It is a rite of spring – Sunday night at the NCAA Women’s Final Four, with the Connecticut Huskies playing the second national semifinal to give ESPN a ratings bump when going up against the season premiere of Mad Men and the other shows that make their way onto the airwaves at this time of year.
CHICAGO – A star-studded lineup featuring 24 of the nation’s best women’s basketball players was on display Wednesday night at the 14th annual McDonald’s All-American Girls Basketball Game at the United Center.
The fans that were there got their money’s worth.
A furious rally in the final moments came up just short for the West All-Stars, as the East All-Stars held on for an 89-87 victory.
It’s the second year the game has been decided by two points. Last year, the West won 80-78 and in 2012, the East won 79-78.
The 2015 WNIT semifinals gave four teams the ability to play college basketball into April. While each of these teams would have loved to be in the NCAA tournament – the revenue created by an NCAA appearance should always make it more valuable than a WNIT invite – the few teams that make a deep WNIT run can say with legitimacy that they have managed to compensate for their absence from the Big Dance.
The Tennessee Volunteers so desperately wanted to get back to the Final Four – for Pat Summitt, for Holly Warlick, and for the sweet relief afforded by stopping a seven-year itch, a long dry spell akin to what Stanford and Tara VanDerveer experienced from 1997 through 2007.
There were the nets. Still attached to the rims, undamaged. The Times Union Center saved fifteen bucks because Connecticut is going to its eighth consecutive Final Four, and Connecticut only cuts down Championship nets. It’s just how it is being Connecticut, where the expectation – not just the goal -- each year is to win it all. And, of course, eight of UConn’s eleven players already cut one down. Seven have done it twice. So there was an on-court celebration, with dancing, smiles, and hats and t-shirts that ironically said “cut the nets.” But nobody climbed up on a ladder.
The WNIT quarterfinals cut in four very different directions on Sunday. Two former Big East rivals played a game that was as contentious as everyone expected it to be, but just when you thought that game would point the way to more nail-biters, the other games on the docket did not offer the same levels of drama. Two road teams won by comfortable margins, while UCLA became the one home team to take care of business in a clean and efficient fashion.
The semifinals are set. Let’s see how Sunday’s four winners won the right to play a game in the month of April.
GREENSBORO, N.C.—Dawn Staley reached the top of the ladder and went about the business of cutting down the most important basketball net in South Carolina women’s basketball history. She lingered for a moment, raising her arms in triumph. “Unbelievable!” she exclaimed.
Indeed, "unbelievable" was the most appropriate word to describe the South Carolina's 80-74 Elite Eight victory over Florida State in the Greensboro Regional of the NCAA Division I Women's Basketball Tournament on Sunday, especially after the Gamecocks trailed for 28 minutes and led for only three.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs will surely never forget what happened to them on Saturday evening in their home city.
The Tennessee Lady Vols don’t yet know how long they’ll remember what they accomplished in Spokane Arena, or how they managed to accomplish it. They will know the answer late Monday night, when the Spokane Regional final ends. Tennessee was ousted by Maryland in the 2014 NCAA tournament.