Women's Basketball 2018 NCAA Tournament Final Four Game Breakdowns

Final Four Game Breakdowns
Louisville was dominant in the Lexington Regional as they cruised past Stanford in the Sweet 16 and quickly dispatched Oregon State 76-43 in the Elite Eight. Asia Durr scored 18 points and Myisha Hines-Allen added 16 points to lead the Cardinals over the Beavers. Louisville will be making their first Final Four appearance since the 2013 season when they lost to Connecticut in the title game. The Cardinals did a phenomenal job of taking the care of the basketball against the Beavers as they only committed three turnovers for the entire game. Louisville also shot 48.4 percent from the floor and took advantage of a 28-12 run in the third quarter to put the game away.
Mississippi State had its challenges in their Elite Eight matchup with UCLA in the Kansas City Regional. The Bulldogs needed a late run in the fourth quarter to pull away from the Bruins for an 89-73 win. Victoria Vivians scored 24 points, while Teaira McCowan added 23 points and gathered 21 rebounds. Morgan William, Roshunda Johnson, and Blair Schaefer combined for 38 points between the three of them as well to round out a balanced scoring attack. The Bulldogs shot 50 percent from the floor including 61.5 percent from the behind the three-point arc, which makes this team close to unbeatable when they shoot like that. Defensively, Mississippi State controlled the rebounding battle as they outrebounded UCLA 39-33 and limited the Bruins to a 37.3 percent field goal percentage.
Keys to victory for the Cardinals will include getting the pace of the game up as high as they can to mitigate having to deal with McCowan in the post. Louisville, like most women’s college basketball teams, can’t get away with playing her one on one. Thus, look for all sorts of changing defenses from Coach Walz throughout the game to try and get McCowan off her game offensively. Asia Durr is going to be key as well as she will need to score about 25 points to take the pressure off the rest of her teammates. Keys to victory for the Bulldogs will start with the senior class, led by Victoria Vivians, that has won 125 games. Morgan William is going to be key in the backcourt for Mississippi State as William hit the shot heard around the basketball world last year in the national semifinal that beat Connecticut. Look for a close tight game that will have plenty of momentum swings and be decided by whoever has the ball for the final shot.
These two teams played each other earlier this season, with the Huskies beat the Fighting Irish 80-71 in Hartford. Connecticut cruised through the Albany Regional, beating the defending national champion South Carolina 94-65 to punch its ticket to the Final Four. Gabby Williams scored 23 points to lead the Huskies. Williams was also named the Albany Regional Most Valuable Player. Crystal Dangerfield added 21 points, Katie Lou Samuelson, Napheesa Collier, and Kia Nurse all scored in double-figures against the Gamecocks. Perimeter shooting set the tone early for Connecticut and they nailed nine of ten three-point shots in the first half.
Notre Dame is back in the Final Four after winning the Spokane Regional by holding off Oregon 84-74 in the Elite Eight. It wasn’t easy to knock out the Ducks as the Fighting Irish had to put together an excellent second half to get the win. Kathryn Westbeld scored 20 points, Arike Ogunbowale added 19 points, and Jessica Shepard had 18 points to pace the Notre Dame offensive attack. Jackie Young came up with 13 rebounds, which was huge for the Fighting Irish. Another big difference in the game was the ability of Notre Dame to get defensive stops in the second half as they limited Oregon to a 25.8 percent field goal percentage in the third and fourth quarter.
For the Huskies in this rematch with the Fighting Irish they will need to have a better start than they did in the first meeting. Notre Dame did lead for over 25 minutes and led by as many as 12 points. Also, Gabby Williams and Napheesa Collier are going to have to dominate inside. If these two can combine for about 30 points and 15 rebounds, then Connecticut will be in great shape. In the backcourt, it will come down to taking care of the basketball and knocking down quality shots early to get the offense in rhythm. Now, for the Fighting Irish, they will need to get production form Westbeld and Young in this game as they combined for only six points in the first meeting. Maintaining poise is also key when the Huskies make one of their textbook 12-2 type of scoring runs. This should be an outstanding game decided by a similar 80-70 type of score.