NCAA Final Four scores: Iowa tops UConn in controversial thriller, South Carolina throttles NC State

CLEVELAND, OHIO - APRIL 05: Caitlin Clark #22 of the Iowa Hawkeyes reaches for the ball as Paige Bueckers #5 of the UConn Huskies reacts in the second half during the NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament Final Four semifinal game at Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse on April 05, 2024 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Caitlin Clark, Iowa survive against UConn

A stifling UConn defense held Caitlin Clark and Iowa to their worst first half of the season.

It wasn't enough.

The Hawkeyes found their footing in the third quarter and then battled through the fourth to rally past the Huskies for a 71-69 win to secure a trip to the national championship game. Iowa looked in control while holding a three-possession late in the fourth quarter. But victory wasn't in hand until a late UConn turnover on a controversial offensive foul.

Read the full story from Jason Owens right here.

South Carolina still perfect

No. 1 South Carolina is still undefeated and advancing to the NCAA tournament championship game after a 78-59 win over No. 3 NC State on Friday.

Projected WNBA lottery pick Kamilla Cardoso led the Gamecocks with 22 points and 11 rebounds despite an injury scare in the second quarter. Sophomore forward Ashlyn Watkins contributed a whopping 20 rebounds from the bench.

NC State's story this season has been all about exceeding expectations, and that trend continued through the first half of the team's Final Four matchup with the Gamecocks. Twenty minutes into Friday's game, the Wolfpack showcased how they were able to upset No. 2 seed Stanford and No. 1 seed Texas in the tournament.

Read the full story from Callie Lawson-Freeman right here.

  • Iowa soaking it in after earning a second straight trip to the national title game.

  • Final: Iowa 71, UConn 69

    Caitlin Clark had to grind through a full game with Nika Muhl on her, but Hannah Stuelke came up huge as Iowa notches a Final Four comeback win.

    Their reward will be a date with undefeated, No. 1 overall seed on Sunday.

  • She makes the first, misses the second, but Iowa gets the rebound. It results in a held ball, but Iowa has the possession arrow! 1.1 seconds left, 71-69 Iowa.

  • Caitlin Clarks gets the inbound and will shoot free throws.

  • Verdict?

  • That call was pretty iffy, and it might decide what has been a wild game.

  • WHOA. The refs call an offensive foul on Aaliyah Edwards and it'll be Iowa ball up 1 with 3.9 seconds left. Looks like it was a hard screen on Gabby Marshall.

  • Caitlin Clark gets the ball with 39 seconds left and opts to burn clock, but the possession results in a turnover. It'll be UConn ball with 9.3 seconds left. Here we go.

  • What a huge play for UConn. The Huskies pressure Hannah Stuelke up top and come away with a steal, then Nika Muhl hits a 3-pointer to make it 70-69. After a slow start, this is definitely a game.

  • After a couple of big Kate Martin baskets and an empty possession for UConn, it's 70-66 Iowa with a minute remaining. And now UConn starts fouling?

  • A Nika Muhl steal and Paige Bueckers 3 cuts it to 66-62 Iowa. Huskies aren't going away.

  • It's a 2-pointer, 66-57 Iowa. Basically a free timeout for UConn after a bad sequence too.

  • Ice Brady and Nika Muhl have both missed wide-open 3s while Iowa extends the lead to double digits 67-57. Refs are taking a look to see if Gabbie Marshall's was actually a 2, but the Huskies are in a bad place either way

  • And now Clark draws Ice Brady's fourth foul of the game. She's starting to have that look

  • Caitlin Clark drills another three to give Iowa its first two-possession lead of the game.

  • Four players not named Clark or Buckers to watch down the final 10 minutes:

    UConn: Nika Muhl is playing key defense against Clark and stayed out of foul trouble. She also has five assists. KK Arnold is in foul trouble with four. The freshman has played the efficient game for the Huskies and is second on the team with 12 points and four assists.

    Iowa: Hannah Stuelke is the offense right now. Keep feeding her. Sydney Affolter is making big buckets at the right moments.

  • We're all tied 51-51 after three quarters. Caitlin Clark is up to 13 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists, while Hannah Stuelke leads all scorers with 19 points.

  • Muhl is back in the game, while Martin is back on the bench.

  • Now Kate Martin takes a hand to the face and runs to the locker room. Game is tied 47-47 with 2:17 left in the third quarter.

  • Oof, Nika Muhl and Aaliyah Edwards both go down looking for a rebound, then KK Arnold picks up her fourth foul on the other end of the floor. Now Muhl heads to the locker room then goes back after showing a big limp. Stuelke makes both free throws to go up 47-45.

    A disaster sequence for UConn.

  • Iowa ties it 45-45 with a Clark to Stuelke lay-up. There should have been a foul too.

  • Caitlin Clark finds just enough daylight from Nika Muhl to get the ball, make a 3-pointer and draw a foul. She looked in pain on the floor, but is still in and has Iowa only down 44-43.

  • Ice Brady and KK Arnold both have three fouls for UConn. Not insignificant midway through the third quarter.

  • Caitlin Clark's lost two assists on back-to-back missed lay-ups by Iowa. The Hawkeyes are off to a good start, but so is Paige Bueckers, who now leads all scorers with 14 points on 6-of-14 shooting. 41-27 UConn

  • Iowa gives Caitlin Clark a double-screen and she rewards them with her first 3-pointer of the game. Kate Martin ties the game on the next position, but Paige Bueckers responds with her own first 3-pointer. This is starting to look like the game we expected.

  • Iowa opens the half with a steal and a Gabby Marshall 3-pointer to have the Iowa lead, but KK Arnold quickly responds to make it 34-29

  • Iowa was down bad then reeled off a 10-2 run to get back within range before Paige Bueckers closed the half with a lay-up. It's 32-26 UConn at halftime. KK Arnold leads all scorers with 10 points, while Caitlin Clark is 3-of-11 (0-for-6 from deep) for six points. It could be going better for Iowa, but it could also be a lot worse.

  • Iowa is shooting 8-of-23 (2-of-11 from deep) with 11 turnovers (10 of them steals by UConn). Just a nightmare from top to bottom right now.

  • UConn up 28-18, despite Paige Bueckers only having five points on 2-of-6 shooting. This was billed as a battle of stars, but it's the rest of the UConn starters making the difference here (if only someone wrote about that before the game).

  • Iowa has had some really, really bad turnovers. They're now down 25-16 and in the danger zone

  • Nika Muhl will be the key to this game. She's sticking to Clark everywhere, preventing her from bringing the ball up and keeping her to 1-of-5 and scoreless on three 3 attempts. She did draw a foul. And with two 3s herself, Muhl is already past her 6.8 ppg average.

  • It's 19-14 UConn after one quarter. KK Arnold, Nika Muhl and Hannah Stuelke are all tied for the game lead with six points. That's probably the start UConn wanted, though Iowa is probably relieved to only be down five after the start Clark had.

  • Think we can officially call this a rough start for Caitlin Clark, who is 1-of-5 from the field (0-of-3 from deep) and just turned it over. UConn up 16-11.

  • Clark grimaces at committing that foul. She's missed both early 3 attempts and UConn is out to a quick 13-5 lead behind freshman KK Arnold's two baskets. UConn center Aaliyah Edwards already has three assists and Nika Muhl getting on the board early with a 3 is great for the Huskies.

  • UConn's off to a fast start, with KK Arnold notching an and-1 on Caitlin Clark to put them up 13-5. Clark is 1-of-3 for 2 points.

  • And we're off. UConn opens with a turnover, then Caitlin Clark strikes first to put Iowa up 2-0.

  • All-American and former National Player of the Year Paige Bueckers enters Friday averaging 22 points, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals per game.

    All-American and current National Player of the Year Caitlin Clark averages 32 points, nine assists, 7.3 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. Who will reign supreme with a trip to the title game on the line?

  • It's time for UConn-Iowa and there are some stars here courtside. Las Vegas Aces two-time WNBA champions A'ja Wilson, Kelsey Plum and Jackie Young are sitting next to members of the South Carolina staff.

  • We're 15 minutes from tip off of the UConn-Iowa semifinal and Caitlin Clark-Paige Bueckers showdown.

  • UConn great Diana Taurasi doesn't think Caitlin Clark would be shooting logo 3s if she played for Geno Auriemma.

  • NC State could not keep up with South Carolina in any facet of the game.

    • Kamilla Cardoso got the best of them early and then could sit the entire fourth quarter, which could be very beneficial given that potential leg/ankle injury in the first half. She scored 22 points on an efficient 10-12.

    • Ashlyn Watkins nearly out-rebounded the entire NC State herself for much of the game. She finished with 20. The Wolfpack lost the battle, 46-32, and paint points, 44-20.

    • Which would have been OK, except NC State couldn't hit from deep and barely made baskets otherwise. The team shot 32.2% overall, the second-worst performance of the season. And it went 6-of-23 on 3s.

    But a great run by the Wolfpack to make it the Final Four after starting the season off the radar. They weren't a true Cinderella by any means, but it was still fun.

  • What a win by the Gamecocks. South Carolina advances to the national championship game with a 78-59 win over NC State.

    All-America center Kamilla Cardoso fueled a dominant South Carolina effort. She finished the game with 22 points, 11 rebounds and two blocks while sitting the entire fourth quarter of the blowout win. Ashlyn Watkins secured 20 rebounds off the bench as South Carolina controlled the boards with a 46-32 advantage. The Gamecocks shot 8 of 19 (42.1%) from 3 in a balanced inside-out offensive showing.

    The now 37-0 Gamecocks are a win away from a perfect championship season.

    Up next, Iowa and UConn face off for the right to face South Carolina in the title game.

  • Raven Johnson just walked back to the bench from the locker without a limp. Doubtful we see her again with South Carolina leading, 74-54 in the final two minutes. Her status will be a storyline to watch with Sunday's championship game approaching.

  • South Carolina's Raven Johnson just left the court to the locker room. She appears to be walking without issue, but clutched her right thigh as she left the court. The Gamecocks are in complete control midway through the fourth, but a concern with Sunday's championship game on the horizon.

  • Dawn Staley's not resting on the big South Carolina lead. She's visibly displeased with a defensive lapse that allowed a Madison Hayes 3-pointer for NC State and called a timeout. South Carolina leads, 67-45 with 6:52 remaining.

  • Dawn Staley said yesterday every team here in Cleveland can see the finish line now. That third quarter from South Carolina felt like they see it coming closer. The Gamecocks shot 60% (5-9 on 3s) in a well-balanced scoring attack from all eight players who saw minutes. Great defense shutting down NC State. They've let up big leads this postseason, but tonight doesn't feel like it's going to be another.

  • NC State made one field goal on 11 attempts in the third quarter. South Carolina shot 12 of 20.

  • That was a championship-level third quarter from South Carolina. The Gamecocks seized control with a 29-6 run to turn a 32-31 halftime lead into a 61-37 edge after three quarters. Kamilla Cardoso's controlling the post (22 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) while Gamecocks guards are hitting from deep.

    Bree Hall's 3 pointer in the final two seconds capped the dominant stanza for South Carolina.