Women's Basketball 2014 NCAA Tournament Final Four Game Breakdowns

2014 NCAA Tournament Final Four Game Breakdowns


#1 Connecticut vs. #2 Stanford (Nashville, Tennessee)

The Connecticut Huskies return to the Final Four the seventh consecutive season after beating Texas A&M 69-54 on Monday night in the Elite Eight to win the Lincoln Regional. The Huskies played better for 40 minutes than they did in the Sweet 16 against BYU on both ends of the court. For example, Connecticut limited the Aggies to just 4-of-9 shooting from the free throw line, which means they did an excellent job of making Texas A&M work for everything that they got offensively. In addition, they did a nice job with rebounding from a defensive perspective as they outrebounded the Aggies 30-23 to offset giving up 17 offensive rebounds. Offensively, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis earned the Lincoln Regional’s Most Outstanding player award with a team leading 17 points and gathered seven rebounds. Stefanie Dolson was excellent at both ends of the court as well in making her 150th career start and came ever so close to a triple-double as she scored 14 points, had ten rebounds and blocked eight shots.

Stanford returns to the Final Four after taking North Carolina’s best shot early in the Stanford Regional Final. The Cardinal in the second half though were locked in and pulled away from the Tar Heels in a 74-65 victory on Tuesday night. Stanford did a great job of taking advantage of being at home, using the enthusiastic support to its advantage and not allowing themselves to be denied. Mikaela Ruef was once again a key in the Cardinal victory as she scored 17 points and collected nine rebounds to compliment a very balanced attack for Stanford. The backcourt was also outstanding in the victory as Amber Orrange chipped in 14 points as well. The Cardinal definitely are peaking at the right time heading into the national semifinal showdown against the Huskies.

The keys for Connecticut in this contest are to come out fast and make someone else besides Ogwumike beat them in a similar fashion to the first match up this season. Also, Bria Hartley was a huge factor in the first matchup as she was 9-of-13 shooting from the floor. If Hartley can shoot with that level of efficiency, the Huskies will be even more dangerous to deal with than they already are. For Stanford, they need to play aggressive and loose with nothing to lose when taking the court against Connecticut. The balanced scoring also needs to continue as the Huskies are not going to fear Ogwumike at all and are going to dare the Cardinal to have other players like Ruef, Orrange and Bonnie Samuelson step up and beat them. This game should be fairly competitive deep into the second half, but the difference is going to be depth in talent for Connecticut. They will ride the hot play of Mosqueda-Lewis, and Breanna Stewart will rise to the occasion once again to the national championship game on Tuesday night.


#1 Notre Dame vs. #4 Maryland (Nashville, Tennessee)

This is a rematch from what was the toughest and closest game that Notre Dame played this entire season back on January 27. The Fighting Irish edged the Terrapins 87-83 on that Monday night in College Park thanks to a fabulous performance by Jewell Loyd.

Notre Dame has rolled over their opponents for the most part in the NCAA Tournament, including an 88-69 victory over Baylor in the Elite Eight to punch their ticket to Nashville. However, the Fighting Irish did suffer a significant loss with forward Natalie Achonwa going down with an ACL injury with less than five minutes to play against the Bears. Notre Dame has played games without Achonwa earlier this season and found ways to win so this not completely foreign territory for this team. In fact during the first matchup with Maryland, Achonwa only played about half of the contest and Notre Dame got the win despite not being able to stop Alyssa Thomas of the Terrapins. She scored 29 points and had 12 rebounds in that game. The key is going to be freshman Taya Reimer stepping up and embracing the big stage and at least battling Thomas all game long and making her work for every shot and rebound she gets. Another key is going to be Loyd and Kayla McBride. They should be able to carry the scoring load for the Fighting Irish and get the tempo of the game into the high 70s.

Maryland comes into the Final Four by taking care of Tennessee and then held off a Louisville comeback on the Cardinals home floor. Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel missed a three-point shot to tie the game and the Terrapins moved on to the Final Four with a 76-73 victory. Maryland is led by Alyssa Thomas who is averaging a double-double this season and is arguably the top inside post type of player in the nation. She was named to the Wooden all-American team this week. The backcourt has done a nice job in the NCAA Tournament as well. In the Louisville game, the backcourt duo of Lexie Brown and Katie Rutan combined for 32 points and were lethal from behind the three-point arc. This team is battle tested from the grind of the ACC and, under the leadership of head coach Brenda Frese, they don’t fear anyone and will be ready for another shot at Notre Dame.

Notre Dame can win this matchup if they dominate in the backcourt get the tempo up at their pace and get a total team effort with the loss of Achonwa. There is no denying the loss will have an impact on the Fighting Irish. But this team did not go undefeated relying on just one player, so if they are in the proper frame of mind on Sunday, which they should be, they will be right there late in the second half with a great chance to win. Maryland just needs to keep doing what they have been doing in the postseason and play fearless. If they play fearless and attack Notre Dame then they will pull off the upset and move on to the national championship game. The Terrapins find a way to get the upset and will beat Notre Dame 79-77.


Tournament Central