Final: UConn 63, Stanford 58; Huskies advance to title game
No. 2 UConn took down No. 1 Stanford in a hard-nosed game to close out Friday night’s Final Four matchups. The Huskies won 63-58 to move on to their first championship game since 2016.
Both teams played tough defense from start to finish. The fourth quarter was the first to see either team score 20 or more points in the 10-minute span. UConn had 24 and Stanford 21 in that final frame.
While UConn led for over 36 minutes in the contest, its lead was never safe. The largest lead of the night was the Huskies’ eight-point lead midway through the fourth quarter.
UConn needed a complete team effort to win its 12th Final Four matchup. Minnesota native Paige Bueckers led her squad with 14 points, followed by Evina Westbrook with 12 and Christyn Williams with 10. Three other Huskies finished with eight or more points.
Frontcourt play was a big question for UConn entering this game. After losing Dorka Juhasz to a wrist injury in the Elite Eight, the Huskies seemed to be outmatched going in against a very lengthy Stanford team. Not only did Aaliyah Edwards and Olivia Nelson-Ododa step up with a combined 18 rebounds, but the whole team also pitched in with another 38 for a grand total of 46 — nine more than Stanford.
They’ll have another tall task literally and metaphorically on Sunday when they take on Aliyah Boston and the No. 1 South Carolina Gamecocks. Boston brought down 18 rebounds on her own in the win over No. 1 Louisville earlier on Friday night.
UConn will face off with South Carolina on Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN.
UConn takes a look back at a tough matchup, Stanford reflects on season
No. 2 UConn knocked off reigning champion No. 1 Stanford 63-58 in the Final Four. Both teams took to the podium after Friday's battle to go into their paths leading up to this point.
UConn head coach Geno Auriemma talked about his team playing their best in the win.
"We didn't exactly play our A-game on the offensive end, but the things we needed to do when we had to do them, we came up big. I don't know what more I can say about this group than we've been saying, but it was pretty remarkable, to be honest with you."
Paige Bueckers discussed the Final Four being in her home state of Minnesota.
"It's awesome that it's at my hometown, but that's not really our focus, our team's focus, my focus. We're all just trying to win, and whatever we have to do it, I think we're going to keep doing that."
Stanford's Haley Jones, on the other hand, reflected on her team's last time playing together.
"I think your goal is always to kind of end the season on a W, and unfortunately that didn't happen for us tonight. We were just in there, it's some tears but it's a lot of hugs. I think at the end of the day, we're all very disappointed in the outcome of today's game, but we have to kind of take into account everything that we've accomplished and everything we've done."
Head coach Tara VanDerveer talked about her team's troubles on the offensive end.
"We really struggled on offense. When we looked good, we got the ball inside to Cam, and I think she maybe rushed a couple of times, but she finished for us. And unfortunately, we lost, but we didn't really get on the offensive boards the way we needed to."
UConn 39, Stanford 37 at the end of Q3
It's anyone's game as we enter the fourth quarter of this great Final Four matchup. No. 2 UConn is still atop No. 1 Stanford with a 39-37 lead.
The Huskies were in control for the majority of the third, but when Stanford's Cameron Brink came back on she broke the Cardinal's streak of seven missed field goals to make it a one-point game. She ended up picking up another bucket before the quarter closed, but that came after Christyn Williams nailed a huge 3.
Halftime: UConn 27, Stanford 26
The scoring opened up in the second quarter as No. 2 UConn takes a 27-26 lead into halftime over No. 1 Stanford.
UConn's Evina Westbrook stepped up in the second quarter nailing three of her four shots from beyond the arc.
Stanford was able to keep it close thanks to the help of Haley Jones, Cameron Brink and Francesca Belibi all scoring four points each.
Both teams are tied in total rebounds for the night with 22 apiece. One thing that could play a factor in the rebound battle is UConn's Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards with two personal fouls each so far. Nelson-Ododa has 7 boards on her own tonight.
UConn 12, Stanford 9 at the end of Q1
No. 2 UConn holds a 12-9 lead over No. 1 Stanford at the end of the first quarter.
Both teams showed why they're elite defending teams with a total of 10 shots being made between the two.
The Huskies and Cardinal did a great job of both controlling the paint on defense. UConn has outrebounded Stanford 12-8 on defense and 15-11 in the game so far.
Starting lineups for Stanford vs. UConn
The battle between No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 UConn will begin soon. The winner of this Final Four matchup will go on to play No. 1 South Carolina in Sunday’s title game.
Here are the starting lineups for tonight’s game:
- Cameron Brink
- Haley Jones
- Lexi Hull
- Anna Wilson
- Lacie Hull
- Paige Bueckers
- Christyn Williams
- Azzi Fudd
- Aaliyah Edwards
- Olivia Nelson-Ododa
South Carolina takes down Louisville in Final Four
No. 1 South Carolina opened up the Final Four with a 72-59 win over No. 1 Louisville. This will be the Gamecocks' first championship game appearance since 2017.
For all but a short period in the second quarter, the Gamecocks dominated. Aliyah Boston was the driving force for her squad with 23 points and 18 rebounds. In addition to Boston, Destanni Henderson, Zia Cooke, Brea Beal and Victaria Saxton combined for 43 points.
The Gamecocks now await the winner of No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 UConn. That game will tip off at 9:30 p.m. ET. You can watch the second game on ESPN and stream it here.
Stay tuned right here for updates throughout the second game of the night.
South Carolina vs. Louisville tips off
The first matchup of the 2022 Final Four is underway. No. 1 South Carolina is facing off against No. 1 Louisville right now in Minneapolis.
The winner of the battle between the Gamecocks and Cardinals will take on No. 1 Stanford or No. 2 UConn in the title game on Sunday. Both games can be watched on ESPN and streamed online here. Stay tuned here for more updates throughout the night.
Key matchups to watch in Stanford vs. UConn
Today is the day. The 2022 Final Four be underway this evening from Minneapolis. No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 UConn will be the second game of the night at 9:30 p.m. ET. Here are some of the key matchups to watch during the duel between the Cardinal and Huskies.
1. Geno Auriemma vs. Tara VanDerveer
Tonight’s game will feature a legendary coaching matchup. Tara VanDerveer and Geno Auriemma are two of the premier coaches in the NCAA. Both have over 1,000 wins each and combined for 37 Final Four appearances.
The last time these two met in a Final Four was in 2014 when UConn won 75-56. Since 2012, the two have only played one another five times with Geno’s squad getting the best of Tara’s in all but one.
This will be Auriemma’s 14th consecutive trip to a Final Four and 22nd overall. In his career at UConn, he is 11-10 in those matchups. The Huskies have not been able to reach the championship game in the last four trips to the national semifinals.
Coming off a national championship last season, this will be VanDerveer’s second straight Final Four. She reached this round of the tournament now 14 times with a record of 5-8.
2. Paige Bueckers vs. Anna Wilson
Stanford’s Anna Wilson has been tasked with some of the more difficult guard matchups on defense this tournament. In her most recent challenge against Texas, she was consistently guarding Joanne Allen-Taylor and Rori Harmon.
Tonight, she’ll be tasked with defending UConn’s Paige Bueckers. After returning from injury before the tournament, she’s had to slowly work herself back. Now reaching over 24 minutes in each round so far, and double-digit points in three of four rounds. She is starting to look like her old self once again.
3. Stanford’s length vs. UConn’s forwards
With the loss of Dorka Juhasz due to dislocating and fracturing her wrist in the Elite Eight, UConn will be down to two key forwards the rest of the way this season. Olivia Nelson-Ododa and Aaliyah Edwards will continue to handle the Huskies’ frontcourt duties.
They’ll be going up against a lengthy Stanford roster that features Cameron Brink (6’4”) and Francesca Belibi (6’1”) part of its frontcourt. Stanfords guards will also have some height on UConn. Lexi and Lacie Hull along with Haley Jones all stand at 6’1”.
Part of this matchup will be controlling the boards. Stanford has two players averaging over seven rebounds per game: Brink (8.1) and Haley Jones (7.8). UConn has just Olivia Nelson-Ododa (7.5). On average, Stanford outrebounds their opponents 9.6 per game, while UConn sits at 7.3 on rebounding margin.
What you should be reading ahead of tonight's Final Four
We’re less than 10 hours away from the start of the Final Four matchup between No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 UConn. This will be the first matchup between these two since 2017. The Huskies got the better of the Cardinal that time around with a 78-53 win.
Here are some links to help get you prepared for tonight’s star-studded matchup:
- Four facts to know before the Final Four — NCAA.com
- Here's how many brackets correctly picked all of the women's Final Four teams — NCAA.com
- UConn's unprecedented Final Four run stands the test of time — NCAA.com
- Behind the scenes at Women's Final Four Media Day — NCAA.com
- Twin talents: Hull sisters shine on Stanford women’s basketball — The Stanford Daily
- Some things never change: When it comes to Stanford, UConn women’s coach Geno Auriemma knows exactly what he’s in for — Hartford Courant
Catch up on interviews from the Final Four
Games don't tip off until Friday night, so get ready by hearing from some of the stars of this year’s Final Four.
You can see more videos from the Final Four by clicking here.
The Final Four begins Friday night at 7 p.m. ET with No. 1 South Carolina taking on No. 1 Louisville. The games will continue at 9:30 p.m. ET with No. 1 Stanford facing No. 2 UConn. Both games will be streamed on ESPN.
Final Four action tips off Friday night
The Final Four is less than 24 hours away. No. 1 Stanford and No. 2 UConn will tip off at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET after the completion of No. 1 South Carolina’s matchup against No. 1 Louisville.
The Cardinal and the Huskies took different paths to reach this point. Stanford entered this season as the reigning champions, while UConn came off a tough loss to No. 3 Arizona in the 2021 Final Four.
In this year’s tournament, Stanford took care of business at each stop. Defeating No. 16 Montana State, No. 8 Kansas, No. 4 Maryland and No. 2 Texas en route to its second consecutive Final Four. Its closest margin of victory in the last four rounds was six points in the win over Maryland.
UConn, on the other hand, had a few more nerve-racking moments. The Huskies beat No. 15 Mercer, No. 7 UCF and No. 3 Indiana before their matchup with No. 1 NC State. About an hour away from home, UConn prevailed in the first double-overtime game in the Elite Eight to reach its 14th straight Final Four.
The two will go at it on Friday night at approximately 9:30 p.m. ET from the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The game will steam live on ESPN.
How to watch Stanford and UConn play in the Final Four
You can watch No. 2 UConn and No. 1 Stanford play in the women's Final Four at 9:30 p.m. ET Friday on ESPN.
That game will stream live on ESPN.