March Madness

Women’s March Madness highlights: South Carolina, NC State heading to Final Four

After an exciting conclusion to the Sweet 16 round, the women’s NCAA Tournament moved into the Elite Eight on Sunday with a pair of afternoon games pitting two No. 1 seeds against the No. 3-seeded teams in their region. (In fact, the other two Elite Eight games on Monday will also feature a No. 1 seed vs. a No. 3 seed.)

Undefeated South Carolina (35-0) and coach Dawn Staley earned a trip to their fourth straight Final Four, holding off a late challenge from Oregon State, 70-58, in Albany, New York. In Portland, Oregon, NC State led wire-to-wire and knocked out No. 1 seed Texas, 76-66.

Aziaha James, right, scored 27 points to lead N.C. State to a 76-66 upset of top-seeded Texas in Sunday's NCAA Tournament regional final in Portland, Oregon.

Women’s March Madness games today 

Here is the full schedule for Sunday’s .

NC State knocks out No. 1 Texas behind Aziaha James

N.C. State has returned to the Final Four.

The third-seeded Wolfpack (31-6) defeated No. 1 seed Texas (33-5), 76-66, in the Regional 4 Final on Sunday for the program’s second trip to the national semifinal and first since 1998. For N.C. State and head coach Wes Moore, it was mission accomplished for a team that earned No. 1 seeds in 2021 and 2022 but could not win the region.

N.C. State led wire-to-wire and staved off any Texas comeback attempts by relying on its three-point shooting. At one point in the second half, N.C. State led by 18 points and withstood a Longhorns charge that brought the margin to six in the third quarter. As a team, the Wolfpack went 9 of 18 from beyond the arc.

Aziaha James had 21 of her 27 points in the first 20 minutes and had seven threes – none bigger than the one she nailed with 3:46 left to give N.C. State a 10-point lead. River Baldwin scored all 16 of her points in the second half. The Wolfpack went 19-for-25 from the free-throw line.

Madison Booker had 17 points, six rebounds and five assists to pace Texas.

N.C. State will face South Carolina on Friday in Cleveland.

As the women’s program celebrated, the N.C. State men’s team was in the opening minutes of its own Elite Eight battle against Duke.

Texas makes up some ground vs. NC State

The Longhorns had plenty of ground to make up in the second half if they wanted to make the Final Four and started by cutting the Wolfpack’s lead to single digits at 57-48 going into the fourth quarter.

The Longhorns made five of six shots to close the quarter and were on an 11-3 run to cut the lead to six before Aziaha James (24 points) nailed her sixth 3-pointer of the game. A three from MiMi Collins earlier also gave N.C. State some breathing room.

N.C. State is 8-for-15 from beyond the (disputed, and potentially inaccurate) arc, while the Longhorns only have four attempts from three and relied on going inside for scoring in the third. 

NC State's Aziaha James hits five threes in dominant first half

Someone forgot to tell Aziaha James the 3-point line is mismarked.

The junior NC State guard, who typically shoots just 32.5% from three, was perfect from long-distance in the first half, hitting five treys on her way to 21 points, helping lift the third-seeded Wolfpack to a 43-31 lead over top-seeded Texas at the break.

In addition to James, Mimi Collins also hit her only attempt from deep. Three other NC State attempts from three missed, but when you’re shooting 6-of-9 over the team whose coach is nicknamed “the Secretary of Defense,” it’s a good night.

Besides James, who also grabbed five rebounds, Saniya Rivers scored nine for NC State, and Zoe Brooks chipped in eight. Texas has 10 offensive boards, but that doesn’t matter much when you’re shooting just 34% from the field. NC State, meanwhile, is at 48%.

Texas closed the second quarter by hitting four of five looks to cut the lead to 12 — it had been as much as 18 — but the Longhorns have a tall task ahead of them in the second half. Freshman point Madison Booker, an All-American, leads UT with eight points but she’s just 4-of-13 from the field so far.

Officials find problems with 3-point lines before NC State-Texas

Sunday's women's NCAA Tournament game in Portland, Oregon, took a curious twist before tip-off when officials discovered the 3-point lines weren't the same distance on both sides of the court.

Under NCAA rules adopted in the 2021-22 season, the women's 3-point line was set at 22 feet, 1 3/4 inches. However, the spaces from the top of the key to the 3-point line at the Moda Center appeared to be different. When the NCAA was asked to measure about 30 minutes before top-seeded Texas and No. 3 seed N.C. State were set to tip off, they discovered that was indeed the case. – Read Steve Gardner's story here.

NC State off to fast start vs. Texas

Six points in 44 seconds is one way to take a lead.

NC State finished the first quarter hitting 4-of-4 field goals — while holding Texas to just 2-of-10 from the floor — to take a 19-14 lead going into the second quarter. Saniya Rivers' pretty pull-up at the end of the first period put the cap on an 8-2 run from the third-seeded Wolfpack.

But the real star of the first quarter was NC State guard Aziaha James, who already has 10 — yes, 10 — points, hitting 4-of-6 looks, including both tries from the (maybe mismarked) 3-point line.

One troubling trend for the Wolfpack, though: Texas already has seven offensive boards, and has scored four points off those second chances. NC State will have to get on the glass — and cut down on turnovers, where the Wolfpack already has five — if it wants to win this game.

Opinion: Why South Carolina is never truly threatened

ALBANY, N.Y. — South Carolina sucks the oxygen out of the room and the hope from an opponent’s heart.

With a roster so deep you can barely see the end of it, South Carolina is never truly in trouble. Oh, an opponent might think so, staying within striking distance and feeling as if they can overtake the Gamecocks with another bucket or two.

Little do they know South Carolina is just biding its time. Until BOOM! The Gamecocks take off on a run and their opponent is left wondering what the heck just happened and checking for tread marks on their back.

Take Sunday’s game against Oregon State. Read Nancy Armour’s columnhere.

South Carolina reaches fourth straight Final Four

The quest for a perfect season continues for the South Carolina Gamecocks.

South Carolina used its depth and aggressiveness on the boards to hold off Oregon State for a 70-58 victory in the Albany 1 regional final.

South Carolina led by 12 at the start of the final period, but Oregon State clawed its way back to cut the margin to four with just under four minutes to play. However, the Beavers did not score the rest of the way as USC pulled away.

South Carolina (36-0) had nine different players score, led by freshman guard Tessa Johnson with 15 points off the bench.

It's the fourth consecutive Final Four berth for the Gamecocks and coach Dawn Staley as they look to become the first women's team since UConn in 2016 to go undefeated and win a national championship.

South Carolina pulling away in third quarter

A 12-0 run late in the third quarter has South Carolina in prime position to claim the first spot in the women's Final Four.

The Gamecocks hold a 58-46 lead over Oregon State with one quarter to play.

After the Beavers had cut the lead to two points, Raven Johnson and Tessa Johnson connected on 3-point shots to fuel the USC run. South Carolina, the nation's best 3-point shooting team, hit just two of its first 15 attempts from beyond the arc as Oregon State kept the game close.

USC has also enjoyed a sizable advantage on the boards, outrebounding the Beavers 37-26, with 18 of those coming on the offensive end.

Two key Oregon State players have three fouls

Foul trouble could be an important factor in Oregon State's efforts to upset South Carolina and advance to this year's women's Final Four.

Two important members of the Beavers' front line have been forced to spend extended time on the bench during the first half as they trail the top-seeded Gamecocks 37-33 at the break.

Timea Gardiner picked up her third foul midway through the second quarter, and center Raegan Beers was called for her third on what appeared to be a questionable call with just under a minute to play in the half.

However, Oregon State has managed to keep the game close by hitting 6-of-14 shots from 3-point range.

Eight different South Carolina players have scored in the first 20 minutes of action, with guard Bree Hall leading the way with seven.

South Carolina, Oregon State off to slow start

Neither team has been particularly sharp in the early going of today's first regional final.

South Carolina hit just two of its first nine field-goal attempts and Oregon State committed four turnovers to keep the scoring low after one quarter of play.

The top-seeded Gamecocks owned an 18-14 lead.

USC built an eight-point advantage behind five points from guard Bree Hall, but Oregon State cut into the margin as sophomore Lily Hansford came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the period.

Both teams finished the first 10 minutes shooting under 37% from the floor.

Women’s March Madness players to watch today

  • South Carolina G Raven Johnson (8.2 ppg, 4.9 apg, 35.3% 3pt), hit all three of her 3-point attempts in the regional semifinal win over Indiana, including a crucial one in the game's final minute.
  • Oregon State F Timea Gardiner (11.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg), the Beavers' leading scorer with 21 points in the win over Notre Dame, she also pulled down 11 rebounds and handed out four assists. She's upped her scoring average to 16.7 points per game in the tournament.
  • Texas G Madison Booker (16.5 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 5.0 apg), the talented freshman was held to just 6 points against Gonzaga while battling foul trouble.
  • N.C. State G Aziaha James (16.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg), the junior came up big in an upset of Stanford by scoring a game-high 29 points, including 10-of-11 from the free throw line.

— Steve Gardner

LA Times removes 'dirty debutantes' reference in controversial LSU column

After some scathing criticism from LSU women's basketball coach Kim Mulkey, the Los Angeles Times has updated a column it published before Saturday's LSU-UCLA matchup because it "did not meet Times editorial standards."

Mulkey over what she called "sexist" language in the column, which originally called the game vs. UCLA a battle of "good vs. evil." In particular, Mulkey objected to the description of her defending NCAA champion Lady Tigers as "dirty debutantes."

That phrase, along with references to LSU as "villains," and references to UCLA as "milk and cookies" and "America's sweethearts" were also removed from the column (though "America’s sweethearts vs. its basketball villains" remained in the headline ). – Steve Gardner and Nancy Armour

Iowa's Molly Davis doubtful for LSU rematch

Iowa is likely to be without Molly Davis in the Elite Eight.

Hawkeyes coach Lisa Bluder said Sunday she doesn’t expect Davis to play against LSU, a rematch of last year’s national title game.

“I’m really disappointed,” Bluder said. “I really thought she’d be back for the tournament, I really did.”

Davis hurt her right knee in Iowa’s regular-season finale against Ohio State. The injury looked bad initially – she had to be carried off the floor and was in a wheelchair for the Senior Day celebrations – but Bluder said the following day there was still a possibility of Davis playing during the postseason. She’s been doing intensive physical therapy since then, but was in warm-ups for Saturday’s Sweet 16 game.

Davis played in all 30 regular-season games this year, starting all but three. The fifth-year senior averaged 6.1 points and is second to Caitlin Clark with 93 assists. – Nancy Armour

Elite 8 predictions 

Who did ˽ýӳ Sports experts Nancy ArmourԻLindsay Schnell辱? Read here.

Who won the Sweet 16 games last night? 

LSU's Angel Reese and did just enough to lift the and send Kim Mulkey's squad back to the Elite Eight. Caitlin Clark and made sure the tournament would have the rematch everyone craved when the No. 1 seeded in the next game to set up Iowa vs. LSU round two on Monday night.

The third game of the day nearly saw the first top seed go down, but JuJu Watkins and No. 1 Southern California held off a determined , the fifth seed in the region, in a nail-biter. In the nightcap, Paige Bueckers and No. 3 seed took down No. 7 seed .

NCAA women's March Madness bracket 

You can find the complete .

Women’s March Madness scores 

Here is the for today’s Elite Eight games in the .

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