The NCAA women’s Final Four 2011 determined a brand new champion. But since the Final Four started off with Connecticut and Stanford involved, it seemed the same old queens would dominate the field. For much of the NCAA tournament, things were going exactly as planned, although Notre Dame and Texas A&M added some new wrinkles with Elite Eight upsets. They were still expected to be brushed aside in Indianapolis, yet, against all odds, they went down to the wire for the championship last night.
The Aggies hoped to have enough left over after beating Baylor and Stanford, while the Irish came off unparalleled consecutive wins over Tennessee and UConn. However, despite beating those two championship-laden programs, Notre Dame couldn’t beat a newcomer in Texas A&M, as the Aggies’ 76-70 win finished off their first title.
It didn’t look like it would be that difficult for Texas A&M early on, as they jumped out to a 29-16 lead. But the Irish clamped down before the half with a 19-4 run in the last eight minutes. As she did against Connecticut, Skylar Diggins seemed ready to take over another game.
But although Diggins became the breakout star of the Final Four Sunday, the new women’s champions got something more from Danielle Adams. The Aggies were carried by the senior center’s 22 second-half points, and 30 overall. She gave them the lead right back, and ballooned it to as much as seven before the Irish made a last rally and tied things up.
When Texas A&M got back up by 70-68, they were on the brink of a shot clock violation with a minute left. Yet Tyra White got off a three-point shot just in time, and once she made it, the Irish would not come so close again.
Seven turnovers in the first seven minutes put Notre Dame in a big early hole with 16 turnovers overall. But although they overcame their own mistakes by halftime, they couldn’t overcome Adams. They may have survived one of these factors, yet they couldn’t survive both in the same game.
Virtually everyone was quick to compare the women’s championship to the end of the men’s Final Four – and quite favorably. Although the men’s NCAA tournament had more shockers and surprises in the first several rounds, the females had the biggest drama in their last weekend. What’s more, they actually had a first time champion, although they’re supposed to have less parity than the men.
The 2011 basketball season had a fair share of surprising teams in both circuits, but only one Cinderella won it all – and in the least likely bracket. Texas A&M may not be a UConn or Tennessee right now, yet they proved that they can’t win it all every time.
ESPN- “NCAA Tournament Bracket – 2011”
Chicago Tribune- “Texas A&M downs Notre Dame 76-70 for NCAA crown”
Sacramento Bee- “Aggies win first NCAA title, withstand Irish in thriller”