The final Elite Eight spot is up for grabs.
No. 2 Maryland punched its ticket with a win over a battered up No. 3 Notre Dame as the women’s NCAA Tournament continued Saturday with Sweet 16 matchups. No. 1 South Carolina kept its winning streak alive with a victory over No. 4 UCLA.
Aliyah Boston and the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks are hunting their second consecutive national championship and have a slight hometown advantage on their side – the Greenville Regional is less than two hours away from their campus.
No. 2 UConn lost to Ohio State, failing to reach the Elite Eight for the first time since 2005. It’s Geno Auriemma earliest tournament elimination in 18 years.
The last Elite Eight spot went to No. 1 Virginia Tech, which has never advanced this far before.
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Virginia Tech point guard Georgia Amoore continued her hot streak, scoring 29 to lead the top-seeded Hokies to a 73-64 win over fourth-seeded Tennessee. The win sends Virginia Tech to the Elite Eight for the first time in program history. The Hokies will play third-seeded Ohio State.
Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks is just the second Black male coach to lead his team to the Sweet 16 (or beyond) since the the women’s tournament expanded in 1994. The other is former Syracuse coach Quentin Hillsman, who led the Orange to the 2016 Final Four.
Besides Amoore, Virginia Tech got stellar play from Kayana Traylor, who scored 14 points, and two-time ACC player of the year Elizabeth Kitley, who scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Virginia Tech built as much as an 18-point lead and withstood a second-half run from Tennessee. The Lady Vols cut the Hokies’ lead to one, 53-52, with 6:10 to play. But Virginia Tech responded with an 8-0 run and closed out the game.
Jordan Horston led Tennessee with 17 points, but she also had seven turnovers.
– Lindsay Schnell
SEATTLE — Behind 23 points from Big Ten freshman of the year Cotie McMahon, third-seeded Ohio State pulled off another stunner in the women’s tournament, beating second-seeded UConn 73-61 and sending the Huskies packing.
The loss means UConn’s streak of 14 consecutive Final Fours is over.
The Huskies were out of sorts all afternoon, totaling 25 turnovers. They threw it away 18 times in the first half alone, allowing Ohio State to build as much as a 13-point lead. Ohio State turned those 25 turnovers into 23 points.
Ohio State, which plays a brand of basketball that speeds up its opponents and causes havoc, had an answer every time UConn cut into the lead the second half. Guard Jacy Sheldon, who missed most of the regular season with an injury, was clutch for the Buckeyes, scoring 17 and going a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. She also grabbed 7 rebounds and handed out 5 assists.
Meanwhile UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards, the Huskies’ top scorer, finished with just 4 points, playing only 17 minutes because of foul trouble.
The Buckeyes were terrific at drawing fouls all game, and hit 22-of-30 free throws during the game. They advance to play the winner of top-seeded Virginia Tech vs. fourth-seeded Tennessee.
– Lindsay Schnell
SEATTLE — Ohio State forced UConn into 18 turnovers and held the Huskies without a field goal for almost eight minutes, helping the Buckeyes build a 36-26 halftime lead.
Big Ten freshman of the year Cotie McMahon scored 18 points to lead Ohio State, the third seed. UConn looked all out of sorts in the first two quarters as the Buckeyes sped them up and forced them into bad shots and worse passes. The Buckeyes went on a 17-0 run to take the lead, and were up as much as 13 at one point.
UConn forward Aaliyah Edwards was mostly a non factor, scoring just two points (she averages a team-high 17) and picking up three fouls. She played just nine minutes.
Ohio State has a habit of getting sloppy during games, so the Buckeyes’ focus will be huge, especially coming out of the locker room.
– Lindsay Schnell
South Carolina remains undefeated. The Gamecocks held UCLA to only 34 points in a dominant performance and never trialed. It marks the Gamecocks’ 35th win of the season, tying the school record, and their third-straight trip to the Elite Eight.
“It feels good to make history,” Aliyah Boston said.
Boston was close to a double-double, finishing with 8 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks, as was Victaria Saxton, who recorded 10 points and seven rebounds. South Carolina’s bench added 28 points.
Neither team shot well from beyond the arc – South Carolina went 4-for-16 from three and UCLA went 3-for-18 – but the Gamecocks’ 14 offensive rebounds allowed many second-chance opportunities. The Bruins’ 15 turnovers didn’t help.
There was a scary moment with 2:12 remaining in the game when Charisma Osborne was fouled hard and landed awkwardly. She was the only Bruin to score double digits with 14 points.
South Carolina will play Maryland on Monday in the Elite Eight.
South Carolina gave up only six field goals in the first half against UCLA in leading 25-15 at halftime in the Greenville Regional 1 Sweet 16 action.
The Bruins shot only 27% in the first 20 minutes and South Carolina was no better, hitting only 33% of its shots. UCLA made a concerted effort to pack the paint with defenders leading to the fewest points that South Carolina has scored in a half all season.
Brea Beal had 10 points and six rebounds for the Gamecocks, who dominated the boards, especially on the offensive end. Aliyah Boston has four points and nine rebounds, taking only four field goal attempts.
Charisma Osborne and Kiki Rice, UCLA’s top two scorers, combined to score five points.
Diamond Miller and Shyanne Sellers scored 18 points apiece to lead a second-half blitz to put away Notre Dame 76-59 in the Greenville Regional 1 Sweet 16.
Maryland moves on to the Elite Eight and will take on the winner of UCLA and South Carolina.
Sellers added eight assists, five rebounds and three steals for Maryland, who led by as many as 22 in the second half.
The Terrapins trailed by one at halftime, but outscored the Irish by 13 in the third quarter and continued to pour it on from there.
Notre Dame turned it over 25 times, only hit two of its 10 shots from beyond the arc and couldn’t stay out of foul trouble.
Sonia Citron had 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Irish and was the only Notre Dame player to score in double figures.
Kim Mulkey won’t be the only one drawing attention for what she’s wearing on the sidelines.
The LSU coach went viral Friday for a jacket that was one part Elton John, one part Muppets and one part tea party. Asked what she thought Mulkey might break out for Sunday’s Elite Eight game against her Miami team, Hurricanes coach Katie Meier said she didn’t know.
“But I’m going to wear overalls,” Meier said. “Because opportunity is missed by a lot of people because it’s dressed up in overalls and looks like work, so I’m wearing overalls. Put it out there.”
– Nancy Armour
Notre Dame overcame early turnovers and put together an 11-0 run in the second quarter to take a 32-31 lead in the Greenville Regional 1 Sweet 16 matchup against Maryland.
The Irish turned it over eight times in the first quarter but used their size to gain offensive rebounds to get second-chance opportunities. Maryland was held without a point for six minutes in the second quarter and had turnover issues of their own in allowing the Irish to take the lead.
Sonia Citron has eight points and Maddy Westbeld added seven points, four rebounds and three fouls for Notre Dame, who shot 52 percent in the first half.
Abby Meyers leads Maryland with nine points and Brinae Alexander has eight points off the bench.
– Scooby Axson
The Sweet 16 for the NCAA women’s basketball tournament tips off Saturday with action at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in Greenville, South Carolina, and Climate Pledge Arena in Seattle:
►No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 Maryland
Time/TV: Saturday, 11:30 a.m. ET, ESPN
►No. 4 UCLA vs. No. 1 South Carolina
Time/TV: Saturday, 2:00 p.m. ET, ESPN
►No. 3 Ohio State vs. No. 2 UConn
Time/TV: Saturday, 4:00 p.m. ET, ABC
►No. 1 Virginia Tech vs. No. 4 Tennessee
Time/TV: Saturday, 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2
This is only the second trip to the Sweet 16, and first since 1999, for Virginia Tech, who is trying to establish themselves as one of the nation’s top programs. Winning the ACC tournament and getting a No. 1 seed helped, but if they want to keep themselves in the conversation next season and the season after that, the Hokies need to keep winning.
The Elite Eight used to be such a given for Tennessee it was practically a part of its schedule. But the Lady Vols haven’t gotten that far since 2016. This is really the first team that’s looked to have the potential of the Tennessee teams of old, and its performances in the first two rounds reminded people why they were a trendy Final Four pick in the preseason.
– Nancy Armour, Lindsay Schnell
Twelve women head coaches advanced to the Sweet 16, the most since 2015, when 13 women head coaches took their teams that deep (three of them are the same: South Carolina’s Dawn Staley, Maryland’s Brenda Freese and Iowa’s Lisa Bluder). Only once in tournament history have all 16 teams been coached by women — the first year, in 1982.
Three of the 12 are Black women — Staley, Ole Miss’ Yolette McPhee-McCuin and Notre Dame’s Niele Ivey — a number that resonates in a sport with 44% Black athletes.
“It’s important just because I have aspirations of wanting to coach,” said Tennessee’s Jordan Walker, a senior guard. “To be able to see Dawn Staley and Coach Yo in those positions it’s just like, wow, little Black girls, they can do it, too. It’s really inspiring. It makes you want to push harder, because the foot is in the doo. With three (Black women) in the Sweet 16 right now, what can it be later down the line?”
– Lindsay Schnell
While Aliyah Boston is easily the most important piece of the Gamecocks roster, she’s not the biggest issue for opposing teams. It’s her teammates.
Boston, along with the rest of the starting five led South Carolina to the overall No. 1 seed and the presumptive favorite to repeat as national champions. Most in women’s basketball — including South Carolina’s Sweet 16 opponent, fourth-seeded UCLA — would love to have even one of the Gamecocks starters on their roster. But they’d also be thrilled to get a reserve.
– Lindsay Schnell
SEATTLE — Another day, another 30-point game from Caitlin Clark.
Iowa’s junior guard, scored 31 and dished eight assists Friday as the second-seeded Hawkeyes advanced to the Elite Eight with an 87-77 win over sixth-seeded Colorado at Climate Pledge Arena.
Colorado had plenty of opportunities to cut into Iowa’s lead but couldn’t capitalize. The Buffs outrebounded Iowa 40-32, and grabbed 21 offensive boards, but they could only turn those into 15 second-chance points (Iowa, meanwhile, scored 11 second-chance points of its own).
– Lindsay Schnell
The game was neck and neck the whole way, but the No. 3 LSU Tigers came out victorious Friday over the No.2 Utah Utes, 66-63. Utah had a chance to take the lead with four seconds left in the game after going on a 7-0 run, but Jenna Johnson missed both of her free throws. LSU’s Alexis Morris sealed the deal and sent the Tigers to their first Elite Eight since 2008 with her own pair of free throws.
– Victoria Hernandez