|Tennessee loses 73-62 by Maryland in regional semi|
|Sunday, March 30, 2014 8:01 PM|
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Tennessee Lady Vols started crying as they walked off the floor. They curled up inside a locker or stared aimlessly at the ground once they got to the locker room. Cierra Burdick hunched over against a wall with a towel over her head.
The GrindFor9 — winning another national title this season in their home state— is over.
The Lady Vols dug themselves into a hole that they couldn’t climb out of Sunday in losing the Louisville Regional semifinal to Maryland 73-62.
“I thought we came out just nervous, a little scared for whatever reason,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “We didn’t have that fight back at the beginning and then we got ourselves in a hole.”
Tennessee (29-6) led only once at 3-2 and couldn’t get closer than eight in the second half. The Lady Vols turned it over 22 times, many with the ball just slipping out of their hands.
“Those are the worst ones, the ones you just can’t control,” freshman guard Jordan Reynolds said. “I’d blame it on nerves, but that’s never an excuse.”
Meighan Simmons scored 19 of her 31 points in the second half trying to rally the Lady Vols but wound up concluding her career in the same arena where she played her first collegiate game in 2010.
Tennessee had won 10 of the first 14 games with Maryland, including the one previous NCAA tournament game at the 1989 Final Four. The Lady Vols also came into this game having won nine straight and 15 of their last 16, including three times at the Southeastern Conference tournament where they rallied from double digits in all three games in winning the title.
Now they finish a game less than a year ago when they lost in a regional final to Louisville. Tennessee remains stuck on eight national titles and 22 Final Four berths with their last Final Four appearance six years ago. This was the third time in that span the Lady Vols have been a No. 1 seed and they couldn’t close the gap to get them the 179 miles from Knoxville to Nashville — site of the 2014 Final Four.
“We’re Tennessee and we’re not happy that we’re not playing for a national championship,” Warlick added. “That’s in our DNA.”
The Terrapins (27-6) reached their ninth regional final and first since 2012 with coach Brenda Frese firing them up before tipoff.
Alyssa Thomas scored the most points allowed to a single player by Tennessee this season with a career-high 33, and she grabbed 13 rebounds to extend her school record with her 65th career double-double. Lexie Brown added 14 points, Laurin Mincy had 11 and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough 10.
The Terps haven’t been to a Final Four themselves since winning the national championship in 2006 and they had lost earlier this season to UConn, Notre Dame and Duke. Brown credited those losses with helping them now.
“We have a lot to prove in this tournament and to get a big win over Tennessee is just giving us a lot more momentum going into our next game,” Brown added.
Jasmine Jones also had 11 points for Tennessee.
“Just knowing that we’re not going to make it to the Final Four is kind of heartbreaking,” sophomore forward Bashaara Graves said.
Maryland dominated with a 38-28 scoring edge in the paint and the Terrapins also outrebounded Tennessee 38-28. The only place the Lady Vols dominated was at the free-throw line, hitting more there (20-of-27) than from the floor (19-of-53).
Maryland led 41-27 at halftime, the biggest deficit Tennessee had faced all season. That put the Lady Vols needing their biggest comeback since Jan. 3, 2009, when they beat Rutgers after trailing by 23.
The Terrapins pushed their lead to as much as 18. Tennessee finally put together its best stretch of the game but couldn’t get closer than eight with Simmons scoring 17 in the second half trying to spark the rally. Each time the Lady Vols scored, Maryland, or rather Thomas, responded with bucket after bucket.
LOUISVILLE 73, LSU 47
Shoni Schimmel scored 19 points, Tia Gibbs added five 3-pointers and third-seeded Louisville rolled seventh-seeded LSU to reach the regional final of the NCAA tournament.
Facing an injury-riddled Tigers squad that dressed just eight players, the Cardinals (33-4) rung up another rout highlighted by a season-best 12 3-pointers with the two seniors leading the way. Schimmel was 3-of-5 from beyond the arc and three other Cardinals contributed.
LSU (21-13) on the other hand went 31 minutes with just Danielle Ballard (24 points), Jasmine Rhodes (eight) and Theresa Plaisance (seven) scoring before other Tigers chipped in. By then the game was out of hand and the Tigers shot just 24 percent from the field.
Louisville moved on to host Maryland on Tuesday night, matching Cardinals coach Jeff Walz against Terrapins counterpart Brenda Frese, whom he worked under from 2002-07.
STANFORD 82, PENN STATE 57
STANFORD, Calif. — Chiney Ogwumike had 29 points and 15 rebounds, Mikaela Ruef produced a career performance on both ends and second-seeded Stanford reached the regional final on its home floor.
The Cardinal (32-3) built a big first-half lead and rolled against the third-seeded Lady Lions to move into Tuesday night’s regional final against No. 4 seed North Carolina.
Ruef recovered from getting poked in the eye early to contribute 11 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and two steals. She was cheered at every chance by the raucous home crowd at Maples Pavilion. Amber Orrange added 18 points in Stanford’s ninth straight NCAA tournament home win.
Ariel Edwards scored 22 points for the Lady Lions (24-8), while leading scorer Maggie Lucas was held scoreless in the second half and finished with six.
NORTH CAROLINA 65, SOUTH CAROLINA 58
Diamond DeShields escaped two close calls with injury to score 19 points, leading North Carolina one win closer to a sweet reunion with healing coach Sylvia Hatchell.
Brittany Rountree converted a pair of free throws with 1:14 left and two more at the 36.4-second mark to help seal it for the No. 4 seed Tar Heels (27-9), who backed up their December victory against the Gamecocks with another on the NCAA tournament stage.
Alaina Coates hit several key baskets down the stretch on the way to 22 points for South Carolina (29-5), held to 37.7-percent shooting while committing 13 turnovers.
North Carolina needs one more win to be reunited with Hatchell, whose doctors have said she could travel to the Final Four in Nashville, Tenn., after recently undergoing her final chemotherapy session for leukemia.
Hatchell hasn’t coached this season after being diagnosed with leukemia in October, though she does plenty of game-planning with associate coach Andrew Calder by phone.