UConn, Oregon reach women’s Final Four
Katie Lou Samuelson scored 29 points and second-seeded UConn held off No. 1 Louisville 80-73 on Sunday in the Albany Regional Final, extending the Huskies’ record Final Four run to 12 consecutive years.
The Huskies (35-2) have won six national championships and had a 111-game winning streak during their remarkable Final Four run. They will be looking to try and reach the title game for the first time in three years after they have lost on last-second shots in the past two national semifinals.
UConn, which made 14 3-pointers in the game, nearly blew an 11-point lead in the final 1:47 of the game.
Louisville scored 10 of 11 points to cut its deficit to 75-73 with 26.6 seconds left. Samuelson then hit two free throws to make it a two-possession game.
Asia Durr was fouled a few seconds later, but the Cardinals’ senior leader missed both free throws. Napheesa Collier was fouled after the Cardinals’ missed a chance on an offensive rebound. She stepped up and sank both free throws on the other end to make it 79-73.
As the buzzer sounded, the Huskies all mobbed Samuelson at the foul line celebrating another trip to the Final Four.
Louisville (32-4) was looking to become only the second team to beat UConn twice in a season in the past decade, joining fellow ACC school Notre Dame, which did it in 2012 and 2013. The Huskies could face the Irish in the Final Four in Tampa if Notre Dame beats Stanford in the Chicago Regional final on Monday night.
OREGON 88, MISSISSIPPI STATE 84
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Thanks to another stellar performance from Sabrina Ionescu and a lift from a home-state crowd, Oregon is heading to its first women’s Final Four.
Ionescu had 31 points, eight assists and seven rebounds, and the second-seeded Ducks beat No. 1 seed Mississippi State.
Satou Sabally had 22 points and seven rebounds for the Ducks (33-4), who head to Tampa, Florida, to face the winner of Monday’s game between top overall seed Baylor and Iowa.
At the final buzzer, Ionescu jumped into teammate Ruthy Hebard’s arms, and coach Kelly Graves flashed an “O” with his hands to the crowd. The Ducks had been eliminated in the Elite Eight the past two seasons.
Teaira McCowan had 19 points and 15 rebounds in her final game for the Bulldogs (33-3), who had played in the NCAA title game in the past two seasons. Two of Mississippi State’s losses this season were to Oregon, and the first one was a true road game.
This time, Mississippi State just felt like the away team, even though the Bulldogs wore their home whites. Attendance at the Moda Center was announced at 11,534, with the vast majority cheering on the Ducks — a tough draw for a top seed.
Ionescu’s jumper put Oregon up 78-73 with just under three minutes left. After McCowan made a pair of free throws, Ionescu added a 3.
Bre’Amber Scott’s layup with 54 seconds left pulled the Bulldogs within 81-77, but Maite Cazorla answered with a 3-pointer for the Ducks. Jazzmun Holmes’ jumper cut the margin to five points with 26.4 seconds to go, but Mississippi State could not catch up.