The Wildcats have been prepared for the second.
Arizona, a No. 3 seed on this 12 months’s event, surprised No. 1 seed Connecticut 69-59 on Friday night time on the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas, to advance to the national championship game.
Arizona by no means trailed within the game.
“No one thought we’d win. No one thought we’d be here. We don’t care,” Arizona head coach Adia Barnes stated after the game on the ESPN broadcast.
Said Arizona senior guard Aari McDonald, who led all scorers with 26 factors: “We just believed. We worked hard to get here.”
The Wildcats will face a well-known foe in Sunday’s ultimate in fellow Pac-12 staff and No. 1 total seed Stanford, who held off No. 1 seed South Carolina 66-65 earlier within the day. The Cardinal is again within the national championship game for the primary time since 2010.
While the Wildcats are aiming for his or her first national title, Stanford seeks its third, having gained all of it in 1990 and 1992. Both of these titles got here underneath Tara VanDerveer, the winningest head coach in ladies’s basketball historical past.
After Stanford’s win, and earlier than Arizona and UConn took the ground, VanDerveer stated she was pulling for the Wildcats.
“That would be awesome,” she stated. “We’re rooting for Arizona. It would be really exciting to — it’s just I think a credit to how competitive the Pac-12 is.”
Stanford gained each conferences in opposition to Arizona within the common season.
Meanwhile, UConn, an 11-time NCAA champion, was in its thirteenth straight Final Four look and twenty first total — and in addition had guard Paige Bueckers, the primary freshman to win AP ladies’s participant of the 12 months.
And though Bueckers had 18 factors and junior guard Christyn Williams had 20 earlier than fouling out, the Huskies had no reply for Arizona’s McDonald or the Wildcats’ protection.
“I think we came out with the wrong mentality,” Williams stated. “Thought it was going to be easy I guess. We got flustered. They had great ball pressure and it wasn’t like anything that we’ve seen before this season.”
Geno Auriemma was blunt after studying of what Williams stated.
“We have a very immature group. Not just young, but a very immature group. And when we’re high and when we’re on top of the world, we think everything is great. When things don’t go our way, there’s a poutiness about us, there’s a feeling sorry for ourselves about us. You don’t win championships when you’re like that unless you get lucky.”
Stanford survives South Carolina
On Friday, within the Cardinal’s 14th Final Four look, it was a nail biter within the ultimate minute.
A 3-pointer from Destanni Henderson gave South Carolina a 65-64 lead with 38.8 seconds to go. But a Haley Jones jumper gave Stanford the lead again with 32 seconds remaining.
The Gamecocks had one final likelihood to win it on the buzzer, however Aliyah Boston missed the putback after Brea Beal’s layup did not fall.
“To be able to shoot that shot and have it go in for the team, it just means so much because we’ve been through such extraordinary circumstances this year,” Jones, who led Stanford with 24 factors, stated.
“We were on the road for two months,” she continued, alluding to rules in Santa Clara County that stored Stanford away from campus and compelled the Cardinal to relocate for coaching and competitors from November 29 by January 31. “We came back to school. We couldn’t really leave our dorm rooms, couldn’t go to Target to get hair supply or anything like that. We were just on campus.
“It’s been a extremely troublesome 12 months. I believe that would have damaged quite a lot of completely different groups. We have a lot love and respect and belief in each other, this simply means a lot greater than any previous shot, any previous season, any game win that I’ve ever been part of. This simply form of means extra.”
This was South Carolina’s third Final Four appearance in program history, all coming in the last six NCAA tournaments. The Gamecocks won the national title in 2017.
“Every single time that we have had a setback, we have gotten higher,” South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley said after the loss.
“It’s unlucky that this setback might be a complete low season, however we’ll get higher. We will get higher. We can arm ourselves with what we have to reverse us dropping basketball video games on this second, in the way in which that we did.”
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