The Maryland Terrapins and Stanford Cardinal are heading to Nashville, Tenn. to join the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and Connecticut Huskies in the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA women's tournament. Whereas Notre Dame and Connecticut both won their Elite Eight games rather easily, the two games on Tuesday were much closer affairs.
It's the first Final Four appearance for Maryland since 2006, when the Terrapins won the entire tournament. Stanford has been a mainstay in the Final Four, making it five consecutive years from 2008-2012. The Cardinal were bounced in the Sweet 16 last season.
No. 2 Stanford Cardinal 74, No. 4 North Carolina Tar Heels 65
Chiney Ogwumike scored 20 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead Stanford back to the Final Four. The Cardinal spent a solid portion of the game trying to come from behind, regaining the lead with 15 minutes left in the second half. Stanford's only lead at that point was 2-0. North Carolina fought back to take a one point lead with 3:25 remaining, but its offense went cold in the final stretch. Danielle Butts made a layup with 1:48 left to cut Stanford's lead to 66-65, but those would be the Tar Heels' final points of the game. North Carolina missed its three final shots and turned the ball over once as Stanford hit its free throws to comfortably win.
The two teams were pretty evenly matched across the board. Stanford out-rebounded North Carolina, but not by much, 35-32. Stanford was 9-for-20 from the three point line and North Carolina was 9-for-22. Both teams finished with 13 turnovers and neither team made it to the line very often. Mikaela Ruef added 17 points and Amber Orrange contributed 14 to help give Stanford just enough offense to continue its tournament run.
No. 4 Maryland Terrapins 76, No. 3 Louisville 73
The Terrapins overcame a sloppy game to hold off a late charge from the Cardinals and advance to their first Final Four. Maryland led by eight points with 22 seconds remaining and seemed to be in line for a comfortable victory, but Louisville would go on a quick 8-2 run in 15 seconds to close the gap to two points. Louisville guard Shoni Schimmel missed a three-pointer with one second left, losing a chance to tie the game. Maryland escaped with the win.
Schimmel led all scorers with 31 points but went cold for much of the second half. Maryland held the lead for the entire second half, and much of this was from the disappearance of Schimmel, who at one point missed eight straight shots and added three turnovers to the mix. Schimmel's game was plagued by turnovers, finishing with seven total. She had four turnovers within the first 16 minutes of the game after turning the ball over only three times in her first three games of the NCAA Tournament.
Maryland made sure it took the game home on the free throw line down the stretch. Maryland's final 14 points came from the free throw line and the team was 25-of-28 from the line overall. Alyssa Thomas led the Terrapins with 22 points and 13 rebounds and Lexie Brown added 20 points.
Here's a link to the updated bracket.