L’ville holds off Michigan for last Final Four berth

    Mechelle Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

WICHITA, Kan. — One ACC No. 1 women’s basketball seed suffered Elite Eight heartbreak on Monday, but the other is headed to the Final Four.

Louisville, the top seed here in Wichita, held off a gritty Michigan team that was appearing in the program’s first Elite Eight, 62-50. It will be the Cardinals’ fourth trip to the Final Four; they lost in the championship game in 2009 and 2013, and in the semifinals in 2018.

Louisville will face overall No. 1 seed South Carolina in Friday’s semifinals.

When the Cardinals and Wolverines met Dec. 2 in Louisville, it was no contest. The Cardinals dominated every aspect of that game, winning 70-48. And at least personnel-wise, there wasn’t much change in the two teams nearly four months later. But Monday’s game was very different.

While many eyes were glued to the double-overtime drama at the Bridgeport Regional involving No. 2 seed UConn and No. 1 seed NC State and won by the Huskies, Louisville and Michigan battled for a first half that ended with the Cardinals up 30-27.

And while it felt like Louisville was in control for most of the game, the Wolverines were never far behind. Led by All-American senior post player Naz Hillmon, Michigan won the rebounding battle — something the Wolverines didn’t do in December.

Michigan was within two points, 52-50, with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left. And it stayed that way for nearly 3 minutes before Louisville scored on Olivia Cochran’s layup with 2:52 left. Then the Cardinals’ defense really turned up the heat and continued to dominate to finish out the game; Michigan never did score again.

Hillmon finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, her fourth double-double in this NCAA tournament.

Louisville sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith led the Cardinals with 22 points; she is the first Cardinals women’s player to have four consecutive 20-point games in the NCAA tournament. Van Lith was named the regional’s most outstanding player; Louisville is 11-0 in games in which she scores at least 20 points.

Source: Read Full Article