Women's Basketball 2016 NCAA Tournament Final Four Game Breakdowns


Sioux Falls Region Sweet Sixteen Game Breakdowns


#1 Connecticut vs. #2 Oregon State

Connecticut withstood a much better effort from Texas in the Bridgeport Regional Final, but the Huskies defeated the Longhorns 86-65. The patience shown by Connecticut in the face of a very physical approach by Texas paid off over the course of the game and they wore the Longhorns down while maintaining a very efficient offensive attack all night long. Morgan Tuck led the way with 22 points, going 9-of-14 shooting the basketball, which is exactly what you want down in the post. Breanna Stewart added 21 points and 13 rebounds for her 15th double-double of the season. Moriah Jefferson was outstanding, especially at the defensive end of the court and was all over the Longhorn guards and did not allow them to take control of the game. The ability to respond to runs by Texas was another huge reason why Connecticut is moving on to its ninth straight Final Four. When the Longhorns cut the lead to 30-25 early in the second half, the Huskies responded by going on a 16-6 run to close the first half. Texas continued to battle in the second half, but after the score got to 54-42, Connecticut put the hammer down and pulled away for another convincing victory.


Oregon State will be making its first trip to the women’s Final Four after outlasting Baylor 60-57 on Monday night down at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The Beavers were undaunted by a pro Bears crowd as they were just under two hours away from campus in Waco, Texas. Thanks to some clutch shooting by Jamie Weisner and Sydney Wiese in the first half, Oregon State was able to bust out to 34-25 lead at halftime. In the second half, things got a bit dicier as foul trouble became issue. Ruth Hamblin had to play extremely disciplined during the final half of the fourth quarter as she held on and avoided her fifth foul. Shooting from the behind the three-point line became much more problematic for the Beavers. Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey cranked up the full court pressure defense in the third and fourth quarter. However, like a mature battle tested team, Oregon State withstood the comeback of the Bears and found a way to make key shots within the final three seconds of the shot clock and get the job done when it counted the most. Bottom line, the schedule that head coach Scott Rueck laid out for his team, especially during non-conference play, set Oregon State up perfectly to be able to deal with a hostile environment of a regional final like Dallas provided.


There are several keys to watch in this matchup between the Huskies and Beavers. First, for Connecticut they have got to get Tuck and Stewart going down low and attack Hamblin so they can get her into early foul trouble. Also, patience will be a virtue for the Huskies since Oregon State will play a very disciplined style and probably dare Connecticut to beat them from the perimeter, especially in the early stages of the game. Look for Katie Lou Samuelson and Moriah Jefferson to try and get into a rhythm early by knocking some down threes, which will then open things up in the paint for Tuck and Stewart to go to work. For the Beavers, they also have to get Sydney Wiese and Jamie Weisner going early because you bet Geno Auriemma is going to try and eliminate the perimeter offense of Oregon State as much as possible and dare both Wiese and Weisner to attack the basket. Defensively, they just have to stay disciplined and guard aggressively like they have all season and take their chances. Overall, this game is going to provide a fun display of defensive basketball by both teams.



#4 Syracuse vs. #7 Washington

Syracuse joined the Final Four party on Sunday with an 89-67 win over Tennessee to win the Sioux Falls Regional Final and punch their ticket to Indianapolis. The Orange got off to a little bit of a slow start defensively, allowing 22 points in the first quarter. However, from that point on, Syracuse was on point defensively in the second and fourth quarters when they outscored the Lady Vols 47-24. And that was the difference in the outcome. Alexis Peterson continued her fantastic NCAA Tournament against Tennessee, scoring 29 points while contributing six assists, four rebounds and three steals. Brianna Butler was able to keep the Lady Vols stretched out defensively by knocking down 6-of015 three point shots. That was a big key for the Orange as they were 14-of-30 as a team from behind the three-point arc. Briana Day and Brittney Sykes took care of business down in the paint and the duo combined for 13 rebounds and held their own against a very talented Tennessee front line.


Washington continued its run to its first Final Four appearance by starting very fast against Stanford with a 20-5 run to the start the game. The Huskies parlayed that into an 85-76 victory over the Cardinal. This run to the Final Four by Washington is the perfect counterargument to the lazy narrative in the national media that women’s college basketball is not growing because Connecticut is so dominant. The fact that this Final Four has three teams making their first appearance is a testament to what is possible when schools make sound decisions at the head coaching position, recruit great players and develop them. With a big three of Kelsey Plum, Chantel Osahor and Talia Walton playing at their best and key contributions from Katie Collier, Alexus Atchley, Mathilde Gilling and Kelli Kingma during the Stanford game, the Huskies have created an excellent recipe for success in the NCAA Tournament. Now, the challenge for them in this matchup with Syracuse is going to be taking care of the basketball. They did not do a good enough job when they played the Orange and lost 66-62 in Las Vegas earlier in the season. The ability to break the press of Syracuse, let alone handle their zone in the half court, is going to be the difference maker in this game for Washington. If they struggle against the press of the Orange, it could be a very long night for the Huskies in Indianapolis.


Things to watch in this game for Syracuse they are going to have to find a way to slow down Chantel Osahor and not let her go off for a 24 point, 18 rebound performance like she did against Stanford in the Lexington Regional Final. Getting off to a fast start to combat the nerves of playing in their first Final Four is going to be very important for both teams. The Orange jumped out to a 15-6 lead against the Huskies when they played in Vegas and it would be a huge confidence booster for them if they can get off to a similar start in this national semifinal. In Washington’s case, they simply need to continue to be extremely efficient at the offensive end of the floor and start fast as well to get some early confidence since they have fed off getting great starts all postseason long. Kelsey Plum and Alexis Peterson should end up putting on another outstanding offensive display that will cancel each other out on the score sheet. So if Talia Walton can pull off another double-double and Osahor can keep dominating at both ends of the court, that will put the pressure squarely on the Orange to adjust quickly. This game should be more of a 94 foot up and down the court battle with both teams getting well into the 70’s or low 80’s even with the nerves of being first time Final Four participants.



Tournament Central