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The South Carolina Gamecocks and Maryland Terrapins used their respective advantages well to advance to the Elite Eight

The Greenville 1 Region of the 2023 Women’s NCAA Tournament is now limited to just two teams, with the Maryland Terrapins and South Carolina Gamecocks emerging victorious in the region’s Sweet Sixteen matchup. Here are our recaps of the region’s games from Sunday, March 25.

No. 2 seed Maryland Terrapins over No. 3 seed Notre Dame Fighting Irish, 76-59

Maryland’s Shayne Sellers (left) and Diamond Miller fueled the Terrapins’ trademark uptempo attack, leading their team past Notre Dame and the Elite Eight.
Photo by Grant Halverson / NCAA Photo via Getty Images

The Saturday morning matchup featured two teams with contrasting styles of play – though perhaps not entirely by design.

The Terrapins, as fans have come to expect in recent seasons, made it to the Sweet Sixteen with a roster full of skilled, athletic perimeter players that emphasize play of speed and transition instead of relying on the traditional low-post scoring threat. . The Irish, on the other hand, have been particularly reliant on their frontcourt of late, having lost starting guards Olivia Miles and Dara Mabray to season-ending knee injuries; They’ll have to slow down the game in order to hang with the higher seeds.

This battle of speed versus size began as a back-and-forth affair, with Maryland’s fullcourt press forcing several early Notre Dame turnovers, while the Irish’s advantage on the glass prevented the Terrapins from maintaining that momentum. With the shorthanded roster, ACC Coach of the Year Neale Ivey’s options for in-game adjustments were limited compared to Maryland’s Brenda Freese, although Notre Dame’s switching of man-to-man and zone defense helped Maryland’s potent offense. Stopped getting into a rhythm. At halfcourt for most of the first half. After 20 minutes, Notre Dame led Maryland by the narrowest of margins, 32–31.

However, in the second half, the Terrapins’ depth began to overwhelm their opponents. The fouls put Ireland’s starters Lauren Ibo and Maddie Westbeld on the bench for wide stretches, and without reliable enough ballhandlers to deal with Maryland’s fullcourt press, the Irish Terrapins needed basketball to counter their offense. were unable to take good care of. Maryland stars Diamond Miller and Shayne Sellers came alive after struggling in the first half, scoring 18 points in the game and totaling seven steals and three blocked shots between them. As a team, the Irish turned the ball over 25 times, with 15 of those turnovers coming on Maryland steals.

“it’s a relief,” Miller commented After the game, pointing to Maryland advancing to the Elite Eight after failing to make it past the Sweet Sixteen in both the 2021 and 2022 NCAA Tournaments. Miller, who will likely hear her name drafted much earlier in the 2023 WNBA Draft if she decides not to use her COVID-19 eligibility to return to Maryland for another season, now has a chance to make history with the Terrapins. have a chance as they move forward. Greenville faces the top-seeded team from Region 1—and the hands-down favorite to win this year’s national championship.

The No. 1 seed South Carolina Gamecocks pulled off a win over the No. 4 UCLA Bruins, 59-43

UCLA vs South Carolina

Aliyah Boston led South Carolina in rebounding (14) as the Gamecocks’ usual advantage in the frontcourt once again put them ahead of UCLA.
Kevin C. Photo by Cox / Getty Images

The Gamecocks entered the 2023 NCAA Tournament as the only undefeated team in the country, and were viewed as favorites to repeat their successes from the previous year and repeat as national champions.

The Gamecocks’ Sweet Sixteen opponent, the Bruins, were one of the few teams to sign South Carolina during the 2022–23 regular season. During a non-conference matchup on November 29, UCLA led South Carolina by 10 points and remained within striking distance after giving up that lead in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks eventually pulled away to win 73–64, but it won’t be surprising if UCLA competes similarly during their Sweet Sixteen rematch.

At the start of Sunday’s game, however, the Gamecocks showed once again why they have been an impossible puzzle to solve, leaning on their significant size advantage in the frontcourt and physicality on the perimeter to stifle UCLA’s offense. In typical South Carolina fashion, the Gamecocks were patient with the basketball and relentless throughout; A pair of Brea Beal 3-pointers were the exclamation points in what was otherwise a battle in the paint, which South Carolina won handily.

To the Bruins’ credit, they didn’t prevent a 25–15 halftime deficit, but there was only so much their small frontcourt could do against the amount of height on the Gamecocks’ roster. As has been the case in nearly every South Carolina game this season, the Gamecocks’ frontcourt rotation of Aliyah Boston, Victoria Saxton, Kamila Cardoso and Leticia Amihere outclassed their opponents, with head coach Don Staley also determined to keep three of the four. Chose the option. Sometimes in court. All of this ensured that South Carolina out-rebounded UCLA (42–34), and while the Gamecocks’ halfcourt offense did not play at its usual high level, it still did more than enough to propel them past UCLA. .

The final numbers weren’t great: The Bruins shot just 29.4 percent from the field and South Carolina shot 38.1 percent. Both teams combined to shoot 17-of-25 from the free throw line, committing a total of 25 turnovers and had three quarters in which they did not break double-digit scoring.

However, it’s March, and the aesthetics of a victory aren’t nearly as important as the victory itself. For Staley and his team, they’ll happily improve to 35-0 as they prepare to take on Maryland — another non-conference foe they beat in the regular season — in the Elite Eight.

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