Former Zag, current Husky now fan at Final Four

Like the advice she gives, Staley did not focus on the fact she was playing her former coach and mentor, nor the fact that VanDerveer is the second-winningest coach in women's college basketball history.

That Virginia team led by Staley lost in the semifinals of the 1990 and 1992 Final Fours to Stanford, when coach Tara VanDerveer was in her first seasons with the Cardinal and they won their only two national titles.

The team had a 9-0 run in the second, and outscored the Cardinal 21-9 by the end of the 3rd. "I said, 'Huh? What is wrong with you?"

"Just as your point guard initiates your offense, your on-ball defender initiates your defense", Gamecocks coach Frank Martin said Friday.

Dan Dickau, a college basketball analyst who a star for Gonzaga during its 2001 and 2002 Tournament appearances, has high hopes the Zags can turn the Final Four into just a step on their way to a potential national championship. Here are four things you need to know about the Gamecocks before the Final Four kicks off on Saturday at 6:09 p.m. on CBS. Wilson finished with a double-double, scoring 13 points with 19 rebounds while Gray led the team with 18 points.

"Their bigs are huge", South Carolina's Sindarius Thornwell said.

Alanna Smith got Stanford within 53-50 with 2:10 to play, but SC scored the next five points to force a Cardinal timeout and the Gamecocks secured the victory.

At halftime the Stanford Cardinal were leading 29-20 at American Airlines Arena.

But the Gamecocks didn't panic.

The matchup with SC brings together two of the best defensive teams in the country as Gonzaga (86.0) ranks first and the Gamecocks (87.8) are second in points allowed per 100 possessions. It was the first lead for USC since early in the second quarter.

The Tar Heels were the national leader on the offensive glass during the regular season, snatching 15.74 per game, almost a full rebound more than the next-closest team.

SC extended its edge to six points when Cuevas-Moore hit a jumper to cap the run with 1:44 left in the third quarter.

"The looks in their faces weren't looks of defeat".

"The rim protection that we have this year is different than anything we've been able to put out there", Bulldogs coach Mark Few said. "I mean, they've been just unbelievably consistent". "Just the physicality of it, we have to guard and not let them get easy paint touches". Even if the Zags find themselves trailing late, South Carolina's sketchy free-throw shooting could facilitate a comeback.

HOT SHOT: Oregon's Tyler Dorsey is shooting 65 per cent (17 for 26) from 3-point range in the tournament.

"It has significantly changed the way we've done stuff", he says.

The four-time defending national champion Huskies, in their 10th consecutive Final Four, play Mississippi State in the nightcap Friday. This was one of them...

Back in November, the Sun-Times' season preview referred to the Class of 2016 as an "incredible group" and a "nonstop story" that would keep us entertained all the way to the first weekend in April. After the second half, Wilson added nine points and 11 rebounds.

Both teams use a pair of point guards and whichever one can establish their pace and tempo will be important. "Everything worked out and I am glad to be here with my teammates". "Kept positive thoughts into my mind". SC regained the lead and led at the quarter 14-12.

Thornwell, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, missed Thursday's practice when he wasn't feeling well. Tennessee was also the last SEC team to win a NCAA title in 2008.

  • Julie Sanders