GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Raina Perez hit a jumper from near the left elbow with 2.1 seconds left to help No. 3 North Carolina State beat fifth-ranked Louisville 58-56 in Sunday’s championship game of the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.
Perez’s shot broke a tie game in a tense finish between two of the nation’s top teams in which neither led by more than one point over the final 4 minutes. And it secured the Wolfpack’s first back-to-back titles in program history.
On the winning play, Perez initially started to pass to teammate Elissa Cunane rolling into the lane, but had to pull the ball back when the pass wasn’t there. Instead, she collected her feet and shook off six straight misses dating to the second quarter to bury the jumper for the second-seeded Wolfpack (20-2).
The top-seeded Cardinals (23-3) had a final chance to win it, inbounding the ball under their own basket with 1 second left. But Dana Evans missed a 3 off Kianna Smith’s inbounds pass at the horn, sending Wolfpack players spilling to center court to celebrate.
No. 4 STANFORD 75, No. 9 UCLA 55
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Kiana Williams scored 26 points to lead Stanford to the Pac 12 Tournament championship with a win over UCLA.
Stanford, which has made the Pac-12 championship game 18 times in 20 total tournaments, improved to 14-4 in the finals while winning its third title in five years.
Lexie Hull added 24 points while Haley Jones finished with 10 points and 13 rebounds for Stanford (25-2).
Michaela Onyenwere led UCLA (16-5) with 30 points. Charisma Osborne finished with 11 points and five rebounds for the Bruins.
The game was a renewal of one of the more storied rivalries in Pac 12 postseason history, as Stanford has played UCLA more than any other team in the Pac-12 Tournament. The Cardinal improved to 11-1 against the Bruins in the event – including four wins in championship meetings.
No. 7 SOUTH CAROLINA 67, No. 16 GEORGIA 62
GREENVILLE, S.C. (AP) — Aliyah Boston had 27 points and 10 rebounds as South Carolina pulled away in the third quarter to beat Georgia and win its second straight SEC Tournament title — and sixth in the past seven years.
It was a historic matchup that featured two Black head coaches in the title game for the first time in SEC history with South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and Georgia’s Joni Taylor.
The Gamecocks (22-4), twice the country’s No. 1 team this season, struggled down the stretch with three losses in their last seven games, including a defeat at No. 2 Texas A&M a week ago where they watched the Aggies cut down nets to celebrate an SEC regular-season title.
The Bulldogs closed to 65-62 on Que Morrison’s 3-pointer with 14.4 seconds left. Boston then followed with a pair of foul shots and South Carolina held on for its 14th straight victory over Georgia. Morrison finished with 20 points for the Bulldogs (20-6).
No. 1 UCONN 84, VILLANOVA 39
UNCASVILLE, Conn. (AP) — Christyn Williams scored 26 points and UConn used a stifling defense to overwhelm Villanova in the semifinals of the Big East Tournament.
Paige Bueckers had 18 points and eight assists and Olivia Nelson-Ododa added 13 points and seven rebounds for Connecticut (23-1).
The Huskies will play for their 19th Big East title in their first year back in the league after spending seven seasons dominating the American Athletic Conference.
Connecticut put the game away in the first half, holding Villanova to just five baskets on 33 shots over the first 20 minutes (15%) and outscoring the Wildcats 20-3 in the second quarter.
The Wildcats had just 15 baskets in the game, shooting 18% from the floor.
Sarah Mortensen had 15 points to lead Villanova (15-6). Maddy Siegrist, the Big East’s leading scorer, put up her team’s first points on a three-point play, but was held scoreless the rest of the game.
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