every play. We ran a play and the play is designed for anyone that gets open. She got open off the stagger screen and she made it. That shows how confident she is in herself and we’re glad she took the three and made it.”
Added coach Mitchell
“We’re extremely excited to win. We beat a very good team in Delaware. I’m so proud of our team, of finding a way to advance to the next round.”
Kentucky will face a familiar foe, and they think they might finally have enough to get past UConn
Jefferson, Stewart and Tuck did not consider themselves to be freshmen. They considered themselves as impact players. Their intentions were to come in and play a definitive role on a team with national championship aspirations.For months their plan did not completely come together. No matter how relentless UConn assistant coach Shea Ralph was with Jefferson or no matter how relentless associate head coach Chris Dailey and assistant coach Marisa Moseley were with Stewart and Tuck, there were questions whether they were getting through, whether the players were making any progress.
As it turns out, it was all a part of the process.
While the frosh finally “showed up”, UConn’s defense has been a consistent. Said coach Frese:
“I said the other day Connecticut can make really good teams look really bad, and that was on full display today. Obviously we really struggled against their defense. They made it very difficult. They were quicker to loose balls. I thought they were aggressive with their rebounding, but just disappointed overall in how we played.”
It’s likely the Huskies will have to lean heavily on their youngsters if they want to defeat Kentucky. That might be okay. Writes Mike DiMauro: Watch ‘Stewie’ and you see Elena
It was either fitting, or ironic, that two games ended with two standing ovations for two such similar players. Elena Delle Donne and Breanna Stewart. Except that maybe – probably, even – nobody in women’s basketball has them occupying the same airspace.
Delle Donne’s college career ended Saturday at Webster Bank Arena in the Sweet 16, succumbing to Kentucky and Kastine Evans’ killer three late in the game. When it ended, a UConn crowd gave Delle Donne a standing ovation, prompting a tweet from Elena after the game saluting UConn’s “classy fans.”
Stewart’s college career, meanwhile, accelerated into the passing lane a few hours later, helping the Huskies reach the Elite Eight for the eighth straight season. “Stewie,” as her teammates call her, was magnificent: 17 points, eight rebounds, a 3-pointer and four blocks.
From Mechelle: Win or lose, it really has all worked out
Let’s face it: Not many kids have the chance to play for UConn, which has won seven NCAA titles. Fewer still get that opportunity, then decide to walk away from it. Which Walker did, after appearing in 17 games for the Huskies in the 2010-11 season before transferring to Kentucky, and Delle Donne did after leaving Storrs before ever playing for them.
But it has all worked out for Delle Donne, for Walker, for UConn and for women’s college hoops.
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