pcloudy.png
Saturday May 21st, 2022 9:17AM

South Carolina women top Louisville, advance to title game

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — This time, Aliyah Boston and the South Carolina Gamecocks were smiling as they strutted off the court at the Final Four.

The only crying came from relief and joy, one year after a painfully opposite finish in the national semifinals.

Boston took over after halftime and finished with 23 points and 18 rebounds to back up her AP National Player of the Year award, carrying South Carolina to the NCAA championship game with a 72-59 victory over Louisville on Friday night.

“You see happy tears, happy tears, right now,” Boston said in her postgame TV interview. “I’m just thanking God we have one more game.”

Brea Beal matched her season high with 12 points and helped hold Cardinals star Hailey Van Lith to nine points on 4-for-11 shooting as the Gamecocks (34-2) delivered another stifling defensive performance and advanced to meet Connecticut, a 63-58 semifinal winner over Stanford, on Sunday night.

“Life in general, it’s going to throw tests at you. You’re going to have to pass the tests or you’re going to have to retake them,” said coach Dawn Staley, who will try to win her second national championship with South Carolina eight months after the Hall of Famer led the U.S. team to a gold medal in the Tokyo Olympics.

Destanni Henderson scored 11 points with 3-for-6 shooting from 3-point range for South Carolina, which had a 19-5 assists advantage and improved to 13-0 this season against AP-ranked opponents.

Emily Engstler led Louisville with 18 points and nine rebounds as the Cardinals went 1 for 8 from 3-point range and were never able to find a rhythm in the half court against the No. 1 overall seed in this tournament.

South Carolina, which won it all in 2017, was ousted in the semifinals last season by one point to eventual champion Stanford when Boston’s put-back attempt bounced off the rim at the buzzer. The 6-foot-5 junior from the U.S. Virgin Islands has bounced right back a year later, and the Gamecocks have followed her lead.

“We knew that were going to be tested, and this is the hump that we need to get over,” Boston said.

Kianna Smith and Olivia Cochran each scored 14 points for the Cardinals (29-5), who were the only team in this Final Four without an NCAA championship in their trophy case. This was the program's fourth trip to the national semifinals in coach Jeff Walz's 15 seasons.

“You don’t ever want to say that’s your favorite team, because then all your past teams get mad at you, but I’d put this group right up there at the top,” Walz said. “It was just an absolute joy to coach."

The Gamecocks, who were the wire-to-wire No. 1 team in the AP poll this season, squeezed their first four tournament opponents in the Greensboro Region to a bleak average of 41.2 points on their way to a fourth Final Four in the last seven years.

The Cardinals, one of the three No. 1 seeds in this Final Four, made it out of the Wichita Region without any trouble. Van Lith, the relentless sophomore guard with the perpetually flopping blond pigtails, hit the 20-point mark in each of their first four tournament games.

LOCKDOWN ON LOUISVILLE

Van Lith met her match with Beal, who had a four-inch height advantage and shadowed her all over the court as she often does to the opponent’s most dangerous player. Van Lith, whose first basket came on a knifing drive for a layup with 1:43 left in the second quarter, had two jumpers blocked by Beal and three turnovers in the first half.

Engstler, the tough-as-nails transfer from Syracuse, helped Louisville keep Boston from getting too comfortable in the paint while Cochran helped with the muscle. Physical play can come with a price, though, and with 4.2 seconds left in the third quarter Boston drew Engstler’s fourth foul on a putback layup and stretched the lead to 57-48 with the and-one free throw.

Engstler fouled out with 4:56 to go and had her head buried in her clenched hands on the bench as her teammates tried to console her.

“I think we should all leave this arena and Minneapolis with our heads held very high. I’m extremely proud of this team, and I’ve had an amazing time with them,” Engstler said.

BOSTON STRONG

After putting up 28 points and 22 rebounds in the Sweet 16 against North Carolina, Boston had plenty left for the Final Four.

Wearing her familiar vibrant braids in a bright-pink-and-purple combination, Boston helped the Gamecocks set a commanding tone early with an 11-2 lead. The Cardinals missed seven of their first eight shots from the floor.

Louisville enjoyed a 12-0 run early in the second quarter to take a short-lived three-point edge, but South Carolina simply had so much more to offer after that. Henderson's 3-pointer gave the Gamecocks their largest lead at 51-36 midway through the third quarter, and the Cardinals were only within less than eight points for 42 seconds after that.

Boston had 15 points and 10 rebounds in the second half.

“The game just opened up,” she said. “We were able to continue to move the ball.”

ANTHEM ABSENCE

The entire South Carolina team stayed off the court during the national anthem, keeping with the Gamecocks’ practice all season. Last season, several players took a knee during the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

___

More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Basketball, AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, College Sports, AP Sports - Women's College Basketball
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
South Carolina women top Louisville, advance to title game
Aliyah Boston had 23 points and 18 rebounds to back up her AP National Player of the Year award and carry South Carolina to the NCAA championship game
9:50PM ( 11 minutes ago )
Hinako Shibuno takes lead in final major at Mission Hills
Hinako Shibuno shot a 6-under 66 in The Chevron Championship to take the second-round lead
9:40PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Zelenskyy: Retreating Russian troops leaving mines behind
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning his people that retreating Russian forces are creating “a complete disaster” outside the capital as they leave behind many mines, even around homes and corpses
9:20PM ( 41 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Politically charged US-Iran in first Middle East World Cup
The most controversial World Cup ever will feature in Qatar the most politically charged matchups
6:43PM ( 3 hours ago )
US to play England, Iran and possibly Ukraine at World Cup
The United States will play either Ukraine, Wales or Scotland in its World Cup opener, then meet England and Iran in its return to the tournament
6:34PM ( 3 hours ago )
Shibuno leads Chevron Championship halfway through 2nd round
Hinako Shibuno shot a 6-under 66 in The Chevron Championship to take the lead halfway through the second round
6:27PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Sports
Arizona's Tommy Lloyd wins AP men's coach of the year
Arizona's Tommy Lloyd has been named The Associated Press men's basketball coach of the year after leading the Wildcats to the Sweet 16 in his first season
4:18PM ( 5 hours ago )
Imprisoned Griner gets support from USA Basketball teammates
A’ja Wilson wishes that she and her USA Basketball teammates could do more to help Brittney Griner right now
4:05PM ( 5 hours ago )
NCAA president decries pace of basketball investigations
NCAA President Mark Emmert says investigations into allegations of major violations against several high-profile men’s college basketball programs have taken “way too long.”
7:50AM ( 14 hours ago )
AP Online Basketball
Jury gets case of 4 men charged in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot
Jurors have heard closing arguments and will begin deliberations Monday in the trial of four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
7:45PM ( 2 hours ago )
Will Smith resigns from film academy over Chris Rock slap
Will Smith resigned Friday from the motion picture academy following his Oscars night slap of Chris Rock and said he would accept any further punishment the organization imposed
7:32PM ( 2 hours ago )
Alaska Airlines cancels 9% of its flights over staffing woes
Alaska Airlines canceled dozens of U.S. West Coast flights Friday as off-duty pilots picketed in several major cities over an impasse in nearly three years of contract negotiations
7:26PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Psaki won't confirm she's leaving White House for MSNBC
White House press secretary Jen Psaki isn't confirming reports that she'll soon take a TV job at MSNBC
4:54PM ( 5 hours ago )
Stocks edge higher, Treasury yields soar after jobs data
Stock indexes ended a bumpy day higher on Wall Street Friday while Treasury yields soared, after a healthy report on the U.S. job market strengthened expectations for coming interest rate hikes
4:52PM ( 5 hours ago )
EXPLAINER: Workers return and 4 other jobs-report charts
Solid hiring, strong wage gains and sharp price increases are drawing more Americans into the workforce
4:49PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online National News
Parker hopes Title IX documentary serves as inspiration
Title IX has been a passionate subject for Candace Parker ever since she learned of its impact while doing a paper on it in the eighth grade
7:32PM ( 1 day ago )
South Carolina's Aliyah Boston wins AP player of the year
Aliyah Boston of South Carolina is The Associated Press women's basketball player of the year
6:35PM ( 1 day ago )
Coach K builds Blue Devils into his final Final Four team
In one of his tried-and-true motivational speeches, Mike Krzyzewski outlined his four pillars of team building
6:19PM ( 1 day ago )
College Sports
Women's Final Four teams survived wild tourney amid parity
There was a time, not that many years ago, when predicting who would win the women’s NCAA Tournament was not that difficult
7:59PM ( 3 days ago )
UConn reaches 14th straight Final Four, tops NC State in 2OT
UConn is heading to the women's Final Four for the 14th straight time
2:41AM ( 3 days ago )
Louisville beats Michigan 62-50 to return to Final Four
Hailey Van Lith scored 22 points, Olivia Cochran made a series of crucial baskets in the final minutes, and Louisville held off Michigan 62-50 to return to the Final Four for the fourth time in program history
12:37AM ( 3 days ago )
AP Sports - Women's College Basketball
Hinako Shibuno takes lead in final major at Mission Hills
Hinako Shibuno shot a 6-under 66 in The Chevron Championship to take the second-round lead
9:40PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Zelenskyy: Retreating Russian troops leaving mines behind
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is warning his people that retreating Russian forces are creating “a complete disaster” outside the capital as they leave behind many mines, even around homes and corpses
9:20PM ( 41 minutes ago )
South Carolina tops Louisville 72-59, advances to title game
Aliyah Boston had 23 points and 18 rebounds to back up her AP National Player of the Year award and carry South Carolina to the NCAA championship game
9:19PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Palin files paperwork to run in Alaska US House race
Sarah Palin has filed paperwork to join a field of at least 40 candidates vying for Alaska’s lone U.S. House seat
9:18PM ( 43 minutes ago )
Report criticizes Virginia's response to snowy I-95 gridlock
Virginia state agencies responding to a severe snowstorm that stranded hundreds of motorists along Interstate 95 in January collectively lost what a report called “situational awareness” amid the growing gridlock
8:54PM ( 1 hour ago )