We got a chance to see half of the Elite Eight field shape up and see how two of the NCAA women's tournament's Cinderellas: Dayton and Gonzaga fare against their toughest opponents yet. While Dayton continued their magical carpet ride, Gonzaga ultimately was unable to keep up. UConn and Maryland also won their games.
Let's take a quick look back on Saturday and see how these games played out.
#1 UConn 105, #5 Texas 54
The Longhorns' post duo of Imani McGee-Stafford and Kelsey Lang have played an instrumental role getting Texas to their first Sweet 16 since 2004. However, they met their match against UConn, when the Huskies started doing Husky things by scoring 13 unanswered points midway through the first half to turn a 26-19 lead to a 39-19 lead. After Celina Rodrigo made a shot, the Huskies scored 11 more points until there was just under two minutes in the half. The assault continued into the second half, but the game was all but decided by then.
So far in this NCAA Tournament, Breanna Stewart hasn't given a signature performance. But that may simply be because she didn't have to. The junior had this monstrous stat line against the Longhorns:
- 31 points on 11 of 16 shooting. This includes two made three-point shots out of three attempts.
- 12 rebounds
- 7 assists and only one turnover
- 2 steals
- 3 blocks
This is about as good as any line as I've seen out of a women's college player. Only three other players: Candice Wiggins of Stanford; Armintie Herrington (née Price) of Ole Miss, and Erica Taylor of Louisiana Tech have scored at least 30 points, grabbed 10 rebounds, and dished 5 assists in an NCAA Tournament game.
In addition, Moriah Jefferson scored a career-high 25 points on 10 of 12 shooting, and all Husky starters scored in double figures. The most telling stat about UConn's win was that Stewart and Jefferson's combined scoring was more than Texas', where only Ariel Atkins scored in double figures with 11 points.
For more reading, check out The UConn Blog's recap here.
#7 Dayton 82, #3 Louisville 66
Andrea Hoover scored 26 points; Jodie Corneli-Sigmundova scored 12, and Amber Deane added 15 more to lead the Flyers into their first ever Elite Eight berth over the Cardinals. The key run that closed this game was in the latter part of the second half, when the Flyers scored 13 straight points from 8:44 to 5:10 left in the game.
The Cardinals were able to force the Flyers to commit 19 turnovers. However, they also allowed Dayton to make 50.9% of their shots, and they only made 31.5% of theirs. Myisha Hines-Allen led all Louisville scorers with 14 points.
With Dayton advancing this far in the tournament, they now face UConn on Monday in the Elite Eight. Can this Cinderella run last against the top team in the country?
#1 Maryland 65, #4 Duke 55
The two rivals may not be in the same conference anymore, but that doesn't tone down the intensity, especially when there's an Elite Eight bid on the line. Laurin Mincy scored 15 points in the first half, and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough added 24 more to lead the Terrapins to their second straight Elite Eight berth.
If there is a key stat which was the difference in this game, it was that Maryland outrebounded Duke 33-24 and out assisted them 17-8 in the game. Furthermore, Duke also had 14 turnovers in the game, and turnovers have been a red flag for them since the start of the tournament. For the Blue Devils, Elizabeth Williams scored 18 points and nine rebounds while Ka'lia Johnson added 14 more.
For more reading, check out Testudo Times' recap by clicking here.
#2 Tennessee 73, #11 Gonzaga 69
The Dayton Flyers may be the Cinderellas of this year's tournament, but this game was the best one of the night.
Despite being behind 57-40 with 6:34 left to go in the second half; the Tennessee Lady Vols made three consecutive and-one baskets to kickstart a 23-6 run to close regulation and force overtime. In addition, they also played full court pressure defense, which rattled the Bulldogs, and this started to show late in regulation and overtime as well. Ultimately, the Lady Vols advanced to the Elite Eight with a close 73-69 win.
The Lady Vols were led by Cierra Burdick who scored 22 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the win. In addition, Ariel Massengale, Jordan Reynolds, and Jaime Nared scored in double digits. Sunny Greinacher scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Bulldogs while Keani Albanez added 20 more.
I know that the Lady Vols were "supposed to beat" Gonzaga simply because they were a 2 seed playing an 11 seed, and looked like they were about tot get run out of Spokane. But this game, and the comeback they had is also a good teaching moment for them. Tennessee faces Maryland on Monday.