Meighan Simmons on the Lady Vols' win
OKLAHOMA CITY — Dean Lockwood could have been speaking for the entire Baylor team Sunday evening.
“I’m stunned,” the Tennessee assistant coach said seconds after Louisville defeated No. 1 Baylor in the Sweet 16 round of the Oklahoma City regional at Chesapeake Energy Arena.”
“I’m just trying to process what I’ve just seen,” he added.
So was everybody else who had witnessed one of the greatest upsets in the history of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament.
No. 5 seed Louisville (27-8) made 16 of 25 3-pointers and led by 19 points with 12:14 to play, but still needed two last-second free throws by senior Monique Reid to edge the defending national champion Lady Bears, 82-81.
The Cardinals will play Tennessee on Tuesday night in the Elite Eight. The Lady Vols defeated Oklahoma 74-59 in the first half of the doubleheader.
Now, the Lady Vols are one victory away from the Final Four. And Baylor isn’t in their way.
“That’s a great illustration of why you play the game,” Lockwood said. “Everybody thought we would be playing Baylor.”
They almost were.
The Lady Bears (34-2) overcame the 19-point deficit with a furious rally, capped by a pair of free throws from All-American point guard Odyssey Sims. That gave Baylor a one-point lead with nine seconds left.
Baylor’s other All-American didn’t close out as well.
Center Brittney Griner was called for a foul as Reid drove to the basket with 2 seconds to play.
“I mean I feel like I got all ball,” a dejected Griner said when asked about the play. “But you know, it wasn’t my call.”
Louisville coach Jeff Walz saw the play differently.
“I was just thankful,” he said. “It was a late whistle.
“She got clobbered.”
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey thought Louisville was doing most of the clobbering. In fact, she challenged the media afterwards to ask her about the officiating.
“I thought the game started out way too physical,” Mulkey said. “I thought that all three of (the officials) if they go past this round, it will be sad for the game.”
The fouls actually favored Baylor. It was called for only 14 fouls, compared to 24 whistled on Louisville.
Two of the Cardinals’ best players — Shoni Schimmel (22 points) and Bria Smith (13 points and seven rebounds) — both fouled out late in the game.
Schimmel and Antonita Slaughter devastated Baylor with 3-point shooting.
Schimmel hit 5 of 8 3-point tries, and Slaughter, who scored 21 points, was 7-for-9.
Slaughter also played a prominent role in defending Griner, who was limited to 10 shots. She finished with 14 points.
Sims led the Lady Bears with 29 points.