Women's roundup: South Carolina wins on late shot
Greensboro, N.C. — North Carolina just couldn't protect its late lead.
The Tar Heels led by three in the final 90 seconds before falling 67-65 to South Carolina on Tiffany Mitchell's driving basket with 4.2 seconds left in Friday night's NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 game. It was a painfully close finish for the Tar Heels, who flirted with handing the No. 1-seeded Gamecocks another earlier-than-expected loss only to come up a couple of plays short.
"I still think that we're the better team," sophomore center Stephanie Mavunga said. "I just feel as if, like I said, if there was just one possession here or there and it would have been a different team celebrating."
UNC led 63-60 entering the final 2 minutes, but there were several plays to lament by the final horn. Most notably, there was a hurried missed shot from Latifah Coleman with 1:24 left, a loose offensive rebound on a missed free throw that set up Olivia Gaines' bounce-around-the-rim tying 3-pointer, then a missed contested 3 from Jessica Washington that led to Mavunga fouling out while battling for the rebound underneath. That foul set up two free throws from Alaina Coates for the lead in the final minute.
There was also a turnover when Mavunga threw an outlet pass off a rebound to Coleman, only to have her bumped by a defender at the sideline and go out of bounds with 3:17 left.
Each one came when the Tar Heels were on the verge of increasing the pressure even more on the Gamecocks.
Instead, Southeastern Conference player of the year Mitchell drove to the basket to give South Carolina the win.
She finished with 18 points for the No. 1-seeded Gamecocks (33-2), who had to fight the entire way to push past UNC in a rematch of last year's Sweet 16 game and advance to the Greensboro Region final.
Coates also scored 18 points, including the two key free throws for the lead with 46.1 seconds to go. Then Mitchell answered a tying basket from Jessica Washington in the final minute by driving past Brittany Rountree for what turned out to be the winning score.
Fourth-seeded UNC (26-9) had one more chance, but freshman Jamie Cherry's desperation runner hit all backboard as the horn sounded, sending the Gamecocks into an oncourt celebration.
South Carolina had reached the Elite Eight only once before, losing to Duke in 2002. Now Dawn Staley's Gamecocks are back to face No. 2 seed Florida State on Sunday with the winner going to the Final Four.
Latifah Coleman scored 10 of her 15 after halftime for North Carolina.
More Greensboro Region
Florida State 66, Arizona State 65: Leticia Romero scored a career-high 21 points for Florida State. Adut Bulgak had 15 points and Maegan Conwright added 11 to send the second-seeded Seminoles (32-4) to the regional final — just the second Elite Eight appearance in program history. Katie Hempen had 22 points for the third-seeded Sun Devils (29-6).
Oklahoma City Regional
Notre Dame 81, Stanford 60: Lindsay Allen scored a career-high 28 points to help top-seeded Notre Dame advance. Jewell Loyd scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half for the Fighting Irish (34-2), who will play Baylor (33-3) on Sunday for a spot in the Final Four. The Fighting Irish beat Baylor 88-69 in a regional final last year. Bonnie Samuelson scored 17 points and Erica McCall and Amber Orrange each added 12 for No. 4 seed Stanford (26-10). It was the first postseason meeting for veteran coaches Tara VanDerveer of Stanford and Muffet McGraw of Notre Dame, and just the third ever meeting between the schools. Stanford won the previous meetings in 1990 and 1991.
Baylor 81, Iowa 66: Sune Agbuke had a career-high 23 points and Baylor advanced to the Elite Eight for the fifth time in six years. Nina Davis added 20 points and Niya Johnson had 16 assists for the No. 2-seed Lady Bears (33-3). Agbuke finished with 12 rebounds for Baylor, which outrebounded the Hawkeyes 45-35. The 6-foot-4 senior topped her previous career best of 16 points, set last season against Kansas State. Kristy Wallace hit her first seven shots and finished with 17 points for Baylor. Samantha Logic had a triple-double to lead third-seeded Iowa (26-8), finishing with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists. The Hawkeyes were making their first Sweet 16 appearance since 1996.