Women's Basketball 2015 NCAA Tournament Final Four Game Breakdowns

Notre Dame Women's College Basketball

Final Four Game Breakdowns


#1 South Carolina vs #1 Notre Dame (Tampa, Florida)

South Carolina finished its journey to its first ever Final Four in style with a dramatic come from behind 80-74 win over Florida State to win the Greensboro Regional Championship. Tiffany Mitchell led the way for the Gamecocks with 21 points, including a stretch with seven straight points late in the second half. Asia Dozier stepped up with four free throws late to help salt away the victory for South Carolina. The offense as a whole for the Gamecocks was very efficient, shooting over 61.2 percent from the field against the Seminoles. Alaina Coates came in off the bench and took care of business down low in the post and scored 14 points on 6-of-6 shooting from the floor. Bianca Cuevas also gave head coach Dawn Staley some very critical minutes off of the bench, as she scored nine points in nine minutes of action.

Notre Dame outlasted Baylor 77-68 to punch their ticket to their fifth consecutive Final Four. This trip to Tampa for head coach Muffet McGraw and her players is that much sweeter as the Fighting Irish came into this season as a very inexperienced but talented team with a ton of potential. Well, that youth, talent and potential came to the forefront in Oklahoma City. Lindsay Allen scored 28 points in the Regional Semifinal against Stanford and 23 against the Bears to push Notre Dame through to the Final Four once again. The offense was outstanding even with Jewell Loyd struggling from the field. The Fighting Irish shot 47.6 percent from the field, including 71.4 percent from behind the three-point line. Defensively, Notre Dame took advantage of Baylor’s foul trouble and shut down the Bears offensively by limiting them to 35.3 percent shooting from the floor. The battle of the boards was another big reason why the Fighting Irish knocked off Baylor. They outrebounded the Bears 43-38 with Brianna Turner and Taya Reimer combining for 18 rebounds on Sunday night.

For South Carolina to advance to the national championship game it is going to be very important that they just play their game at both ends of the court. It could be very easy for them to just be happy to be at the Final Four and feel like they are playing with house money. However, with Dawn Staley in charge, who played in three final fours as a player at Virginia, her experience and leadership is going to be a difference maker mentally for the Gamecocks. Tiffany Mitchell is also going to have to embrace the challenge of going up against Jewell Loyd and Lindsey Allen and be prepared to score at least 20 points to take the pressure off of her teammates. For Notre Dame, they will need to be better at the foul line. They shot only 50 percent in the Elite Eight against Baylor. Jewell Loyd is going to have get some confidence building shots early and Lindsay Allen is going to have to continue her run of dominance offensively to keep the Gamecocks from getting too comfortable defensively. This game should go down to the wire and South Carolina will find a way to win another close game and punch their ticket to their first national championship.


#1 Connecticut vs #1 Maryland (Tampa, Florida)

Connecticut had a nice test in the Elite Eight against Dayton. The Flyers went into the locker room at halftime with a 44-43 lead. But the Huskies defensively had too much for Dayton in the second half and they pulled away for a 91-70 victory to win the Albany Regional. Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 27 points and set the NCAA record for most three point shots made in a career with 395. Connecticut did what you are supposed to when challenged by an underdog; they put the hammer down defensively in the second half to gain back control of the game. It was a 15-3 run by the Huskies over the first 6:04 of the second half and that was the difference maker. But give Dayton credit. They played hard, executed well early and did not play scared against Connecticut. This approach by the Flyers needs to be emulated by more teams that play the Huskies in order for the sport of women’s college basketball to achieve any semblance of parity.

Maryland was pushed to the limit by Tennessee in the Spokane Regional as they needed a late run to pull away from the Lady Volunteers for a 58-48 victory. The Terrapins made school history with this win as for the first time ever they will be playing in consecutive Final Fours. Lexie Brown stepped up big late in the second half and made some very critical shots. Defensively, Maryland stayed relentless against Tennessee and were able to wear down the Lady Volunteers. Brionna Jones nearly had a double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing nine rebounds. In addition, the ability of the Terrapins to lock down Tennessee’s perimeter shooting was a difference maker as the Lady Volunteers shot just 18.2 percent from behind the three point line.

The keys against Maryland for Connecticut will be to try and start fast and impose their will defensively on the Terrapins. If they can force Maryland to become a jump shooting team that can’t get in rhythm, then they should be able to pull away early and win going away. The other key is to get Breanna Stewart and Morgan Tuck rolling inside so they can get Brionna Jones in foul trouble. The Terrapins aren’t loaded with depth down in the post. The keys for Maryland against Connecticut are going to be the backcourt of Laurin Mincy, Lexie Brown and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough. If these three can hit some open perimeter shots like Dayton did in the first half against the Huskies then they can at least keep the Connecticut defense uncomfortable. They also are going to need to keep Brionna Jones out of early foul trouble so she can at least keep things competitive down in the low post against the size and athleticism of the Huskies front line. Overall, Connecticut is the better team and should win this matchup comfortably, but Maryland can at least keep it competitive into the second half before the Huskies pull away to win by about 15-18 points.


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