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Sports >  NCAA basketball

NCAA women’s notebook: No. 1 South Carolina runs past UCLA to reach NCAA Elite Eight

March 25, 2023 Updated Sat., March 25, 2023 at 7:44 p.m.

South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston leads the celebration after the Gamecocks defeated UCLA in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 on Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina.  (Tribune News Service)
South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston leads the celebration after the Gamecocks defeated UCLA in the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 on Saturday in Greenville, South Carolina. (Tribune News Service)
Tribune News Service

Tribune News Service

The No. 1 Gamecocks are staying in Greenville, South Carolina, and moving on to the Elite Eight.

South Carolina’s women’s basketball team defeated UCLA 59-43 at Bon Secours Wellness Arena in the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.

The Gamecocks will face Maryland on Monday.

The first half was a struggle for both offenses, with both teams thriving on defense.

South Carolina limited the production of UCLA’s Charisma Osbourne and Kiki Rice, who shot a combined 2 of 6 from the field in the first half. Senior guards Brea Beal and Zia Cooke took on the responsibility of guarding those two.

The Bruins played sagging defense against South Carolina in hopes to force outside jumpers. The Gamecocks shot just 2 of 11 from 3-point range in the first half. Beal hit both of those 3-pointers.

The rebounding battle helped the Gamecocks throughout the game as they recovered many of their own offensive misses.

The height disparity made it difficult on UCLA to keep up on the glass.

South Carolina’s third-quarter offense was much more efficient. The team shot 9 of 14 from the field in that period and outscored the Bruins by 10 points.

Maryland surges past Notre Dame

Sweetness gave way to joy for Maryland women’s basketball.

For the first time in eight years, the second-seeded Terps turned a Sweet 16 appearance into an Elite Eight date, defeating No. 3 seed Notre Dame 76-59 in a regional semifinal at Bon Secours Wellness Arena.

Sophomore shooting guard Shyanne Sellers scored 16 of her 18 points in the second half and racked up eight assists, five rebounds and three steals as Maryland outscored the Fighting Irish 45-27 in the second half.

Senior shooting guard Diamond Miller scored 14 of her 18 points in the second half and added five rebounds, four steals and two assists, senior shooting guard Lavender Briggs scored nine of her 12 points in the fourth quarter and senior shooting guard Abby Meyers finished with 11 points and four steals.

With four assists between Sellers and Miller, the duo contributed to 84.4% of the team’s production in the last two quarters.

“I know personally for me, obviously, and yes, definitely ‘Shy,’ we started out very slow,” Miller said. “It took us for real-for real the second half for us to pick it up.”

The Terps collected their first victory in the Sweet 16 since March 28, 2015, when that squad, a No. 1 seed at the time, beat No. 4 seed Duke 65-55 in Spokane. They ended a run of three consecutive losses in the Sweet 16.

“It’s just exciting,” Sellers said. “Obviously, it’s fun to be a part of, but just doing it with a great coaching staff and great teammates is always the best part.”

Maryland will play in its first NCAA Tournament regional final since March 30, 2015, when that squad defeated No. 2 seed Tennessee 58-48.

It will face No. 1 overall seed and reigning national champion South Carolina on Monday at 7 p.m.

Ohio State upsets UConn

Ohio State won its biggest game in 30 years by knocking off a modern dynasty for the first time.

The Buckeyes beat Connecticut 73-61 in Seattle to advance to their first Elite Eight since 1993. They did that after losing to the Huskies the first six times they played by an average of 26 points. The first loss came in 2010. The most recent came in 2019 by 11 points, which was a sign of progress.

This was a breakthrough.

UConn had made 14 straight Final Fours. Ohio State hasn’t made one since 1993. But in this game, the Buckeyes rattled the Huskies with their press, forcing 25 turnovers. They got dominant performances from freshman Cotie McMahon (23 points, five rebounds) and senior Jacy Sheldon (17 points, seven rebounds, five assists.)

Once the Buckeyes got rolling, UConn couldn’t find a rhythm. Ohio State trailed 10-2 after the first 4:43 , but cut that lead to 17-15 by the end of the first quarter.

Once Ohio State took the lead on a McMahon 3-pointer with 8:46 left in the second quarter, UConn never led again. Once Ohio State extended the lead to double digits later in the second quarter, the Huskies never got closer than five points.

The Buckeyes (28-7) are one of three Big Ten teams in the Elite Eight, joining Iowa and Maryland.

That was a tough conference this season, which the Buckeyes found out after starting the season 19-0 and reaching No. 2 in the nation. They finished fourth in the conference at 12-6, but they did most of that with Sheldon sidelined by injury.

When she returned in early March, the Buckeyes knew they’d be at their best, and that would give them a chance.

As 10-point underdogs, they took advantage.

No. 1 seed Virginia Tech eliminates Tennessee

Virginia Tech overcame a comeback attempt by Tennessee and won 73-64 in Seattle to advance to the Elite Eight.

The Hokies, who had only six players enter the game, were led by Georgia Amoore’s 29 points, six rebounds and five assists

Jordan Horston scored 17 points for the Volunteers.

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