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Follow live: Caitlin Clark, Iowa clash with Paige Bueckers and UConn

In Sports
April 06, 2024

The Madness is nearing its conclusion. After two weeks of basketball, there are only four teams remaining and it’ll be whittled down to two by the end of the night.

The Final Four tips off Friday with No. 1 South Carolina taking on No. 3 NC State in the first national semifinal. Dawn Staley’s Gamecocks are still undefeated at 36-0. A year ago, a very different undefeated South Carolina team was ousted from the Final Four by Iowa; will the Gamecocks make it to the title game and finish this season perfect?

Then the marquee matchup of the night tips later when Caitlin Clark and No. 1 Iowa take on Paige Bueckers and No. 3 UConn. The two superstars and their coaches insisted that the showdown is not about Clark vs. Bueckers, but there will nonetheless be plenty of eyeballs on the duo.

It should be an exciting night of action. Follow along live as the teams fight for a berth in the championship game on Sunday.

Final Four Friday schedule

Women’s schedule (all times Eastern):

7 p.m. — No. 1 South Carolina vs. No. 3 NC State (ESPN)

9:30 p.m. — No. 1 Iowa vs. No. 3 UConn (ESPN)

Live36 updates

  • It’s time for UConn-Iowa and there are some stars here courtside. Las Vegas Aces two-time WNBA champions A’ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young are sitting next to members of the South Carolina staff.

  • We’re 15 minutes from tip off of the UConn-Iowa semifinal and Caitlin Clark-Paige Bueckers showdown.

  • UConn great Diana Taurasi doesn’t think Caitlin Clark would be shooting logo 3s if she played for Geno Auriemma.

  • NC State could not keep up with South Carolina in any facet of the game.

    • Kamilla Cardoso got the best of them early and then could sit the entire fourth quarter, which could be very beneficial given that potential leg/ankle injury in the first half. She scored 22 points on an efficient 10-12.

    • Ashlyn Watkins nearly out-rebounded the entire NC State herself for much of the game. She finished with 20. The Wolfpack lost the battle, 46-32, and paint points, 44-20.

    • Which would have been OK, except NC State couldn’t hit from deep and barely made baskets otherwise. The team shot 32.2% overall, the second-worst performance of the season. And it went 6-of-23 on 3s.

    But a great run by the Wolfpack to make it the Final Four after starting the season off the radar. They weren’t a true Cinderella by any means, but it was still fun.

  • What a win by the Gamecocks. South Carolina advances to the national championship game with a 78-59 win over NC State.

    All-America center Kamilla Cardoso fueled a dominant South Carolina effort. She finished the game with 22 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks while sitting the entire fourth quarter of the blowout win. Ashlyn Watkins secured 20 rebounds off the bench as South Carolina controlled the boards with a 46-32 advantage. The Gamecocks shot 8 of 19 (42.1%) from 3 in a balanced inside-out offensive showing.

    The now 37-0 Gamecocks are a win away from a perfect championship season.

    Up next, Iowa and UConn face off for the right to face South Carolina in the title game.

  • Raven Johnson just walked back to the bench from the locker without a limp. Doubtful we see her again with South Carolina leading, 74-54 in the final two minutes. Her status will be a storyline to watch with Sunday’s championship game approaching.

  • South Carolina’s Raven Johnson just left the court to the locker room. She appears to be walking without issue, but clutched her right thigh as she left the court. The Gamecocks are in complete control midway through the fourth, but a concern with Sunday’s championship game on the horizon.

  • Dawn Staley’s not resting on the big South Carolina lead. She’s visibly displeased with a defensive lapse that allowed a Madison Hayes 3-pointer for NC State and called a timeout. South Carolina leads, 67-45 with 6:52 remaining.

  • Dawn Staley said yesterday every team here in Cleveland can see the finish line now. That third quarter from South Carolina felt like they see it coming closer. The Gamecocks shot 60% (5-9 on 3s) in a well-balanced scoring attack from all eight players who saw minutes. Great defense shutting down NC State. They’ve let up big leads this postseason, but tonight doesn’t feel like it’s going to be another.

  • NC State made one field goal on 11 attempts in the third quarter. South Carolina shot 12 of 20.

  • That was a championship-level third quarter from South Carolina. The Gamecocks seized control with a 29-6 run to turn a 32-31 halftime lead into a 61-37 edge after three quarters. Kamilla Cardoso’s controlling the post (22 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) while Gamecocks guards are hitting from deep.

    Bree Hall’s 3 pointer in the final two seconds capped the dominant stanza for South Carolina.

  • Kamilla Cardoso has 21 points, 11 rebounds and South Carolina in complete control.

  • South Carolina’s lead is now 55-36 late in the third quarter.. The Gamecocks are running away with a game they led by one at halftime.

  • This is the kind of dominance Dawn Staley wants from Cardoso. Her season high is 23 points and her career high is 25. She’ll almost certainly eclipse those in the biggest game of her career as a starter.

  • NC State’s in trouble. South Carolina’s on a 16-5 start to the third quarter, and Kamilla Cardoso’s just fine. She’s running the floor and finishing over outmatched Wolfpack defenders. The Gamecocks lead, 48-36 with 6:28 left in the third. Can the Wolfpack come up with an answer against the nation’s best team?

  • South Carolina’s on a 5-0 to start the third, and Kamilla Cardoso’s running without any apparent limitations. Best-case scenario for the Gamecocks, who now lead, 37-31.

  • Good news for the Gamecocks. Kamilla Cardoso’s warming up for the third quarter.

  • The good news for NC State is its trailing by one at halftime despite shooting 36.4% overall and 3-of-10 from 3. The Wolfpack made it this far with wins over Tennessee, Stanford and Texas by shooting better than 43% in each of those games and hitting at least five 3s. Against Texas, the Wolfpack hit nine, two off tying a season high.

    For South Carolina, going without Cardoso in the second half would be a tall task since she was dominant so far. She’s back out with the team warming up at halftime. She has kinesiology tape around her left knee.

  • End of 2Q: South Carolina 32, NC State 31

    A much closer first two quarters than many were anticipating in Cleveland. Kamilla Kardoso’s status looms large at the break.

  • South Carolina’s in a battle at halftime, holding a 32-31 lead. All eyes are on the health of Kamilla Cardoso. She left for the locker room in the final moments of the half after appearing to tweak her ankle. The South Carolina center took over in the second quarter en route to 16 points and seven rebounds.

    NC State’s countered with an aggressive defense that’s forced 10 South Carolina turnovers. All-ACC guard Aziaha James has 10 points including a pair of 3-pointers.

  • Kamilla Cardoso just limped back to the locker room after a fall late in the second quarter. Nature of her injury isn’t clear, but a scare for South Carolina. The All-SEC center is dominating the game early with 16 points and seven rebounds. Seems unlikely we’ll see her again before halftime.

  • Sloppy ball security remains an early theme. South Carolina has 10 turnovers midway through the second quarter. NC State has seven.

  • Kamilla Cardoso’s taking over. The All-SEC center has 14 points and is 6-for-6 from the field. She’s scored 10 straight Gamecocks points. South Carolina leads, 26-22.

  • It’s a battle through one quarter. Game’s tied at 16-16 with All-ACC guard Aziaha James leading NC State with eight points including a pair of 3-pointers.. South Carolina has six steals through the first, but hasn’t been able to convert the turnovers into a lead.

  • A strong start for NC State has the Wolfpack up 12-9 at the first break (3:11 first quarter). Aziaha James has two 3-pointers, while both teams have turned the ball over four times in a somewhat sloppy opening quarter. How will South Carolina respond?

  • NC State responds with seven unanswered points for a 7-5 lead. An Aziaha James puts the Wolfpack in front.

  • And we’re off. South Carolina wins the opening to to start the Final Four. Te-Hina Paopao and Raven Johnson on the board first with a floater and a 3 for a 5-0 Gamecocks lead.

  • We’re moments from tipoff with NC State looking to spoil South Carolina’s undefeated season two wins short of a national championship.

  • Ranking the Women’s Final Four starters, from 1-20

    Click photo to read story. (Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

    Click photo to read story. (Eakin Howard/Getty Images)

  • With both teams still standing, UConn and NC State are in unprecedented territory

    Click photo to read story. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/Getty Images)

    Click photo to read story. (Brad Horrigan/Hartford Courant/Getty Images)

  • Geno Auriemma explains why he didn’t recruit Caitlin Clark to her ‘dream school’ UConn

    Click photo to read story. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

    Click photo to read story. (Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

  • Why this Final Four field is a surprise, despite the iconic brands and superstars

    Click photo to read story. (Brendall O'Banon/Getty Images)

    Click photo to read story. (Brendall O’Banon/Getty Images)

  • How South Carolina rebuilt itself and became an even bigger juggernaut after roster overhaul

    Click photo to read story. (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

    Click photo to read story. (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

  • We still have about 20 minutes until tip of the South Carolina-NC State semifinal game, so here’s some reading material to get you ready for the action tonight.

  • Good evening folks and welcome to our Final Four live tracker!

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