Tag: 2014 women’s NCAA Tournament


Notre Dame, UConn advance to women’s title game


No. 1 UConn and No. 1 Notre Dame have been the two best teams in women’s college basketball all season long, with both teams rolling through the season without a single blemish on their respective resumes. That remained the case in Sunday’s national semifinals, and as a result the former conference rivals will meet on the game’s biggest stage Tuesday night.

And that will be the first time in the history of women’s college basketball that the title game matches undefeated teams.

The question for Notre Dame was a simple one: would they be able to account for the loss of leading rebounder Natalie Achonwa, with the senior forward suffering a torn ACL in the South Bend regional final. Thanks to the scoring of Kayla McBride and a group effort on the boards the Fighting Irish were able to do so against No. 4 Maryland, beating the Terrapins 87-61 in the first semifinal.

McBride finished the game with 28 points to go along with seven rebounds, making 12 of her 21 attempts from the field. As a team Muffet McGraw’s squad shot 50.8% from the field, but the story for Notre Dame was their rebounding. Notre Dame managed to rebound 52.8% of its missed shots, scoring 20 second-chance points. Jewell Loyd (five offensive rebounds) and Markisha Wright (four) accounted for nine of Notre Dame’s 19 offensive boards with the latter combining with Taya Reimer to help the Fighting Irish account for the loss of Achonwa inside.

Brionna Jones scored 16 points and Alyssa Thomas added 14 for the Terrapins, with the latter shooting 5-for-13 from the field in her college finale. Thomas ends here collegiate career as the school’s all-time leading scorer.

As for UConn, the Huskies got off to a slow start from the field as they made just five of their first 20 field goal attempts. Geno Auriemma’s team would get going late in the first half, turning a six-point deficit into a four-point lead at the intermission in what would eventually become a 75-56 win over No. 2 Stanford.

UConn has just a six-player rotation but all six contribute, with five starters finishing Sunday’s win in double figures and reserve Kiah Stokes adding nine points off the bench. Breanna Stewart paced the Huskies with 18 points while also grabbing seven rebounds, and UConn’s front court length factored into Stanford’s Chiney Ogwumike scoring 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting. As a team Stanford shot 38.2% from the field after making seven of their first 12 shots, and the 6-for-25 night from beyond the arc didn’t help matters either.

Normally a game between Notre Dame and UConn at this stage in the season would represent the third or fourth time they’ve met, meaning that there would essentially be no secrets. But thanks to conference realignment, with the Fighting Irish in the ACC and the Huskies in the American, that isn’t the case.

What hasn’t changed is the fact that these two elite programs have continued to rack up wins, and as a result they’ll be playing for a spot in the history books Tuesday night.

Stanford, Maryland join undefeated UConn and Notre Dame in women’s Final Four


Maryland 76, Louisville 73: The Terrapin head to Nashville as the lowest seed remaining — the No. 4 seed coming out of the Louisville Region. Maryland had to knock off top-seeded Tennessee to reach the Elite 8, where it faced the No. 3 seed Louisville, playing inside its home arena.

With two minutes Maryland appeared to have the game locked up, leading the Cardinals by a dozen. But Louisville would use a late-game comeback which was nearly completed before Shoni Schimmel missed her potential game-tying 3-pointer. With 31 seconds remaining Schimmel connected on three 3-pointers. She finished with 31 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals. Alyssa Thomas scored a team-high 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for Maryland. Lexie Brown added 20.

Maryland faces undefeated Notre Dame, though, the Fighting Irish will be without senior forward Natalie Achonwa, who tore her ACL in the Elite 8 win over Baylor.

Maryland-Norte Dame is scheduled for 6:30 on April 6.

Stanford 74, North Carolina 65: Chiney Ogwumike played her Maples Pavilion on Tuesday night, but her college career with continue as the No. 2 seed Stanford will head to Nashville for the Final Four following its Elite 8 win over No. 4 seed North Carolina.

Ogwumike went for a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. She was one of five Stanford players in double figures as Mikaela Ruef (17 points), Amber Orrange (14 points), Bonnie Samuelson (13 points), Lili Thompson (10 points) followed.

The Cardinal will play unbeaten UConn, which enters the Final Four with a 37-0 record. In 2010, Stanford ended the Huskies’ 90-game winning streak.

Stanford-UConn is scheduled to tip at 8:30 p.m. on April 6.

Notre Dame’s Natalie Achonwa tears ACL, out for women’s Final Four

Natalie Achonwa
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Undefeated Notre Dame qualified for its fourth straight Final Four on Monday night following an 88-69 win over the No. 2 seed Baylor in the Elite 8.

The Fighting Irish enter the Final Four in Nashville without senior forward Natalie Achonwa, who left the game with less than five minutes remaining with a knee injury. Her college career will end where it began, the Edmund P. Joyce Center in South Bend, as it was announced on Tuesday that she had torn her left ACL and is out for the remainder of the tournament.

Anchonwa was third on the team in scoring and the Irish’s top rebounder at 14.9 points, 7.7 boards, 2.8 assists, 1.2 block and 1.1 steals per game.

“Natalie has been an extremely valuable contributor to our success, not only this season but throughout her career, and that won’t change,” Notre Dame head coach Muffet McGraw said in a statement. “While she may not be in uniform, her voice will be heard loud and clear in the locker room, on the bench and in the huddle. I know that our team is going to continue to feed off her energy, passion and leadership as we head into the Final Four.”

Notre Dame is one of two unbeaten teams in the Final Four along with former conference rival UConn.

The Fighting Irish begin the Final Four on Apr. 6, facing the winner of Maryland-Louisville.