Time and Place: 7:30 p.m. ET March 31, American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX.
Where to Watch: ESPN2, channel 42.2 on Storrs channel listing. Follow @dcsportsdept for Final Four coverage throughout the week
Last Meeting: The Cardinals are a perfect 5-0 in the series between the two teams, with the last win coming on Dec. 19, 2012, when Stanford was ranked No. 1 in the country. This victory came months after Stanford knocked off South Carolina in the Sweet 16 by a score of 76-60.
Stanford’s Last Time Out: The Cardinal moved their win streak to eight in a row with their upset victory over No. 1 seed Notre Dame by blocking a Notre Dame shot at the buzzer. In the 76-75 win, junior Brittany McPhee had a game-high 27 as the Cardinal outscored the Fighting Irish by 15 in the second half.
South Carolina’s Last Time Out: The Gamecocks were able to hold off a late Florida State rally, topping the Seminoles 71-64 to return to the Final Four for the second time in three seasons. Junior Kaela Davis had her third game in a row with 20 or more points, as she finished with a game-high 23 points on 10-15 shooting from the floor.
Projected Starting Lineups:
No. 2 Stanford (32-5) vs. No. 1 South Carolina (31-4)
G: Briana Roberson vs. Bianca Cuevas-Moore
Team captain and senior Briana Roberson is coming off a seven points and three assists performance in the Elite 8. She is averaging 6.5 points, 2.5 assists and 1.9 rebounds per game, but her biggest quality is her ability not to turn the ball over: she has the second fewest turnovers for players in the starting lineup. The junior guard from the Bronx, Moore is the speed for the Gamecocks, helping them rank 25th in the NCAA in defense and sixth in field goal percentage defense. On the year, she is averaging 8.4 points and 1.9 assists per outing, averaging 8.3 points and 1.8 assists this NCAA tournament.
G: Brittany McPhee vs. Tyasha Harris
The junior guard submitted one of her best performances of the season against Notre Dame, dropping 27 points and dishing out four assists in the win. McPhee has had a breakout junior season, accumulating 25 double figure scoring performances this year. She is second on the team averaging 13.4 points per game on 45.3 percent shooting from the field. In her inaugural season, Harris has become a valuable addition to the Gamecock rotation, averaging 5.5 points and 3.3 assists on 43.5 percent shooting. Against Florida State, the freshman had a career high 16 points and six rebounds in the win.
G: Karlie Samuelson vs. Kaela Davis
Not to be confused with sister Katie Lou, the senior Karlie has a career 44.5 3-point percentage and has the Stanford record with 96 made 3-pointers in a season. This season she is shooting 49 percent from behind the arc, averaging 12.8 points and is second on the team with 101 assists this year. Arguably no one has been hotter in the NCAA tournament then Davis, as she was named the NCAA regional MVP. In the seven postseason games, she is scoring 18 points on 51.7 percent shooting and in the three closest games of the season, she is averaging 20 points on 53.7 percent shooting.
F: Kaylee Johnson vs. Allisha Gray
For the Cardinal, Johnson provides size with her 6-foot-3 frame and 5.1 rebounds per game. Against Notre Dame, Johnson only played six minutes, averaging 14.4 for the season. Junior guard Allisha Gray has led the team twice this tournament in rebounds per game, having assumed the role of power forward due to Alaina Coates being out with an injury. In the seven outings with a depleted lineup, Gray is averaging 14 points, 6.9 rebounds, one block while 62.5 percent from the field.
F: Erica McCall vs. A’Ja Wilson
McCall is the leading scorer and rebounder for the Cardinal, averaging 13.8 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. The senior is 24th in program history in points with 1,362, seventh in rebounds with 962 and fourth in blocks with 198. AP-First Team All-American A’Ja Wilson has not disappointed this tournament, averaging 19.8 points on 62.8 percent shooting. This tournament, she has so far accumulated 79 points, which is the most in one season’s tournament in South Carolina history. For either team to make it to finals, the winner of this matchup will be key, as these two are arguably the best two players on their respective squads.
Closing out the Cardinals: In five of their last six games, Stanford has trailed by at least seven points, but has gone on to win. They trailed by seven late in the second quarter in the Sweet 16 and by 16 points in the second half against Notre Dame. South Carolina has not trailed in the past two games and has only trailed for 17 minutes this entire tournament.
Kaela Davis on Stanford: “Stanford, they’re playing really, really, really well right now. I think, what was it, 80 assists on 105 field goals is what they’re doing in the tournament now. That’s crazy. They’re sharing the ball, shooting the ball well. They’re getting scoring from a lot of different players, production from a lot of different players.”
Balanced Gamecock attack: Five players have recorded at least one 20-point game this season; Wilson leads with 13 and Davis is second with eight. Wilson, Davis, Gray and the injured Coates all also have 1,000 or more career points as Davis has 1,701 in her career between South Carolina and Georgia Tech.
Matt Kren is a staff writer for The Daily Campus, covering women’s basketball. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.