The South Carolina Gamecocks became the first team to qualify for the NCAA women’s basketball Final Four with a 80-74 victory over Florida State on Sunday. The Gamecocks, the No. 1 seed in the Greensboro (North Carolina) Regional, advances to their first ever Final Four appearance.
Junior guard Tiffany Mitchell scored seven of her game-high 21 points in the last two minutes of the game to lead South Carolina (34-2), which led the contest for just three minutes and 43 seconds. Mitchell added six rebounds, five assists and two blocks. Sophomore center Alaina Coates, who was a perfect 6-of-6 from the floor, added 14 points off the bench while freshman guard A’ja Wilson chipped in with 10 points.
South Carolina shot an incredible 61.2 percent (30-of-49) from the floor and received 40 points from its bench.
Leticia Romero tallied 13 points to lead Florida State (32-5), while Brittany Brown added 12.
Notre Dame and Baylor will battle for the Oklahoma City Regional crown later tonight. The game time is set for 8:30 p.m. (EDT). This is the second straight year the Fighting Irish and Lady Bears will meet for a regional crown and third time the programs have met in NCAA postseason play. Notre Dame, which is attempting to reach its fifth straight Final Four, defeated Baylor 88-69 last year. Overall, Baylor holds a 4-1 lead in the series according to Notre Dame.
Preview of Notre Dame- Baylor
No. 1 Notre Dame (34-2) vs. No. 2 Baylor (33-3)
Place: Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
TV: ESPN and Watch ESPN. Beth Mowins (play-by-play), Stephanie White (color), and LaChina Robinson (sideline).
Radio: Pulse FM (96.9/92.1)/WatchND (live) with Bob Nagle (play-by-play).
How the teams got there?
Notre Dame: The Fighting Irish reached the Elite Eight with a 81-60 victory over Stanford. The win was Notre Dame’s 20th consecutive win and first ever against the Cardinal.
Lindsay Allen scored 24-of-her career-high 28 in the first half as the Fighting Irish never trailed. Junior guard Jewell Loyd added 21 points.
Baylor: The Lady Bears rolled over Iowa 81-66 behind Sune Agbuke’s career-high 23 points. Agbuke added 12 rebounds. Sophomore Nina Davis chipped in 20 points and six rebounds while Niya Johnson contributed 10 points, 16 assists, and seven rebounds.
Loyd (ND): Loyd was chosen as the 2014-15 espnW National Player of the Year, leads the Irish with 20.1 points a game. The junior has topped the 20-point plateau in 19 games this season.
Allen (ND): The sophomore is one of the top point guards in the nation and is a finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is presented annually to the nation’s top point guard. Allen is averaging 10.6 points and 5.2 assists a game while shooting 53.8 percent from the floor.
Brianna Turner (ND): The ACC Freshman of the Year is averaging 13.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.5 blocks a game. Turner is shooting 66.3 percent from the floor.
Taya Reimer (ND): The sophomore is averaging 10.1 points and 5.9 rebounds a game.
Davis (Baylor): Davis, who was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, leads the Lady Bears with 20.9 points and 8.2 rebounds a contest. She is a finalist for the Naismith Trophy and Wade Trophy. Davis shoots 58.5 percent from the floor.
Khadijiah Cave (Baylor): Cave, who was selected as the Big 12 Sixth Player of the Year, is second on the team in scoring. She is averaging 9.6 points and 4.7 rebounds.
Johnson (Baylor) : Johnson is averaging 7.3 points a contest to go along with a NCAA best 8.9 assists and 5.0 rebounds.
Agbuke (Baylor): Agbuke is averaging 5.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 assists.
Imani Wright (Baylor): Wright is third on the team in scoring with 9.4 points a contest while also adding over two assists a contest.
- Notre Dame has topped the century mark four times this year.
- Baylor is competing in its 12th straight and 14th all-time NCAA Tournament. The Lady Bears are 36-11 all-time in the tournament according to the school’s website.
- The schools have combined for nine Final Four appearances and three national championships.
- Baylor is very young: having one senior, three juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen.
[photo image by Robert Laberge/Getty Images]