Bears, Irish reach Final 4
NCAA Women's Tournament: Greensboro Regional - Baylor 85, Iowa 53; Chicago Regional - Notre Dame 84, Stanford 68
GREENSBORO, N.C. — Maybe someone at the Final Four will actually give Baylor a game.
Four rounds into the NCAA Tournament, and the Bears have barely faced any resistance.
Baylor cruised to its first Final Four since 2012 with its latest bracket blowout, this one an 85-53 rout of Iowa on Monday night in the Greensboro Regional final.
Lauren Cox had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Didi Richards added 16 points and 10 rebounds and Chloe Jackson had 14 points.
The No. 1 overall-seeded Bears (35-1) won their 27th straight game by shooting 53%, clamping down on All-American Megan Gustafson and her supporting cast and holding the nation’s best shooting team to a season-worst 32%.
“We don’t know that we’re going to score this many points every night,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “What we do know is, we’re going to defend you. … That’s the way I was taught. That’s the way I believe. … Nobody likes to be guarded for 40 minutes. It’s work. It’s hard.”
Their four tournament victories have come by an average of more than 38 points with none closer than 25. Now, it’s on to Tampa, Florida, for the school’s fourth Final Four and its first in seven years, when the Bears won their second national championship.
The 6-foot-4 Cox — selected as the region’s most outstanding player — and fellow twin tower Kalani Brown teamed up to dominate both the glass and the heavily hyped matchup with Gustafson, the nation’s leading scorer at 27.9 points per game.
Brown finished with 14 points, and Baylor held a 47-26 rebounding advantage with 20 second-chance points to six for Iowa.
Gustafson finished with 23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, but was held without a rebound in the second half for second-seeded Iowa (29-7). Kathleen Doyle and Tania Davis each had 10 points.
ND beats Stanford
CHICAGO — Jackie Young scored 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead defending national champion Notre Dame back to the Final Four with an 84-68 victory over Stanford on Monday night.
The top seed in the Chicago Region, Notre Dame (34-3) got some payback for tournament losses to the second-seeded Cardinal (31-5) in 2016 and 2017.
The Fighting Irish are headed to the Final Four for the ninth time and will face UConn in Tampa Bay on Friday in a semifinal rematch from last year. They beat the Huskies and Mississippi State on last-second shots by Arike Ogunbowale to claim their second NCAA title.
Young scored seven points in an 11-2 run to end the third quarter that gave Notre Dame a six-point lead.
Ogunbowale finished with 21 points on 6-of-19 shooting, and the Irish pulled away in the second half for their 13th straight win after struggling to get their high-powered offense going.
AP All-America team
n Napheesa Collier has had an incredible senior year so far, leading UConn back to the Final Four for a 12th consecutive year.
The senior forward averaged 20.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and shot 61.4% during the regular season for the Huskies to earn a spot on The Associated Press women’s basketball All-America team.
She was joined on the All-America team Monday by Iowa’s Megan Gustafson, Oregon’s Sabrina Ionescu, Louisville’s Asia Durr and Mississippi State’s Teaira McCowan. Voting was done before the NCAA Tournament by the 28-member national media panel that votes on the AP Top 25 each week.
Collier received the most votes, garnering 27 first place votes from the panel. She is third on UConn’s all-time scoring list with 2,386 points and third in shooting percentage and fourth in rebounding. The senior forward has been snubbed for many of the other major awards, not being named a finalist.
The second team consisted of Notre Dame’s Arike Ogunbowale, Baylor’s Kalani Brown, California’s Kristine Anigwe, Stanford’s Alanna Smith and Iowa State’s Bridget Carleton.
UConn’s Katie Lou Saumelson headlined the third team. She was joined by Notre Dame teammates Jessica Shepard and Jackie Young, Baylor’s Lauren Cox and Missouri’s Sophie Cunningham.