NEW ORLEANS — Make that three consecutive upsets for Louisville, which used the latest thriller to head back to the women’s national championship game for the first time since 2009.
Antonita Slaughter scored 18 points on six 3-pointers and Louisville clawed back from a 10-point halftime deficit to defeat California 64-57 in the national semifinals Sunday.
Bria Smith scored 17 on 6 of 7 shooting for the Cardinals (29-8), who were a No. 5 seed and became the first team seeded worse than fourth to win a Final Four game.
The result ensures an all-Big East Conference final in the league’s last season in its current form, with Louisville meeting Connecticut, which defeated Notre Dame, on Tuesday night – one night after the Louisville men’s team plays Michigan for the championship.
“Right now anything can happen,” Louisville coach Jeff Walz said. “Why not us?”
Layshia Clarendon scored 17 for Cal (32-4), which had won the Spokane Region as a second seed. Gennifer Brandon added 12 for the Golden Bears and Brittany Boyd added 10 points.
Louisville had to beat defending national champion Baylor and Southeastern Conference power Tennessee just to get to New Orleans.
Louisville fell to Connecticut in the 2009 national title game.
NOTRE DAME 65
Breanna Stewart scored 29 points to help Connecticut beat Notre Dame to advance to the championship game.
UConn will be going for its eighth national championship to match Tennessee for the most in women’s basketball history.
The Huskies (34-4) and Irish had played three thrilling games this season, with Notre Dame (35-2) coming out on top by margins of one point, two points and in triple overtime. This one wasn’t as close, ending the brilliant career of Notre Dame guard Skylar Diggins.
UConn built a 10-point halftime lead and Notre Dame could only get within six in the second half, ending the Irish’s school record 30-game winning streak.