It will be UCONN and Notre Dame in the championship. The semifinals saw two games, contrasting in pace and ‘drama'. The scores:
Notre Dame 66 South Carolina 65
UCONN 81 Maryland 58
In the opener Notre Dame and South Carolina were involved in a faster paced affair.
Possessions: Notre Dame 71 South Carolina 70
Offensive efficiency: South Carolina 93 Notre Dame 92
South Carolina won. The efficiency. Studies have shown the team leading in efficiency wins the game 95-97% of the time. To add to Dawn Staley's disappointment of being ever so close, the Gamecocks had the slightest edge in offensive efficiency.
The factor(s) of note: Notre Dame had an excellent 14% TO rate. South Carolina led 37-26 in offensive rebounding percentage. That edge extended possessions and contributed to the Gamecocks outscoring the Irish 48-32 in the paint.
UCONN broke open an 11 point half time lead early after intermission and never looked back. The pace and efficiency.
Possessions: Maryland 64, UCONN 62
Efficiency: UCONN 131 Maryland 91
Huskies, the only team of the four to hit the century mark in offensive efficiency and they dominated on that end.
The factor(s) of note: UCONN ‘swept' the Four Factors. Outstanding was their eFG percentage of 61%. UCONN shot 8 of 22 from three for 36%. A scary note, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis was not a factor as the UCONN standout was a quiet 1 of 8 (4 points) from the floor. She was heard in other areas handing out a game high 7 assists against one turnover.
A'ja Wilson, a 6-5 freshman, starred for South Carolina scoring a team high 20 points within outstanding 30 efficiency. Brianna Stewart of UCONN had the highest efficiency of the two semifinals at 33. Stewart scored a game high 25 points adding 3 assists and 4 blocks. She shot 7 of 13 from the floor.
The championship featuring Muffet McGraw's 36-2 Notre Dame and UCONN coached by Geno Auriemma, going for national title number 10, has a host of storylines. A priority will be action in the lane.
As noted South Carolina had success against the Irish in the paint. UCONN enjoyed a 40-26 edge over Maryland in that close scoring proximity. Interior defense will be a priority for ND. Stay tuned for a good one.