From the opening tip of the season, there was only one question in women’s college basketball: How do you stop Brittney Griner?
Louisville found the answer Sunday night, pulling off one of the biggest upsets in the history of the tournament.
Considered a lock for the Final Four – and prohibitive favorites to win a second straight championship – Griner and her Lady Bears got bounced 82-81 by fifth-seeded Louisville in an NCAA regional semifinal at Oklahoma City.
“I’m just sad,” Griner said. “I didn’t do what I needed to do to get my team to the Elite Eight, and just disappointment in myself.”
Baylor (34-2) had won 32 straight games and 74 of 75 behind Griner, among the greatest players ever in her sport. But the 6-foot-8 star didn’t make a basket until the second half, then committed a foul with 2.6 seconds left that gave Louisville a chance to win.
Monique Reid made those two foul shots, rescuing the Cardinals (27-8) after they squandered a 17-point lead in the last 71/2 minutes.
The win made it quite a day for the school – hours earlier, the Louisville men’s team beat Duke 85-63 to reach the Final Four.
Reid and the Cardinals will play Tennessee in the regional final Tuesday for a berth in the Final Four.
Odyssey Sims scored 29 points, including two free throws with 9.1 seconds to go that put Baylor ahead 81-80. Sims had one more chance to save the season, but she was off-target and late on a desperation heave.
Sims dropped to the floor after her miss, pulling her jersey over her face and kicking her legs as she lay flat on her back.
Griner squatted near her and slapped the floor with both hands before pulling Sims up to her feet.
Griner, who had averaged 33 points in Baylor’s first two games in the tournament, didn’t make a basket until she converted a putback with 15:20 left in the second half. She wound up with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Antonita Slaughter hit seven 3-pointers for 21 points and Shoni Schimmel had five 3s.
Tennessee 74, Oklahoma 59: Kamiko Williams scored 15 points, Cierre Burdick had 13 and second-seeded Tennessee routed Oklahoma in the other regional semifinal at Oklahoma City.
The Lady Vols (27-7) opened a 20-point lead in the first half and never let Oklahoma make a comeback.
Sharane Campbell scored 22 points and Joanna McFarland had 14 for No. 6 seed Oklahoma (24-11).
Notre Dame 93, Kansas 63: Skylar Diggins scored 22 of her 27 points by halftime and became the school’s career scoring leader, leading the top-seeded Fighting Irish into the regional final at Norfolk, Va.
Notre Dame will play No. 2 seed Duke on Tuesday for a berth in the Final Four.
Diggins added nine assists and three steals, scored nine straight during a 16-2 first-half run that put the Irish (34-1) ahead to stay, and six more to cap a 10-2 run into halftime.
Carolyn Davis led the No. 12 seed Jayhawks (20-14) with 25 points on 11-for-17 shooting.
Duke 53, Nebraska 45: Tricia Liston scored 17 points and Duke (33-2) shook off a slow start to beat Nebraska (25-9) in the other semifinal.