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NCAAW top plays: These 4 Sunday games proved more exciting than Super Bowl LV

Cassandra Negley
·7 min read
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The Super Bowl was a little bit of a let-down competition wise. Those who skipped out on Sunday’s pregame shows and tuned in to women’s college basketball saw two top-four teams pull out last-minute victories simultaneously.

That’s in addition to upsets Thursday and Friday night of Week 10 while the Associated Press Top 25 rankings were already put in a tizzy when N.C. State defeated then top-ranked Louisville.

There will be another enticing matchup on Monday night when No. 2 South Carolina and No. 3 UConn clash in Storrs, Connecticut. (They moved into the Nos. 1 and 2 spots, respectively, in the new AP poll out Monday.)

Here’s what you may have missed this week in women’s college hoops:

Dana Evans eyes the basket with ball in hand.
Dana Evans lifted Louisville from the clutches of an upset bid by Notre Dame. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

ACC drama: Louisville survives upset bid, N.C. State suffers one

The week started with N.C. State upending a No. 1 ranked team for the second time this season. It ended with the two foes in separate close contests on Sunday afternoon.

Louisville, which will still lose its No. 1 ranking, survived against Notre Dame, 71-65. Cardinals fans (18-1, 11-1 ACC) can thank senior Dana Evans (as always, right?). She scored five of her 27 total points in the final minute to secure the win and made the shot that lifted the game slightly enough out of reach.

Notre Dame (8-8, 6-6 ACC) had an opportunity to take a late lead after a 3-pointer by Dara Mabrey brought them within one and a steal offered them another offensive opportunity. The jumper didn’t go and Kianna Smith secured the rebound for Louisville.

Evans knocked down a smooth-as-silk 3-pointer to push the margin to four points with 56.5 remaining. It was all over.

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As the final minutes were playing out in Louisville, N.C. State (12-2, 7-2 ACC) was trying to keep hold of its chance at the No. 1 spot in the upcoming poll. It didn’t come to fruition.

North Carolina (9-8, 4-8 ACC) came into the final 10 minutes trailing by three and took down N.C. State, 76-69, with a dominating 27-17 fourth quarter. It’s the third consecutive season the unranked Tar Heels have defeated a top-10 ranked Wolfpack squad.

North Carolina shot 40.6 percent overall and 42.3 percent from the 3-point line. They were 5-for-7 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter (11-for-26 overall) while keeping the Wolfpack to 4-of-19 from the same range.

Alyssa Ustby had career highs in points (20) and rebounds (12) for UNC. She made eight of 10 shots, including all four of her 3-point attempts. National player of the year candidate Elissa Cunane had 14 points and six rebounds for the Wolfpack.

The results give Louisville sole control of the ACC with N.C. State trailing behind at two losses and Georgia Tech (11-4, 9-3) and Syracuse (11-4, 8-4) within striking distance.

Big Ten, SEC bring drama on Super Bowl Sunday

The drama continued in the late afternoon slate on Sunday.

In a moment of déjà vu, Aggies sophomore Jordan Nixon laid in the game-winner against No. 16 Arkansas. Her drive to the basket with less than 10 seconds on the clock — and even less on the shot clock — again sealed the win for No. 7 Texas A&M. In their first meeting on Jan. 10, Nixon scored on a similar drive to give the Aggies a 74-73 win in the final second.

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Arkansas’ Amber Ramirez tied it with a 3-pointer at the 1:20 mark. Both teams missed shots before the Aggies took a timeout with 29 seconds left and Nixon made a play.

Ramirez scored 21 points and extended her streak of games with at least five 3-pointers to four. Chelsea Dungee finished with 12 points, half of her average 22.

It’s a rough loss for Arkansas (14-7, 4-6 SEC), which has toppled some ranked SEC teams above it in the standings but suffered such close losses to others. The win was big for Texas A&M (18-1, 9-1) as the Aggies are hoping for a season finale showdown with South Carolina (15-1, 10-0) that would give them a regular season title. Tennessee (9-2, 6-1) is close behind.

In the Big Ten, No. 22 Northwestern survived an upset bid by Michigan State, 63-60. The Wildcats (11-3, 9-3) took a 37-18 lead into the half before allowing 24 to the Spartans in the third quarter. Michigan State tied it at 56-56 with 4:33 to go and took a lead on a Janai Crooms jumper 30 seconds later. She had 10 points, five steals, four assists and four rebounds.

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They tied it again at 59 when a Veronica Burton free throw and Lindsey Pulliam jumper put it in the Wildcats favor. Burton made a layup to break the tie and hit two free throws to give enough distance with one minute left for the victory.

Burton scored 19 points and was 14 of 17 from the free throw line. Pulliam had 22 with six rebounds.

No. 20 DePaul won by two possessions against Marquette, 87-85, in a close Big East contest.

Ole Miss, Washington State set the upset stage

The excitement wasn’t left for Sunday. No. 15 Kentucky and No. 5 UCLA both suffered upsets earlier in the week.

Ole Miss (8-7, 2-7 SEC) broke out of a six-game losing skid to upend Kentucky, 72-60, despite another valiant effort from the Wildcats guard Rhyne Howard. She poured in 26 points on a rough 7-for-26 shooting day (2-for-10 from range). The junior guard made 10 of 14 free throws and added 10 rebounds, four assists and three steals.

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Shakira Austin had a 21-point, 12-rebound double-double for Ole Miss. The team led in rebounding (49-34) and points in the paint (42-40). It has also suffered close SEC heartbreaks including an overtime loss to LSU, a four-point loss to Mississippi State and a one-point dropped game to Tennessee.

On the west coast, Washington State (9-7, 7-7 Pac-12) was back at it and took down No. 5 UCLA, 67-63, on Friday. It was the first win over a top-5 ranked team in program history, adding to their first week ranked in the poll earlier this season.

Charlisse Leger-Walker scored 13 of the Cougars 15 total points in the fourth quarter — and 28 overall — to pull out their first victory over the Bruins since 2016-17. Her 3-pointer with 42 seconds left was the clincher.

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It’s also the squad’s third win over a ranked opponent this season, and the second over a top-10 ranked squad.

Charisma Osborne led UCLA (10-3, 8-3) with 21 points and Michaela Onyenwere added 16 points and seven rebounds. The team struggled from range and hit five of 20 3-point attempts while shooting 36.2 percent overall and 69.6 percent (16-23) from the free throw line.

Stanford (17-2, 14-2) is still atop the conference (and finally back home in Santa Clara). No. 9 Arizona (11-2, 9-2) and No. 12 Oregon (12-3, 9-3) will face off on Monday night that will have an impact on where UCLA, currently fourth, will end up in the conference standings heading into week 11 of the schedule. Arizona won, 57-41, last month.

Super Bowl LV from Yahoo Sports: