LOUISVILLE — Maryland coach Brenda Frese wanted her Terrapins to send a reminder that they’re still playing, too. They did just that by sending home an eight-time national champion and putting themselves a win away from a Final Four.
Alyssa Thomas scored a career-high 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as fourth-seeded Maryland upset No. 1 seed Tennessee, 73-62, on Sunday in the Louisville Region semifinal.
Maryland celebrated with a brief message on a board in the locker room: “THEY KNOW OUR NAME NOW!”
“Maybe people will start talking about Maryland and what Maryland’s accomplished,” Frese said. “We have a story, too. We have tradition. I’m so proud of how these kids fought.”
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The Terrapins (27-6) reached their ninth regional final and first since 2012. They did it against a program the Terps had beaten only four times previously and never before in the NCAA tournament. Maryland improved to 5-10 against Tennessee (29-6) with a little revenge for their previous tournament loss in the 1989 Final Four.
Guard Katie Rutan said Frese fired them up before tipoff.
“No one has really been talking about us all year,” Rutan said. “Just to come out and throw that punch, show them that we’re here, we are Maryland and we are going down fighting no matter what. We’re going to come out on top.”
The Lady Vols’ self-titled “GrindFor9,” their chase for a ninth national championship, is over. They will miss the Final Four for a sixth straight season.
This hurts even more with the national championship game being played April 8 in Nashville, just 179 miles from their home in Knoxville.
“We’re Tennessee, and we’re not happy that we’re not playing for a national championship,” Tennessee coach Holly Warlick said. “That’s in our DNA.”
Thomas scored the most points allowed to a single player by Tennessee this season, and she also extended her school record with her 65th career double-double. Lexie Brown added 14 points, Laurin Mincy had 11 and Shatori Walker-Kimbrough 10.
But Warlick said Thomas hurt them the most with Tennessee unable to find a way to stop her.
Louisville 73, LSU 47
Shoni Schimmel scored 19 points, Tia Gibbs added five three-pointers and third-seeded Louisville rolled past seventh-seeded LSU to reach the regional final of the NCAA tournament.
Facing an injury-riddled Tigers squad that dressed just eight players, the Cardinals (33-4) rung up another rout highlighted by a season-best 12 three-pointers with the two seniors leading the way. Schimmel was 3 of 5 from beyond the arc and three other Cardinals contributed.
LSU (21-13) went 31 minutes with just Danielle Ballard (24 points), Jasmine Rhodes (eight) and Theresa Plaisance (seven) scoring before other Tigers chipped in. By then the game was out of hand and the Tigers shot just 24 percent from the field.
Louisville moved on to host Maryland on Tuesday night, matching Cardinals coach Jeff Walz against Terrapins counterpart Brenda Frese, whom he worked under from 2002-07.