Added: Samantha Kreitzer - Date: 27.11.2021 00:25 - Views: 43267 - Clicks: 939
Stanford and South Carolina battle in the final minute, as the Gamecocks miss out on a buzzer-beating winner by inches. Two No. Now two Pac teams are headed to Sunday's national championship game. Behind a smothering defense and 26 points from senior point guard Aari McDonald, third-seeded Arizona upset No. Paige Bueckers had 18 points and wrapped up her freshman season with points in the NCAA tournament.
Stanfordthe overall No. It's the first time two Pac teams will face off in the final, and the first championship game featuring two schools west of the Mississippi River since Just 0. Of those brackets, The Cardinal went against the Wildcats in the regular season. How will that impact the title game? Can Arizona pull another upset? Creme: The Wildcats will be fine heading into Sunday's title game because they take their cues from coach Adia Barnes, who seems calm and confident all the time.
Her demeanor never seemed to change on the sidelines against UConn. For 40 minutes she gave off an air of positivity. Barnes' relaxed approach to every huddle kept her team in the moment. The Wildcats seemed to be enjoying what they were doing rather than thinking about what it meant. That all comes from Barnes. Arizona did something Friday that most thought impossible -- hold the Huskies to fewer than 60 points. There might not have been one moment in this game when it felt like the Huskies were going to win. Arizona controlled this game from the outset and did it with defense.
It also helps to have the tournament's best player to lean upon when a play needs to be made. Having a player rolling like McDonald takes the pressure off everyone else. Her two early 3-pointers sent a message to not only the Huskies, but also her teammates. A wave of confidence flowed through the entire team after that.
McDonald's play all night and her 26 total points helped keep that optimism high.
While I am confident Arizona will have plenty of energy for the championship game, history can always find a caveat. InMississippi State executed a great defensive game plan against UConn in the Final Four, held the Huskies to 64 points in a stunning overtime upset -- and couldn't recover for the championship game. The Bulldogs looked gassed two nights later, and South Carolina beat them fairly easily for the title.
The difference here is how Arizona won. The Wildcats weren't fighting UConn on every possession in the fourth quarter like Mississippi State was. They also didn't win the game on a buzzer-beating shot like the one the Bulldogs' Morgan William hit. Arizona was clearly the better team on Friday night for the entire 40 minutes. Adelson: Charlie is right.
Arizona was the better team and showed it within the first five minutes against the Huskies. The Wildcats played with a confidence about them, with an aggressiveness and superiority that a team like UConn usually plays with at this point in the season. The Wildcats took it to them from the beginning, and when the Huskies didn't respond, Arizona kept going even harder.
That is why this is a team that is so fun to watch, and so easy to root for.
Who doesn't love an underdog story? Yes, Barnes is cool and calm and rarely betrays what she is feeling or thinking on the sideline, but there are also glimpses of what makes her someone her players love so much, like when she used some choice language late in the game in the huddle to tell her players to forget all their haters.
That just makes the Wildcats go that much harder. So will they have gas in the tank? There is something to be said for gaining confidence and momentum during a tournament run like the one Arizona has had this year.
Barnes said as much in her postgame news conference, when she said her team became more united in San Antonio. She also mentioned slights along the way -- beyond getting left out of the NCAA Final Four promotional video -- that have only served to motivate her team. Something tells me she is going to bring up the of their two games against Stanford this year to put a little bit more fire into her team before Sunday night. Voepel: I do have to say it's almost eerie how much this is like -- an underdog team knocking off UConn in the semifinals and then having to face a team from its own conference in the national championship game.
As Charlie said, Mississippi State looked pretty worn out when it faced South Carolina for the title four years ago. But then-Bulldogs coach Vic Schaefer took a lot of blame for that. He said later that he felt that he didn't get his team enough rest before the championship game. Barnes understands her team, and as a former player for many years, she has a good feel for how to gauge if they're well-rested enough.
I think it will be a battle Sunday, and I guarantee the Cardinal think that, too. Arizona celebrates as UConn misses the final shot to seal a win to advance to the national championship. Voepel: Stanford has been a great 3-point shooting team all season. The Cardinal entered Friday's game averaging 9. South Carolina, making five. Stanford was averaging Stanford managed to pull out the one-point win against the Gamecocks even without one of its main weapons.
But it will likely be a major focus of Stanford in the national championship game. Kiana Williams has been Stanford's leading 3-point shooter this season, but she had a rough night shooting Friday, going 4-of from the field and missing her only 3-point attempt. Hannah Jump is the Cardinal's second best from long range, with 57 this season.
But Jump played only two minutes Friday, which is reflective of Stanford's depth and the fact that she probably wasn't the best matchup defensively with South Carolina. So First time tonight i need to be with a women could be a different-looking game Sunday against Arizona, and 3-pointers could be a much bigger factor for the Cardinal. Creme: The rebounding is important because it can set up so many other areas that make Stanford so good. The transition game, controlling the tempo, creating more opportunities, even many of those 3-point shots come as a result of controlling the glass.
Stanford finished the game with 24 second-chance points, matching the total that the Gamecocks had allowed in their first four NCAA tournament games combined. That's the stat that had the biggest impact on the game. Stanford turned those trips down the floor into longer possessions. That put increased pressure on the South Carolina defense and removed pressure on Stanford to make every play perfect. Look at how aggressively Lexie Hull kept driving to the basket. She ended up 4-of from the field, but she was confident that the Cardinal could get to any misses.
The single biggest play of the game was a second-chance opportunity with 32 seconds remaining. Haley First time tonight i need to be with a women recovered one of those Hull misses on a drive to the basket and made a footer that ended up being the game's final points and difference-maker. It's not a strategy Stanford can depend on against Arizona; you can't plan on getting so many second-chance opportunities.
Even in two comfortable wins over the Wildcats during the regular season, the Cardinal totaled 19 second-chance points. Rebounding will still be a huge key. The more possessions Stanford has, the less time McDonald will have her hands on the ball for Arizona.
Adelson: I also expect the game against Arizona to look different than it did against South Carolina, and I believe the Cardinal's 3-point shooting might end up being the biggest key. The Huskies entered the game averaging more than 42 points in the paint this season. When things are not First time tonight i need to be with a women well inside, outside shooting has to be the key to opening everything up.
But UConn couldn't really do that, either, hitting only five 3-pointers. So if Arizona has similar success against Stanford inside, popping some 3s will be a huge key. If she keeps hitting from 3 the way that she has ofStanford is going to have to find ways to keep up. Adelson: Stanford remains the favorite, but I expect this game to be closer than the first two matchups -- not only because McDonald has found her groove and Arizona as a group has gained confidence. Barnes said something in her postgame news conference after the UConn win that really stuck with me: "Being like a top team or being a top team, it's a little bit harder than it is to be an unranked team chasing and trying to get wins," Barnes said.
She felt all the pressure was on UConn, and her team could play freer and looser. In the national championship game, all the pressure will once again be on the opponent. Stanford is the No. This is not the same Arizona team that it played and beat this year, and Stanford cannot afford to overlook the Wildcats for that reason.
I anticipate this will be a much better defensive effort from Arizona, based on what we have seen throughout the tournament. Creme: Stanford still has to be considered the favorite. Those were convincing wins, and the Cardinal's defense was the story in both. But anyone who has been watching this tournament can tell this is a different Arizona team than the one that was playing in February.
And the reason is pretty simple: McDonald's shooting. In Arizona's past three games, against No. She averaged The opponents have gotten better, but McDonald has as well.
If Arizona is to win on Sunday, her fortunes against the Cardinal will have to take an even greater jump forward. Stanford had a formula to slow her down. In the two regular-season meetings, McDonald combined to shoot for from the field and 1-of from 3-point range, scoring a total of 32 points. Her shooting range seems to have jumped back about 5 feet in the past three weeks, but Cardinal guards Anna Wilson and Kiana Williams should be able to push McDonald back a bit further because the fear of getting beat off the dribble shouldn't be as great with the length Stanford has on the back end of its defense.
Cameron Brink, a 6-foot-4 freshman forward, displayed how well she can protect the basket with six blocks against South Carolina. At 6-foot-5, sophomore Ashten Prechtel can be a problem for Arizona, too. Sunday's final score should be closer as well, but defense will continue to be the storyline.First time tonight i need to be with a women
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Early predictions for the women's NCAA championship game: Stanford, Arizona to meet in all-Pac final