Cards fall to South Carolina 72-59 in Final Four
(WAVE) - #1 South Carolina got 23 points and 18 rebounds from National Player of the Year Aliyah Boston in a 72-59 win over UofL on Friday night in the NCAA Women’s Final Four in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
The Gamecocks jumped on the Cards early, sprinting out to an 11-2 lead, but UofL settled down.
The Cards went on a 12-0 run in the second quarter. Emily Engstler got one of her four steals and drove in for two of her team-high 18 points to put UofL in front 20-19. Kiana Smith then followed her own miss, banking in a jumper in the lane to make it 22-19.
USC answered with an 11-2 run. Freshman Saniya Rivers glided in for a layup to make it 30-24. They led 34-28 at the half.
The Gamecocks opened the third quarter with a 10-2 run, eventually building the lead to 15 at 51-36 on a Destanni Henderson three-pointer with 5:47 left in the quarter.
UofL closed within 54-48 when Mykasa Robinson hit a jumper in the paint with :27 seconds left, but a turning point came in the final seconds of that quarter. After a Henderson miss, Boston grabbed the offensive rebound, scored and drew the fourth foul on Engstler.
Engtler eventually fouled out with 4:56 left after a Chelsie Hall pass was deflected and stolen.
The Gamecocks held Hailey Van Lith to just nine points. She was 4-11 from the field, and 1-3 from three. Her three-pointer with 35.2 seconds left was the only one UofL hit in the game. The Cards were 1-8.
“I really thought we had some great looks, and just some that went in and out for us at crunch time to cut the lead to four, to two,” UofL head coach Jeff Walz said. “It’s part of it, but I’ve never been prouder of a group.”
“They’ve absolutely been a joy to coach. I told them in the locker room, you don’t ever want to say that’s your favorite team, because then all your past teams get mad at you, but I’d put this group right up there at the top. You start back in the spring and the summer, all the way through April the 1st, and it was just an absolute joy to coach them, to watch them grow as people, watch them grow as individuals, and then to watch us grow as a team. There’s not one second that I regret about it, a damn thing that we did, and I am so proud of these three th. at are sitting here, and we’re going to cherish the moments that we shared together, the games that we played.”
UofL finishes the season 29-5, South Carolina improves to 34-2 and advances to the National Championship game on Monday night at 8 p.m. against either UConn or Stanford
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