Kentucky’s sharp shooting ends Gonzaga’s run
Kentucky didn’t need its “40 minutes of dread” full-court press to beat Gonzaga.
It just needed a quick strike from long range.
Keyla Snowden made five 3-pointers, hitting a pair of them to turn back the Bulldogs’ last charge on Sunday as Kentucky beat Gonzaga 79-62 to advance to the East Regional finals of the NCAA women’s tournament.
Snowden had 17 points, going 5 of 9 from 3-point range, and Samarie Walker scored 16 with 12 rebounds for No. 2 seed Kentucky, which plays top-seeded Connecticut on Tuesday for a spot in the Final Four in Denver. UConn beat Penn State 77-59 earlier in the day.
It’s the second trip to the regional finals for Kentucky (28-6) in three years.
Kayla Standish scored 25 for No. 11 seed Gonzaga (28-6), which reached the round of 16 for the third consecutive year.
Kentucky, which blew a 17-point lead in the second round against Wisconsin-Green Bay before holding on to win, led by 21 in the second half on Sunday before the Zags cut it to 59-51. Three times Gonzaga had the ball with a chance to further trim the deficit, but it couldn’t do so.
The Wildcats finally pulled away on their fourth trip down, when Snowden hit a 3 to make it an 11-point game. It was 64-53 when Snowden hit another 3, and Gonzaga never threatened again.
What had been a decent crowd for the early game between local favorite Connecticut and Penn State dwindled to just a few hundred when Kentucky took a 43-28 lead into the half. And just a few hundred fans remained when the Wildcats band played “My Old Kentucky Home” after the final buzzer.
Kentucky led the entire game, opening a 15-point lead at halftime and turning it into a 21-point advantage with 14 minutes left.
A’dia Mathies, the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year, went 3 for 4 from 3-point range and added seven assists. Kastine Evans grabbed 10 rebounds for the Wildcats and Bria Goss had 10 points.
Kelly Bowen scored 11 with nine rebounds and Katelan Redmon had 10 and seven for Gonzaga, which beat Rutgers and Miami to reach the regional semis.
The Zags’ trip to Rhode Island won’t go to waste: The players — none of whom had ever been to the state — said they planned to dip their toes in the Atlantic Ocean before heading home.
Kentucky beat McNeese State by six in the first round and squeaked by Green Bay in the second. But the Wildcats didn’t need their vaunted full-court pressure — dubbed “40 minutes of dread” — to move just one game from joining the Kentucky men in the NCAA Final Four.