TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — All-American Jewell Loyd scored 22 points and Madison Cable’s only basket of the game lifted Notre Dame to a 66-65 victory over Final Four newcomer South Carolina in the national semifinals on Sunday night.
The Irish (36-2) advanced to the NCAA championship game for the fourth time in five years, surviving a scoring drought that lasted nearly seven minutes down the stretch.
The Irish have not been able to win it all since coach Muffet McGraw led them to their only national title in 2001.
Loyd said no one boxed out Cable on her game-winning basket, adding: “She’s done it all year. She’s the MVP.”
South Carolina (34-3) overcame a 12-point, first-half deficit and did it again in the closing minutes. The Gamecocks used a 13-0 run to take their only lead on Aleighsa Welch’s putback with 1:12 remaining.
Notre Dame will face UConnfor the title on Tuesday night in a rematch of last season’s championship game.
Regarding UConn’s win on Sunday: Meantime, Breanna Stewart scored 25 points and Morgan Tuck added 24 to lead the team to an 81-58 win over Maryland in the Final Four, leaving the Huskies one win away from a third straight national championship.
The Huskies have won nine titles overall and a victory over the Irish would tie Geno Auriemma with vaunted UCLA men’s coach John Wooden for the most all-time with 10. It also would be the second three-peat for UConn, which won three straight championships from 2002-04.
Tuck missed last season’s championship run while she was recovering from microfracture surgery on her right knee that allowed her to only play in eight games.
The redshirt sophomore made her presence felt on the game’s biggest stage.