Two to go: No. 1 South Carolina faces familiar foe, No. 1 Stanford draws Dana Evans in Elite Eight

Cassandra Negley
·5 min read

Two of the four berths are locked in. No. 1 UConn got past No. 2 Baylor in an instant classic to tip off Elite Eight action on Monday night. And No. 3 Arizona is in the Final Four for the first time in program history with a win over No. 4 Indiana. 

The final two spots will be determined on ESPN beginning at 7 p.m. Here's what to watch for when No. 1 South Carolina meets No. 6 Texas and No. 1 Stanford takes on No. 2 Louisville. 

Elite Eight schedule, TV, time

No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 6 Texas

Tuesday, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN

It's a rivalry renewed for South Carolina head coach Dawn Staley and first-year Texas head coach Vic Schaefer. The two squared off 15 times in the SEC when Schaefer headed Mississippi State, which played the Gamecocks in three consecutive SEC championship games. 

"We've had our battles in the SEC, and Vic's done a great job at Texas in his first year to get to this point," Staley said, via ESPN. "It's probably a great thing to have some familiarity with Texas and Vic, especially at this stage, because you get one day to prepare. He's trying to outfox us, and we're trying to outfox him."

Texas staged the upset of the 2021 tournament by stopping offensive juggernaut Maryland on Sunday night. The Longhorns kept them 30 points below their 91.2 average points per game, the 11th time in 12 games the Longhorns have kept the opponent below their season average. Their defense has kept No. 11 Bradley, No. 2 UCLA and No. 2 Maryland to 62 or 61 points each in the tournament. 

Texas is trying to reach the Final Four for the first time since 2003 and add a championship to the 1986 title. 

"I always look forward to playing Vic because of what he puts into his scouting reports, his game-planning and his scheming," Staley said, via ESPN. "It's good to know what you're going to face because you've seen it so many different times."

South Carolina, also seeking its second championship, showcased its depth in the Sweet 16 and might have to rely on it. Sophomore center Aliyah Boston, one of the best in the nation at the position, will be matching up against junior Charli Collier, who has said she will declare for the WNBA draft and is projected to go No. 1. 

Both stand 6-foot-5 and averaged double-doubles in the regular season. Boston averaged 13.9 points, 11.5 rebounds and 2.6 blocks. Collier averaged 19.5 points, 11.5 rebounds and 1.1 blocks. Their win shares are nearly identical at 9.6 and 9.4 respectively. 

No. 1 Stanford vs. No. 2 Louisville

Tuesday, 9 p.m. ET, ESPN

Get ready for the offense. Stanford and Louisville are two of the best shooting teams in the country at around 46 percent and 78 points per game. The Cardinal have the better defense overall, giving up an eight-best 53.1 points per game and keeping opponents to 35.9 percent from the floor. They're quick, lengthy and deep off the bench. 

But Louisville's has tightened up come tournament time. The Cardinals were up against the tough task of guarding Oregon's Sedona Prince (6-7) and Nyara Sabally (6-5) and did it well behind Olivia Cochran (6-3) and Liz Dixon (6-5). Freshman Hailey Van Lith, a 5-foot-7 guard, skillfully defended and boxed out Prince in the early minutes to set a tone. She and Mykasa Robinson each had seven rebounds to lead Louisville. 

"That's just the grit that those two have," Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said. "Those two are as tough of competitors as I've had come through this program in a long time. That's just embracing physicality. Both of them are willing to do that.''

Stanford can get scoring from anywhere, including from behind the arc where they score more than one-third of their points, per Her Hoop Stats. Seven players hit 3-pointers in the Sweet 16 win against Missouri State with Kiana Williams (6-for-12) and Hannah Jump (5-for-7) leading the way. 

It will be up to Louisville All-American Dana Evans to come alive again as she did in the Sweet 16 with 29 points. She said afterward she let the game come to her and received encouraging messages from former Louisville star Asia Durr, currently with the New York Liberty, and Walz. 

"I didn't focus on my shot. I focused on defense and getting my teammates going. That just opened everything up for me," Evans said. "Getting something easy around the basket instead of settling for 3s kind of helped me get going."

Van Lith is shooting 62.5 percent over the tournament's three games and averaging 12.7 points. She was hot from 3 in the first two contests and against Oregon secured seven rebounds. 

Louisville was last in the Final Four when Durr was a senior and Evans an ACC Freshman Player of the Year in 2018. The Cardinals have reached the championship twice, losing in both 2009 and '13 to UConn. Stanford last reached the Final Four in 2017 and is trying to add titles to ones from 1990 and 1992. 

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