TIPPING OFF: Other half of Final Four to be decided
ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Half of the Final Four is set and the other two teams will be decided Monday night.
UConn extended its record run of consecutive appearances in the Final Four to 12 and Oregon reached its first national semifinal with victories on Sunday.
Notre Dame, Baylor, Stanford and Iowa will try to join them in Tampa, Florida.
The defending champion Irish will have to beat the Pac-12 Tournament champion Cardinal in the Chicago Regional. Stanford has been to the Final Four 13 times, trailing only Tennessee and UConn. Notre Dame is fifth on the list at eight.
Stanford Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer has been there every step of the way.
“(VanDerveer) is somebody that just is a consistent winner,” Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said. “She gets pretty good players, but she makes them better. I think she’s a great strategist and just has a great mind for the game.”
While Stanford and Notre Dame have reached the Final Four recently, Baylor hasn’t been there since 2012 — the last time the Lady Bears won the national championship. Their opponent, Iowa, hasn’t made it to the Final Four since its lone trip to the Final Four in 1993. The two will play in the Greensboro Regional Final.
“It would be really cool to knock off the overall No. 1 seed,” Hawkeyes forward Hannah Stewart said. “We want to keep going. We want to keep playing. We want to get this team and our coaches to the Final Four.”
Here are a few other tidbits from the Elite Eight:
BATTLE OF THE BIGS
Iowa and Baylor have some of the best post players in the country with the Hawkeyes’ Megan Gustafson and the Lady Bears’ Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox. Gustafson averages a Division I-best 27.9 points. Already with 33 double-doubles this season, she will break the NCAA single-season record with another one.
That could be difficult against Baylor, which has allowed just eight double-doubles all season.
“They’re a great couple of post players, and I just think their level of physicality — they’ve got a couple of inches on me and on Hannah,” Gustafson said of the 6-foot-7 Brown and 6-4 Cox. “We’ve just got to be ready for that physical play.”
A critical strength-vs.-strength matchup will unfold when Iowa has the ball. The Hawkeyes are the best shooting team in the nation, hitting 52 percent of their shots. There’s no defense tougher to shoot against than Baylor’s — the Bears allow opponents to shoot a Division I-low 31.4 percent.
ALL THEY DO IS WIN
McGraw has 920 wins in 37 seasons, with 832 coming at Notre Dame. VanDerveer has 1,067 victories in 40 years — 915 at Stanford. They are part of a small group of coaches with two or more NCAA titles that includes Geno Auriemma, Pat Summitt, Linda Sharp and Kim Mulkey.