Best of Monday: Road to Tampa and the Final Four

The Final Four of the 2019 women’s NCAA tournament is set.

Baylor, the No. 1 overall seed, will face No. 2 seed Oregon — which is making its Final Four debut — at 7 p.m. ET Friday (ESPN2/ESPN App) in Tampa, Florida. Defending NCAA champion Notre Dame will play UConn at 9 p.m. ET Friday (ESPN2/ESPN App).

We compiled the top results, sights and sounds of Monday.

Here’s what you need to know about the results:

+ Women’s Final Four preview: Why each team could win in Tampa

+ Second-half surge pushes Notre Dame past Stanford and into Women’s Final Four

Monday’s results

The Greensboro Regional final went exactly as Baylor hoped, which was the equivalent of a nightmare for Iowa. The Lady Bears dominated the game from the start, bottling up the Hawkeyes’ offense and earning Baylor its first trip to the Final Four since 2012.

In the six years since they went 40-0 and won the NCAA title, the Lady Bears have lost in the Elite Eight four times and the Sweet 16 twice. But no one has challenged them so far in this tournament, as they’ve won their four games by 57, 39, 25 and 32 points.

The Lady Bears made more layups (22) than the Hawkeyes made field goals (18). Baylor scored almost as many points in the paint (52) as Iowa totaled. It was Iowa’s second-largest loss in the NCAA tournament; the worst was by 38 points to UConn in 2002’s second round.

Lauren Cox led the Lady Bears with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists. Fellow post player Kalani Brown had 14 points and seven rebounds, while guard DiDi Richards had 16 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 6 steals. Point guard Chloe Jackson added 14 points.

Iowa star Megan Gustafson, the espnW National Player of the Year, finished with 23 points and nine rebounds. She didn’t have a rebound in the second half and fell one rebound short of what would have been her 34th double-double of the season. — Mechelle Voepel

The defending national champion Irish took a while to warm up, and had some anxiety after trailing 33-26 at halftime, their second-largest deficit at the break this season. But in the second half, the Irish looked a lot more like themselves and advanced to the Final Four for the ninth time.

Notre Dame scored as many points in the third quarter as it did in the first half. The Irish’s sensational backcourt of Jackie Young (25 points) and Arike Ogunbowale (21) did what they’ve done so often: take over the game.

"We’ve got to be ready and focused every single minute," Notre Dame coach Muffet McGraw said of what the Irish will need as they prepare to face UConn for the 50th time overall and eighth time in the Final Four. Last year, the Irish beat the Huskies in overtime in the national semifinals.

Notre Dame didn’t look as focused as McGraw wanted in Monday’s first half, but credit goes to the Stanford defense. The Irish were 1-of-19 on contested shots in the first half, missing their first 18. McGraw was worried the Irish wouldn’t be able to flip the switch.

But they did by getting the ball in the paint and getting better looks. Notre Dame outscored Stanford 40-12 in the paint in the second half. — Mechelle Voepel

Tough ending tonight for @StanfordWBB, but the future is so bright, coach Tara VanDerveer’s gotta wear shades. Great recruiting class includes Haley Jones and Fran Belibi. The Cardinal are going to be very fun to watch.

— Mechelle Voepel (@MechelleV) April 2, 2019
UConn vs. Notre Dame: They meet again

Sue Bird. Skylar Diggins. Arike Ogunbowale. Breanna Stewart. Some of the game’s best players have produced the top plays in what has become the greatest rivalry in women’s college basketball.

And on Friday, UConn and Notre Dame will meet for the 50th time.

Before they met earlier this season, espnW ranked the 10 best plays in the storied rivalry. Story »

Everybody’s talking about …

Sorry, but I DO love Mulkeys outfit

But there’s nothing like your favorite T-shirt

That’s certainly an interesting wardrobe choice for Mr. Cox 🧐#ncaaW | @BaylorWBB

— NCAA WBB (@ncaawbb) April 1, 2019
Nowhere we’d rather be, either

This is the stuff right here!! 💛🖤💛#Hawkeyes #ncaaW

— Iowa Women’s BBall (@IowaWBB) April 1, 2019
Deeper reads

Muffet McGraw is fighting for wins, equality and another title. Will Notre Dame’s coach ever be able to enjoy success more than she fears failure? Wayne Drehs »

Nobody in college basketball has mastered the triple-double like Sabrina Ionescu. Can she now lead the Oregon Ducks to an NCAA championship? Elizabeth Merrill »

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