The Bears were perfect last season and won the NCAA March Madness Tournament Championship. But they will not win back-to-back championships with their setback.
The upset is one of the biggest in the history of the Women’s Basketball March Madness Tournament. And now, Louisville will face the Tennessee Volunteers on Tuesday night.
In addition, the loss marked the end of Brittney Griner‘s basketball career as one of the best in the sport.
“I’m just sad,” Griner said. “I didn’t do what I needed to do to get my team to the Elite Eight and just disappointment in myself.”
She actually made a foul with 2.6 seconds left with the Bears leading 81-80. Then, Monique Reid knocked down both free throws to give the Cardinals the big win.
The Cardinals had a 17-point lead in the final 7 ½ minutes.
Baylor’s Odyssey Sims scored 29 points and made two key free throws with 9.1 seconds that gave the Bears the 81-80 lead. She also made an attempt to win the game with a desperation heave that missed and ended their season.
And with the loss, Griner ends her career as the second-highest scoring player in NCAA history. She also ends her remarkable career atop the blocks and dunks records.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “It’s hard to lose when it’s your last game, but it’s even harder the way that game ended. Makes it a little tougher.”
Griner was held scoreless in the first half. And she did not score her first basket until 15:20 in the second half when she put back a basket for her first points. She would end the game with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cardinals doubled and tripled team Griner on every possession. It was a zone defense, but Louisville head coach Jeff Walz said that it was a “claw and one”
With this zone defense, he put a Cardinal in front of Griner and one behind her. Then, he had another girl in the vicinity of her at all times.
“I think I could smell what toothpaste she used,” Antonita Slaughter said. “I was in her face the whole time with my hands up.”
Normally, the Bears would be able to knock down shots when Griner passed them the ball. However, that was not the case, as the Cardinals had a huge lead until late in the second half when the game was close.
The Cardinals scored 43 points in the second half, compared to the Bears 52 points.
“Our goal was to score, score and score. I told our kids if we had to take 40 to 50 3s we would,” Walz said. “I don’t know if we could go out there right now 5-on-0 and go 16 of 25, but we did it in the biggest game of the year for us and now we’re going to hopefully keep our momentum going and see what we can do on Tuesday.”
In the first half, the Bears had just 29 points. The Cardinals went into the break with a 39-29 point lead.