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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

South Carolina overwhelms Maryland and advances to the Final Four

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston scores over Maryland’s Brinae Alexander and Lavender Briggs during an Elite Eight game in Greenville, S.C.  (Washington Post)
From wire services

From wire services

Diamond Miller and Shyanne Sellers came running out of the tunnel before Monday’s Elite Eight game, just under 30 minutes before tip, giggling and shoving each other. Seconds later Sellers was waving her arms to the Maryland band to start playing.

There were no nerves for this Maryland team, preparing to face the No. 1 team in the nation that has lost just two games in two seasons. There was no trepidation about facing the defending champs. But there was one more thing the Terrapins didn’t have – reigning national and defensive player of the year Aliyah Boston.

Maryland aggressively fought for four quarters but Boston was a constant and steadying force and the Terps’ postseason run came to an end in an 86-75 loss to a team looking to close out an undefeated season. South Carolina (36-0) goes on to face Iowa in the Final Four in Dallas.

Miller walked off the court for the final time as a collegian wiping her eyes and had a long hug with coach Brenda Frese near center court.

The 2022-23 Terrapins (28-7) surpassed expectations after starting the season ranked 17th in the Associated Press preseason poll and picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten. They had replaced five of their top six scorers and relied on four transfers. The group, however, played with chemistry, leaned on the all-American Miller and the much-improved sophomore Sellers. The team lost just three games after a Jan. 12 defeat at Indiana.

South Carolina, playing in its home state, did what it has done to opponents all season – overwhelmed them with size and athleticism. And Boston, expected to be the No. 1 pick in the WNBA draft in April, settled the Gamecocks down when they trailed after the first quarter and denied all comeback attempts.

Miller, projected to be a lottery pick, led Maryland with 24 points, and Abby Meyers scored 14 before fouling out for the first time this season early in the fourth quarter. Maryland shot 50% from the field but it wasn’t enough.

Faith Masonius also fouled out and Sellers, Miller and Alexander also dealt with foul trouble. South Carolina shot 26 free throws and outrebounded Maryland, 48-26. The Gamecocks scored 23 second-chance points off 25 offensive rebounds.

Boston finished with 22 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. It was the first game in her career with at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists. Zia Cooke added 18 points, and Brea Beal chipped in 16. The size was just too much with Boston standing 6-foot-5, Beal 6-1 and Kamilla Cardoso coming off the bench at 6-7.

Maryland trailed 38-30 at halftime after an inspired first quarter but a rugged second quarter where fouls piled up as South Carolina muscled its way inside. The overwhelmingly South Carolina crowd seemed stunned after an opening 10 minutes in which Maryland led 21-15 thanks to a 12-0 run. Meyers was all over the place and the Terps’ energy and intensity offset the Gamecocks’ height and athleticism advantage. It was just the fourth 20-point quarter South Carolina has allowed all season.

That tide, however, turned as Miller and Sellers sat most of the second quarter with two fouls and Masonius and Alexander were also there for a long stretch with a pair of fouls. As the whistles blew South Carolina had a parade to the foul line, and when it missed it often grabbed the offensive board for a second chance. Maryland was outscored 23-9 in the second quarter as the Terps simply tried to survive.

Boston was named the most outstanding player of the Greenville 1 Region, and Miller and Meyers were named to the all-region team.

Virginia Tech overcomes Ohio State pressThe Hokies keep making history.

It’s been a weekend of firsts in Seattle for the No. 1-seeded Virginia Tech women’s basketball team, which played in its first Elite Eight game Monday night against third-seeded Ohio State at Climate Pledge Arena.

And following an 84-74 victory in the Seattle Region 3 final, the Hokies advance to their first Final Four in Dallas on Friday to face No. 3 seed Louisiana State for a spot in the national championship against No. 1 seed South Carolina or second-seeded Iowa.

Virginia Tech senior center Elizabeth Kitley led the way with 25 points and 12 rebounds while junior guard Georgia Amoore poured in 24 points. Senior forward Taylor Soule and senior guard Cayla King each added 12 points.

The Hokies (30-4) took an early 6-2 lead, which set the tone for the rest of game.

The Buckeyes’ trademark full-court press that gave Connecticut fits Saturday was virtually nonexistent after the Hokies easily maneuvered around the defense for a 3-pointer by Eboni Walker on the second possession.

“We play a lot of teams in the ACC who press, just probably not to the magnitude of what Ohio State does,” Hokies coach Kenny Brooks said before the game. “Their commitment to the press is very thorough. I’ve been watching ’em all year long.

“We have to make sure that we limit our live ball turnovers. Just can’t give them the basketball for at least the two points and then they come back and press you again. It would almost be more beneficial to throw it up into the stands so we can set our defense up as opposed to giving them live ball turnovers.”

In their previous game – a 73-64 victory against Tennessee on Saturday – the Hokies committed 18 turnovers. Against Ohio State they had 13.

The Buckeyes had difficulties pressing Virginia Tech with the sure-handed Amoore handling the ball and directing the offense.

Senior guard Taylor Mikesell drained her first three 3-pointers to lead Ohio State to a 25-22 lead after the first quarter.

Both teams led for exactly 9:17 in the first half but Virginia Tech outscored Ohio State 26-20 in the second period and was up 48-45 at halftime.

The Hokies never lost the lead in the second half and stretched their advantage to 63-55 to start the fourth quarter.

Mikesell finished with 25 points, senior guard Jacy Sheldon had 19 and Cotie McMahon 18 for Ohio State (28-8), which played its first Elite Eight game since 1993.