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Put Some Respect on their Name

March Madness has been a bright spot in 2021. Last year right before the big dance was set to go underway, the world shut down due to COVID-19. And it was a memorable one for the women’s bracket play.

Baylor vs UCONN in the Elite Eight

Many felt this matchup should’ve been the championship game. And the controversial no-call at the end of the game was the talk of the town. Baylor’s DiJonai Carrington (22 points on the night) had a chance to take the lead but her shot was “blocked” by UCONN’s Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards. The refs missed the foul against Carrington that would’ve sent her to the free-throw line with just seconds to go in the fourth quarter. Right before this play, UCONN’s Christyn Williams missed the chance to widen the gap between Baylor but missed both free throws.

“CMON man That was a FOUL #ncaaw Baylor vs UCONN” LeBron James tweeted. UCONN head coach responded to the Los Angeles Laker, “ "I don't think LeBron has ever won a game on a bad call by the other team, by the other officials...I probably doubt that in his career he's ever won a game and decided to give it back because he looked at it and went 'that was a foul.”

Former WNBA player Swin Cash tweeted,”I love my huskies but yeah they missed that foul whew child.”

UCONN went on a 19-0 run at one point in the game to come back from a 10 deficit. The Naismith Player of the Year, UCONN freshman Paige Bueckers led her team with 28 points in the game. She is the first freshman to win the award and she also won the Associated Press Player of the Year, making it the 11th time a UCONN player has won the award. The UCONN winners include Rebecca Lobo (1995), Sue Bird (2002), Diana Taurasi (2003 and 2004), Maya Moore (2009 and 2011) Tina Charles (2010), and Breanna Stewart (2014,2015, and 2016).

Baylor’s Didi Richards (senior) went down with an injury which hurt Baylor’s defense as she is one of the nation’s top defenders. In 2020, she was named the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year but her journey to her final year has had many obstacles. On October 24th. 2020 she suffered a spinal injury after an on-court collision with teammate Moon Ursin. The injury left her temporarily paralyzed, she was briefly passed out but eventually came too. It was non-structural but Richards initially dealt with paralysis from the hips down. Thirty-eight days later after extreme rehab and working her back to regaining full strength in her legs, she was back on the court. She totaled 4 points. 7 assists, and 2 steals in a 67-62 victory against South Florida.

Richards along with Carrington will be entering the WNBA draft.

Arizona vs UCONN in Final Four matchup

Arizona had a season for the books! Led by senior Aari McDonald they easily became one of the nation’s favorite teams to watch throughout March Madness. Many had UCONN to win this game and to the National Championship game but Arizona had different plans. The Wildcats jumped out to a 16-10 lead in the first quarter and kept a 32-22 led at halftime. UCONN was never able throughout the game as Arizona’s defense was too much for the Huskie’s to handle. UCONN was averaging more than 82 points per game in the regular season and averaging 86.5 points in the NCAA tournament. The final score of the matchup….59-69. The Paige Bueckers-led team faced their largest deficit of the season is down 14 in the second half of play and never had a led in the game. This loss was also UCONN’s first double-digit loss in the NCAA tournament since 2007! A 14-year gap!

But Arizona’s head coach Adia Barnes had faith in her team all along! “This is my team and I believe in them and I will run through a wall for them. And I’m just so proud because they do whatever I ask, they believe and that’s all I can ask for with the team. They play hard for me. And I give it my all,” Barnes told reporters post-game. Arizona limited the Huskies to 36% shooting as they were leading the nation in field goal percentage with 52% and were ranked fourth in the offense.

Stanford vs South Carolina in Final Four matchup

It was the first time the Cardinals were in the Final Four since 2010. Haley Jones had two offensive rebounds and hit a jumper with 32 seconds left to give Standford a one-point lead. As the Cardinals tried to run the clock out South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston stole the ball with six seconds left starting a fast break but Brea Beal missed the layup from the left side and Boston missed the follow-up lay-up. South Carolina guard Zia Cooke led the Gamecocks with 25 points including five 3 pointers.

Stanford struggled in the first quarter, committing four turnovers in the first five minutes of the game but by halftime were up by six. Cardinals Cameron Brink and Fran Belibi worked to slow down South Carolina’s most versatile player, Boston (finished with 11 points 5 of 14 shooting, and 16 rebounds). The teams went back and forth in scoring in the fourth quarter. Stanford held a 4 point lead until SC Destanni Henderson made a 3pointer of an offensive rebound. Standford followed up with a jumper in the paint by senior Kiana Williams with a little over two minutes left. Williams finished with eight pounds and Henderson had 18 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists. Brink made a HUGE difference slowing down Boston and SC forward Laeticia Amihere, she finished with six out of Stanford’s twelve blocks.

Stanford hit 56 3pointers over the course of the tournament breaking the record of 54 set by UCONN in 2015.

Stanford vs Arizona in the Championship

Similar to many of the games throughout the tournament, this game came down to the very last second. And the Standford Cardinals came out victorious over the underdogs Arizona. This was Stanford’s first NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship since 1992. The 1992 championship was the second in three years. Tara VanDeer the head coach for the Cardinals has been coaching at the Division 1 level since 1978. She started her head coaching career at Idaho, then she had a stint at Ohio State and has been at Standford since 1985-1986 season. She won her first title in 1990. VanDerveer has won or shared 24 Pac-12 regular-season titles and won 14 of that league’s 20 tournaments. The 29-year gap between championships is the longest for any Division 1 sport.

Both teams struggled offensively but Arizona’s defense caused Stanford to turn the ball over 21 times. Out of the gate, Standford was dominant, jumping out to a 16-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. But the Wildcats defense kept Standford from running away with the game. In the second quarter, Arizona tightens up the lead despite leading scorer Aari McDonald who scored only five points in the first half. McDonald was responsible for nearly a third of the team's points over the season.


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