Hailey Van Lith scores 22 points as she leads Louisville to its first Final Four appearance since 2018 after defeating Michigan. (1:25)
WICHITA, Kan. — One ACC No. 1 women’s basketball seed suffered Elite Eight heartbreak on Monday, but the other is headed to the Final Four.
Louisville, the top seed here in Wichita, held off a gritty Michigan team that was appearing in the program’s first Elite Eight, 62-50. It will be the Cardinals’ fourth trip to the Final Four; they lost in the championship game in 2009 and 2013, and in the semifinals in 2018.
Louisville will face overall No. 1 seed South Carolina in Friday’s semifinals.
When the Cardinals and Wolverines met Dec. 2 in Louisville, it was no contest. The Cardinals dominated every aspect of that game, winning 70-48. And at least personnel-wise, there wasn’t much change in the two teams nearly four months later. But Monday’s game was very different.
While many eyes were glued to the double-overtime drama at the Bridgeport Regional involving No. 2 seed UConn and No. 1 seed NC State and won by the Huskies, Louisville and Michigan battled for a first half that ended with the Cardinals up 30-27.
And while it felt like Louisville was in control for most of the game, the Wolverines were never far behind. Led by All-American senior post player Naz Hillmon, Michigan won the rebounding battle — something the Wolverines didn’t do in December.
Michigan was within two points, 52-50, with 5 minutes, 40 seconds left. And it stayed that way for nearly 3 minutes before Louisville scored on Olivia Cochran’s layup with 2:52 left. Then the Cardinals’ defense really turned up the heat and continued to dominate to finish out the game; Michigan never did score again.
Hillmon finished with 18 points and 11 rebounds, her fourth double-double in this NCAA tournament.
Louisville sophomore guard Hailey Van Lith led the Cardinals with 22 points; she is the first Cardinals women’s player to have four consecutive 20-point games in the NCAA tournament. Van Lith was named the regional’s most outstanding player; Louisville is 11-0 in games in which she scores at least 20 points.