Louisville beats Michigan 62-50 to return to Final Four | Sports News

By DAVE SKRETTA, AP Basketball Writer

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Hailey Van Lith scored 22 points, Olivia Cochran made a series of crucial baskets in the final minutes and Louisville held off Michigan 62-50 in a physical game Monday night to return to the Final Four for the fourth time in the history of the program.

Chelsie Hall added 15 points and Emily Engstler balanced a poor shooting night with 16 rebounds and some big plays on defense, helping the top-seeded Cardinals (29-4) face South Carolina next weekend. in Minneapolis.

The No. 3 seed Wolverines (25-7) was within 52-50 with less than 3 minutes to go when the Cardinals, using trick ball movement to get out of a half-court trap, found Cochran for an easy lay-up. Then, on the other end, Michigan star Naz Hillmon was called in to charge, and Cochran added another bucket to give Louisville some breathing room.

The Cardinals completed their second win over the Wolverines this season from the foul line.

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Hillmon finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Wolverines, who held their first three tournament opponents to within 50 points to reach their first regional final but were unable to hold off the Cardinals for the full 40 minutes. .

The start looked like the two teams matchup in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge – much to the chagrin of the Wolverines – as coach Kim Barnes Arico’s side missed their first eight shots and allowed a very pro-Louisville crowd to energize.

Unlike that January game, however, when the Cardinals unwound a 25-2 streak through the first two quarters and earned a lopsided 70-48 victory, the Maize and Blue decided to do battle with the Final Four. stake.

Maddie Nolen came off the bench to drop two 3-pointers. Hillmon went to work inside, getting easy buckets on the rim as she didn’t lure the Cardinals into trouble. And talented rookie Laila Phelia, perhaps the best embodiment of leading a burgeoning program, managed to shake off her defender for a few easy baskets.

The problem for Michigan quickly became turnovers — not surprising given the Cardinals had forced more than 20 games in the tournament. So while the Wolverines were stingy in the half-court defensively, Louisville capitalized on 11 turnovers with 14 points in transition, which helped Jeff Walz’s team take a 30-27 lead into the break.

The main reason Michigan was able to stay despite 22 turnovers and an atrocious 3-point shot was a huge disparity on the foul line. The Wolverines were 15 of 20 on free throws while the Cardinals shot just five in total until they were sent in for four more in the final minutes.

Michigan has made great strides under Barnes Arico, reaching the Sweet 16 last season and coming within a victory of its first Final Four this season. Young players like Phelia show there’s a lot more to come in Ann Arbor too.

Louisville has never won a national championship despite becoming a constant contender under Walz for the past 15 seasons. The Cardinals get another shot to finally cut the nets.

More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness and https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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