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Around the NCAAW Weekly: South Carolina, Stanford and NC State take home titles

The South Carolina Gamecocks won the SEC Tournament, the Stanford Cardinal won the Pac-12 Tournament and the NC State Wolfpack won the ACC Tournament. The Belmont Bruins (Ohio Valley) and Mercer Bears (Southern) also punched tickets to the Big Dance.

NCAA Womens Basketball: SEC Conference Tournament-South Carolina vs Georgia
Aliyah Boston is 2-of-2 at winning the SEC Tournament championship.
Dawson Powers-USA TODAY Sports

“Around the NCAAW Weekly” highlights the notable events of the week. Check out the milestones, surprises, best games and outstanding performances for games played through Sunday, March 7:


Conference championships

Tournament

No. 7 South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks won the SEC Tournament championship on Sunday and their coach Dawn Staley, along with Georgia Bulldogs coach Joni Taylor, became the first Black head coaches to face each other in the conference’s title game. South Carolina sophomore center Aliyah Boston was named tournament MVP. With their win in the quarterfinals on Friday, the Gamecocks notched their 10th 20-win season under Staley.

No. 4 Stanford Cardinal

The Cardinal won the Pac-12 Tournament championship with a blowout victory over the UCLA Bruins in the title game on Sunday. Senior guard Kiana Williams was named tournament MVP.

Stanford has made 18 of the 20 championship games to ever take place in the Pac-12 Tournament and is 14-4 in those games. The Cardinal are 11-1 against the Bruins in the history of the tournament and have defeated them in the title game four times. Stanford is the Pac-12 Tournament champion fo the third time in five years.

No. 3 NC State Wolfpack

The Wolfpack defeated Louisville in a thriller on Sunday to capture their first back-to-back ACC Tournament titles ever. Elissa Cunane was named tournament MVP.

Belmont Bruins

The No. 2-seed Bruins defeated the No. 1-seed UT Martin Skyhawks to win the Ohio Valley Tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Skyhawks are no longer in ESPN’s projected bracket, while the Bruins have settled in as a No. 14 seed.

Mercer Bears

The Bears were also the No. 2 seed in their tournament and defeated No. 4-seed Wofford in the championship game for the Southern Conference. 1-seed Samford is out of ESPN’s projected bracket while Mercer is in as a 16-seed and no matter what has punched its ticket to the Big Dance.

Regular-season

No. 8 Maryland Terrapins

The Terps clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season title by defeating the Michigan Wolverines on Thursday and then went ahead and won the championship outright with a win over the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday. Maryland has won six Big Ten regular season championships in seven years.

No. 6 Baylor Lady Bears

The Lady Bears won the Big 12 regular-season championship outright on Monday by defeating the Texas Longhorns. They have now won 11-straight regular-season titles — more in a row than any other team in the nation currently and fifth-most in a row all-time.

No 15 South Florida Bulls

The Bulls won the AAC regular-season title for the first time ever with a win over the Central Florida Knights on Tuesday. Bethy Mununga reached 500 rebounds in two years at South Florida in the victory and teammate Shae Leverett reached 100 career blocks.

Games of the week

Friday: Syracuse Orange 68, Florida State Seminoles 67

Kamilla Cardoso made a layup at the buzzer for Syracuse, which will take the ACC Tournament quarterfinals victory and hope for an 8-seed in the NCAA Tournament, which is where ESPN is currently projecting them. The Orange came back from down 14 after one by winning the second by two, the third by nine and the fourth by four. Cardoso led the way with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Bianca Jackson scored 25 points and dished out seven assists in defeat.

Sunday: NC State Wolfpack 58, Louisville Cardinals 56 (ACC Tournament championship)

Raina Perez made the clutch game-winning jumper with two seconds left and ACC Player of the Year Dana Evans (15 points) missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer on the other end for Louisville. The Wolfpack trailed by eight with 8:58 remaining. Elissa Cunane led NC State with 20 points and nine rebounds.

Sunday: South Carolina Gamecocks 67, Georgia Bulldogs 62 (SEC Tournament championship)

Aliyah Boston starred in this one with 27 points and 10 rebounds and South Carolina held on after she iced the game with two free throws at the 13-second mark of the fourth. Que Morrison (20 points, eight rebounds) had made a triple for the Bulldogs with 15 ticks left, which cut the Gamecocks’ lead to three. South Carolina trailed by six after one. Destanni Henderson added 18 points, nine boards and three assists for the winners.

Milestones/accomplishments

No. 1 UConn Huskies

On Sunday, UConn reached its conference tournament final for the 17th season in a row. It has won seven in a row, but hasn’t won the Big East since 2012. UConn is 159-0 in conference contests since losing to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2013 Big East championship.

The Huskies haven’t missed out on the semifinals for their conference since 1988.

No. 14 Tennessee Lady Volunteers

Rennia Davis scored 20-plus points for the sixth time in a row on Friday. Though she was held under 20 points on Saturday, the streak of six-straight made her the first Tennessee player to accomplish the feat since Candace Parker in 2007. In addition, the Lady Vols reached 1,400 wins on Friday, the most out of any program in NCAAW Division I history.

No. 23 Missouri State Lady Bears

The Lady Bears (16-0 MVC, 11-0 on road) secured their first undefeated conference season ever on Saturday and also went undefeated on the road for the first time ever. They are the fifth MVC/Gateway Conference team to go undefeated in league play.

No. 10 Indiana Hoosiers

Indiana finished the Big Ten regular season with a program-record 16 conference wins. The Hoosiers also completed a season sweep of the Iowa Hawkeyes for the first time since 1993-94 on Wednesday.

No. 16 Georgia Bulldogs

Georgia senior Jenna Staiti reached 1,000 career points on Friday. She also has over 500 rebounds and over 150 blocks in her career. Only eight players in Bulldog history have reached those heights in those three categories.

Streak tracker

Aari McDonald of the Arizona Wildcats - 87-straight games in double-figure scoring

Surprises

Butler Bulldogs over No. 25 DePaul Blue Demons (Monday)

The Bulldogs (3-17, 3-15 Big East) are No. 275 in the NET. DePaul is No. 70. This was a regular-season game.

Omaha Mavericks over No 21 South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Saturday)

The Mavericks (6-12, 4-8 Summit, No. 222 NET) upset the Jackrabbits (No. 46 NET) in the quarterfinals of the Summit League Tournament, holding them to 40 points. South Dakota State was perfect in the Summit League regular season.

Ole Miss Rebels over No 13 Arkansas Razorbacks (Thursday)

The Rebels (11-11, 4-10 SEC, No. 42 NET) advanced to the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament with this win and moved themselves higher on ESPN’s bubble for the NCAA Tournament. However, they lost to the Tennessee Lady Volunteers in the quarterfinals. Arkansas is No. 20 in the NET.

TCU Horned Frogs over Oklahoma Sooners (Thursday)

Oklahoma (12-11, 9-9 Big 12, No. 67 NET) is now part of the “next four out,” according to ESPN, after this loss. TCU (9-14, 4-14 Big 12) is No. 99 in the NET.

Clemson Tigers over Notre Dame Fighting Irish (Thursday)

Clemson (11-13, 5-12 ACC, No. 65 NET) advanced to the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament with this win and may have knocked Notre Dame (10-10, 8-7 ACC, No. 55 NET) out of the NCAA Tournament.

Oregon State Beavers over No 19 Oregon Ducks (Thursday)

The Ducks (No. 10 NET) continued their slump while playing without Te-Hina Paopao in this Pac-12 Tournament quarterfinal matchup. Oregon State (No. 36 NET) went on to lose to Stanford in the semifinals.

Villanova Wildcats over No. 25 DePaul Blue Demons (Saturday)

The Blue Demons continued their slide with this loss in the Big East quarterfinals. The loss to Butler was particularly impactful as DePaul is still projected by ESPN to make the NCAA Tournament but is on the bubble. Villanova is No. 76 in the NET.

No. 16 Georgia Bulldogs over No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies (Saturday)

With this win, Georgia made it to its first SEC title game since 2004, though it went on to lose to the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Central Florida Knights over No. 15 South Florida Bulls (Thursday)

The Knights are tied with the Bulls at 12-2 in the AAC, but are unranked and this was still a bit of a surprise in the regular-season finale for both.

COVID/other news

Auburn Tigers

The Tigers fired head coach Terri Williams-Flournoy after a 5-19 (0-15 SEC) season. Williams-Flournoy was 140-138 (48-96 SEC) in nine years at Auburn.

Other top performances

Alexus Dye: 37 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks for the Troy Trojans in an overtime win over the Texas State Bobcats on Saturday.

Cece Hooks: 33 points, 10 rebounds and seven steals for the Ohio Bobcats in a loss to the Akron Zips on Wednesday.

Kiara Smith: 36 points, nine rebounds and two steals for the Florida Gators in a loss to the Kentucky Wildcats on Thursday.

Caitlin Clark: 35 points, eight rebounds and four assists for the Iowa Hawkeyes in a win over the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday.

Rennia Davis: 33 points and 14 rebounds for the Tennessee Lady Volunteers in a win over the Ole Miss Rebels on Friday.

AP rankings (March 8)

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights are the biggest risers this week, up from No. 24 to No. 19. The No. 12 Georgia Bulldogs and No. 17 West Virginia Mountaineers rose four and three spots, respectively, while the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles entered the rankings at No. 24.

It was not a strong showing for some of the teams ranked in the bottom half of the Top 25, as the DePaul Blue Demons fell from No. 25 to receiving just five voting points, the South Florida Bulls fell five spots to No. 20, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits fell four spots to No. 25 and the Oregon Ducks fell four spots to No. 23.

UConn remains at No. 1 in the AP poll, though Stanford is now the No. 1 overall seed in ESPN’s projected bracket. Stanford has moved up two spots to No. 2 in the AP poll, while the NC State Wolfpack remain at No. 3.

Best upcoming matchup

Big Ten Tournament championship game

TBD vs. TBD

When: Saturday, March 13, at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, IN

How to watch/listen: ESPNU

Reason to watch: Four of the Big Ten’s five ranked teams will be participating in the tournament and the championship game should be an exciting one.