The 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship is set.
Fans were treated to two outstanding Final Four matchups on Friday as South Carolina kicked things off with an impressive double-digit victory over Louisville. With the win, the Gamecocks advance to their second title game in school history (2017).
Here are the top moments from Friday’s Final Four games.
No. 2 UConn 63, No. 1 Stanford 58
And we’re off!
It was Anna Wilson, Cameron Brink, Haley Jones and twins Lacie and Lexie Hull who took the court first for Stanford, while Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards, Olivia Nelson-Ododa, Azzi Fudd and Christyn Williams started for Connecticut.
Both teams got off to a slow start, as things got stuck at 4-2 for a couple of minutes, but UConn found its footing midway through the opening frame to take a 12-9 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second quarter, it was Evina Westbrook who caught fire for the Huskies to help preserve their lead.
The senior guard only shot 29.7% from 3-point range on the season, but she came off the bench to knock down three shots from beyond the arc, giving UConn a much-needed boost offensively.
At halftime, UConn held a slim 27-26 lead over Stanford.
Unlikely source of offense
Nelson-Ododa struggled offensively in the Elite Eight, scoring just six points. But she was a source of offense in the second half for UConn, scoring eight points through three quarters.
Nelson-Ododa got the Huskies off to a quick start in the final quarter with this beautiful spin and finish.
The fourth quarter was all UConn, with the Huskies extending their lead to as many as eight points to create a cushion for themselves early in the frame.
In the end, UConn was able to withstand a late Stanford flurry to secure a 63-58 win and advance to the national championship game.
No. 1 South Carolina 72, No. 1 Louisville 59
Newly-minted AP Player of the Year Aliyah Boston, alongside Victaria Saxton, Brea Beal, Zia Cooke and Destanni Henderson, got things going for the Gamecocks, who went on a 7-0 run to kick things off.
Finding a rhythm
On the other side, Olivia Cochran, Kianna Smith, Hailey Van Lith, Chelsie Hall and Emily Engstler started for the Cardinals, who had to burn a timeout early after falling into an 11-2 hole.
Louisville picked things up late in the frame, going on an 8-6 run to cut South Carolina’s lead to 17-10 heading into the second quarter.
Here come the Cards
Engstler made back-to-back layups early in the second quarter to make it a one-point game, 19-18.
Then, Engstler stole the ball from Cooke and made another clutch basket to give Louisville its first lead of the game, 20-19.
Henderson drained a 3-point jumper to help South Carolina regain the lead midway through the second quarter, followed by a buzzer-beater from Beal to give the Gamecocks the last word before halftime, 34-28.
Neck and neck
Cooke opened the second-half scoring with a huge 3-pointer to extend the Gamecocks’ lead, but Louisville was never out of it, as the Cardinals continued to show up in big moments.
South Carolina continued to run the floor as the third quarter wore on and jumped out to a 57-48 edge heading into the final frame.
Sealing the deal
The Gamecocks were a force to be reckoned with the entire game, and that remained true in the fourth quarter.
South Carolina never let its foot off the gas, cruising to a 13-point victory over Louisville.
Boston led the Gamecocks with 23 points and 18 rebounds.
Get more from Women’s College Basketball Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more