The No. 5-seeded Louisville Cardinals did what no team in women's college basketball seemed to be able to do—defeat the No. 1-seeded Baylor Lady Bears.
Led by Antonita Slaughter, the Cardinals stunned Baylor 82-81 Sunday night in Oklahoma City.
The Lady Bears came into the tournament as the overwhelming favorites to defend their 2012 crown, having been beaten just four times in three years. They'd won their past 32 games and appeared primed to launch another strong title-winning campaign this year like they had done the year before, with their star Brittney Griner in seemingly unstoppable form.
However, against the offensive brilliance of Louisville and sheer determination in defense, it would be the Cardinals who emerged triumphant and through to the Elite Eight of the women's NCAA tournament.
Set up by a 12-6 run by the Cardinals heading into halftime, the No. 5 seed made an incredible 16 three-pointers on the night to tie an NCAA tournament record en route to one of the most incredible upsets seen in recent history, let alone in women's college basketball.
The Lady Bears would rally late—slashing an 18-point lead to just one point in the final minute, then briefly taking a one-point lead—but could not overcome the Cardinals.
Slaughter finished with 21 points and six rebounds (including seven three-pointers), while Shoni Schimmel added 22 points for the upset queens.
Odyssey Sims led Baylor with an incredible 29 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and five assists whilst Jordan Madden and Brooklyn Pope also chalked up double-digit scores. But the biggest talking point was the performance of star Brittney Griner—who turned in one of her worst performances of the year for the Lady Bears to end her college career.
Griner finished with 14 points on 4-of-10 shooting and took until the 15:28 mark of the second half to record a single field goal. That, coming from the hottest star in the game and a player who averages 24.1 points and 9.4 rebounds per game, is simply incredible.
Griner is by far the best female player in college basketball at the moment and will go down as one of the true greats of the game. Her 3,283 points are the second-most ever by a female college player; her 748 blocks and 18 dunks are the most ever in women's college basketball.
The Lady Bears star is the three-time Big 12 Player of the Year and reigning Naismith Trophy and Wooden Award holders. She was also awarded the AP Player of the Year last year and appeared likely to win the award again this year—something that this loss could affect.
Simply put, Griner is the strongest female basketball player in college, and any team with her isn't expected to lose. After all, Baylor has had phenomenal success since Griner became part of their starting lineup and has become the clear best team in the country.
The Lady Bears not only came into this game as massive favorites, they came into the entire tournament largely expected to continue their recent dominance.
Having only been beaten four times in three years—recording 100 wins and three Big 12 tournament titles in that time—Baylor's success in women's college basketball is simply incredible, and should have resulted in another tournament victory here.
However, it seems somebody forgot to tell the Cardinals.
The win capped off a huge night for Louisville basketball, with the men defeating Duke to move through to the NCAA tournament's Final Four. And while this win might only put the Cardinals through to the Elite Eight, there is little doubting that this is just as big of a victory.
If Baylor were going to lose a game in the tournament this year—and that's a big if—it was surely going to come in the later stages. It certainly wasn't going to come in the Sweet 16.
Yet, thanks to the most incredible of shooting performances and a defensive effort that left their opponents motionless, the upset did indeed take place.
Baylor is out, and the No. 5 Cardinals are through at their expense. That would be why they call it March Madness.
What did you make of Louisville's incredible upset of the Baylor Lady Bears?
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