The Elite Eight of the 2019 women’s NCAA tournament is underway. We’re compiling the top results, sights and sounds of the day.
UConn defeated Louisville on Sunday to punch its ticket to Tampa and the Final Four. While the Huskies will play in their NCAA-record 12th consecutive Final Four, Oregon will play in its first after toppling top-seeded Mississippi State.
Here’s what you need to know about the Elite Eight:
This is the UConn we’re used to seeing. Napheesa Collier might have carried the Huskies the past few games, but the entire starting five stepped up Sunday. The Huskies owned the 3-point line, hitting 14 from downtown, and got back to their running game, scoring 25 points in transition. And Katie Lou Samuelson looked like her old self as UConn advanced to a 12th consecutive Final Four.
Samuelson, who has been dealing with a back injury, was held to a season-low six points in the Sweet 16. She entered Sunday shooting 28.6 percent from beyond the arc in the NCAA tournament. She hit her first 3-pointer less than four minutes into the game — and was far from done. Samuelson finished with a game-high 29 points, going 7-for-12 from the 3-point line and playing the last six-plus minutes with four fouls. Samuelson’s points and made 3-pointers were career highs in 19 NCAA tournament games.
Collier, a senior All-American, added 12 points and 13 rebounds. Sophomore Megan Walker, who averages 12 PPG on the season, had that many by halftime, making her first four 3-point attempts. Crystal Dangerfield had 10 points, and freshman Christyn Williams added 16.
Louisville senior Asia Durr missed all eight of her field goal attempts in the first quarter but finished with 21 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Dangerfield face-guarded Durr most of the game, and the Cardinals’ All-American was just 3-for-11 from the field when guarded by Dangerfield. Durr caps her career with 2,485 career points and 374 career 3-pointers (both rank second in program history).
UConn had shot a combined 26 percent in its previous two games from 3-point range, but hit nine in the first half. Still, Louisville managed to keep it close, scoring 14 points off UConn turnovers in the second half. But UConn’s mini-runs repeatedly stretched the lead to double digits. Louisville would claw back, only for UConn to answer with a 3-pointer.
Senior Sam Fuehring added 15 points for the Cardinals, who were outrebounded 43-38. The Huskies will play the winner of the Chicago Regional — either Notre Dame or Stanford — in the national semifinals. — Melanie Jackson
Megan Walker, Crystal Dangerfield, Christyn Williams and Napheesa Collier combine to help the Huskies go on a 10-run against Louisville.
No. 2 seed UConn survives late run by No. 1 seed Louisville, beats the Cardinals 80-73 to advance to Women’s Final Four for 12th consecutive time and 20th time overall. Katie Lou Samuelson leads Huskies with 29 points; fellow senior Napheesa Collier is Albany Regional MVP, after a combined 37 points and 23 rebounds in the two games. UConn as a team was 14 of 26 from 3-point range. Asia Durr finishes her Louisville career with 21 points, 9 rebound, 5 assists.
— Breanna Stewart (@breannastewart) March 31, 2019
LOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU for THREE!
— UConn Women’s Hoops (@UConnWBB) March 31, 2019
THE SPIRIT OF DIANA TAURASI AND TIFFANY HAYES IS WITH YOU MEGAN
— Diana Taurasi’s Bun (@DT3sBun) March 31, 2019
Sabrina Ionescu leads the Ducks to an 88-84 win over Mississippi State Bulldogs, leading Oregon to its first Final Four.
Junior guard Sabrina Ionescu scored 31 points, a program record for an NCAA tournament game, to help send the Ducks to their first Final Four. Mississippi State, which lost in the last two NCAA championship games, capped its season at 33-3. All-American center Teaira McCowan finished with 19 points and 15 rebounds, her 11th career double-double in the NCAA tournament. She is expected to be a lottery pick in the April 10 WNBA draft.
Just like the two star players, the game was a battle of contrasting styles. Oregon, the nation’s top 3-point shooting team at 41.9 percent from beyond the arc, made 13 of 26 3-pointers, matching the program record set last Sunday against Indiana. Ionescu’s five 3-pointers (on eight attempts) also tied a 25-year-old school record for an NCAA tournament game. The NCAA’s all-time career leader in triple-doubles, Ionescu added eight assists and seven rebounds.
Forward Satou Sabally added 22 points for Oregon, while Ruthy Hebard had 14 and Maite Cazorla 11. All five Mississippi State starters scored in double figures, including 18 from Anriel Howard and 15 from Jazzmun Holmes.
The first half saw seven ties and 11 lead changes, and the score was knotted at 59 entering the fourth quarter. Ionescu scored 14 points in the period, and the Ducks hit five 3-pointers.
Hebard came up huge in the final two minutes. With Oregon up 78-75, she had back-to-back blocks (including one on a McCowan attempt), then grabbed a defensive rebound. Ionescu then hit a deep 3-pointer at the other end with 1:12 to play to complete the five-point swing. Cazorla added another 3-pointer off an assist from Ionescu with 35 seconds left.
Oregon will play the winner of the Greensboro Regional, either top-seeded Baylor or No. 2 seed Iowa, in the Final Four. — Melanie Jackson
For the first time in program history, the Oregon Ducks are headed to the women’s Final Four after outlasting Mississippi State 88-84 in a thrilling showdown of the top two seeds in the Portland regional final. To the delight of a huge pro-Oregon crowd at the Moda Center, Sabrina Ionescu scored 14 of her 31 points in the fourth quarter, including a crucial 3-pointer with 1:13 left and Oregon up just three. The Bulldogs fell just short of a third consecutive trip to the Final Four after losing in the championship game each of the last two years.
Sabrina Ionescu dribbles inside and knocks down a tough contested baseline jumper.
During his postgame press conference, Oregon coach Kelly Graves joked, “I’m going to test how many texts a phone can get.” He was at 310 and counting at that point, and promised to get back to everybody as soon as possible (but probably not tonight).
— Kevin Pelton (@kpeltonWBB) March 31, 2019
Must-see play of the day
Teaira McCown rejects Maite Cazorola’s shot and adds a nasty glare afterwards.
Quote of the day
“At that moment in time, I didn’t want it to go to overtime. I didn’t want to give them anymore opportunities to score. I was also pretty tired. And so I was like, let me just hit this and walk off to the Final Four.”
Sabrina Ionescu, on her clutch 3-pointer with 1:12 to play
Sabrina Ionescu channels James Harden with a step-back 3-pointer to extend Oregon’s lead over Mississippi State.
Stat of the day
Mississippi State’s Jazzmun Holmes had 13 assists and no turnovers on Sunday against Oregon. That ranks as the second-most assists without a turnover in a NCAA tournament game in the last 20 seasons. Baylor’s Niya Johnson had 16 assists with no turnovers in 2015. — ESPN Stats & Info
We’re still not over Arike vs. Chennedy
Dear God, please let me have a daughter with Chennedy Carter level savagery. Thank you in advance. #NCAAW
— LaChina Robinson (@LaChinaRobinson) March 30, 2019
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