April 5, 2024 

Locked On Women’s Basketball: 2024 Final Four preview — Will South Carolina, Iowa, NC State or UConn take home the trophy?

Keys to the games, predictions, storylines and more!

On today’s episode of Locked On Women’s Basketball, host Natalie Heavren is joined by The Next‘s BIG EAST beat reporter Tee Baker to preview the upcoming Final Four games in Cleveland. First, they discussed the matchup between No. 1 South Carolina (36–0 overall, 16–0 SEC), and No. 3 NC State (31–6, 13–5 ACC) at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday.

Continue reading with a subscription to The Next

Get unlimited access to women’s basketball coverage and help support our hardworking staff of writers, editors, and photographers by subscribing today.

Join today

Baker focused on the Gamecocks’ versatility and deep bench, and how improvements to their perimeter shooting have helped keep them at the top of the NCAA all year long.

“They just have depth that I don’t think another team in this tournament can match,” Baker said. “It was just like a rotating door of post players, Kamilla Cardoso, Ashlyn Watkins, Chloe Kitts. When Cardoso got into some foul trouble, no problem, just sub in some other bigs.”

Get 24/7 soccer coverage with The Equalizer

The Next is partnering with The Equalizer to bring more women’s sports stories to your inbox. Subscribers to The Next receive 50% off their subscription to The Equalizer for 24/7 coverage of women’s soccer.

“I think the difference with South Carolina this year is their perimeter shooting, their guard play. I think that was their weakness last year, everyone kind of saw that on display in their defeat against Iowa in the Final Four but this year, [they brought] Te-Hina Paopao from the transfer portal, Raven Johnson has improved as a shooting guard, Bree Hall is incredibly consistent,” they continued. “And then you have freshmen in MiLaysia Fulwiley and Tessa Johnson who are starters in and of themselves on a lot of other programs. So it’s really just the way that South Carolina can wear you down.”

They also discussed the keys to the game for both teams, the coaching matchup between South Carolina’s Dawn Staley and NC State’s Wes Moore, and the storyline of NC State’s Saniya Rivers facing her former Gamecocks teammates in the Final Four.

Then, the two previewed the second matchup of the evening, No. 1 Iowa (33–4, 15–3 Big Ten) versus No. 3 UConn (33–5, 18–0 BIG EAST). Baker spoke about how for Iowa, Caitlin Clark is an important piece to the puzzle, but the roster around her is what makes the team so formidable.

Add Locked On Women’s Basketball to your daily routine

Here at The Next, in addition to the 24/7/365 written content our staff provides, we also host the daily Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast. Join us Monday through Saturday each week as we discuss all things WNBA, collegiate basketball, basketball history and much more. Listen wherever you find podcasts or watch on YouTube.

“We talked about how [Clark]’s a great shooter, but she’s a great passer. She instills confidence in her teammates. I think that there’s just an elevated level of play when she’s on the court,” Baker said. “Kate Martin is a great shooter, Hannah Stuelke in the post, there’s just other weapons on the team that when everyone’s attention is focused on Caitlin Clark, you can overlook it. But there’s a strong roster here. Gabbie Marshall played a full 40 minutes of defense and you know, doesn’t get that credit at the end because everyone wants to talk to Caitlin. But it’s not just watching Caitlin and the incredible things she can do on the court, it’s the way she elevates her teammates and the way they’re ready to step up when their number is called to contribute.”

Heavren and Baker also talked about UConn and their keys to the game, what it might take to slow down Caitlin Clark, their predictions for both Final Four match ups and more. Subscribe to the Locked On Women’s Basketball podcast to keep learning about the WNBA, women’s college basketball and basketball history!

Written by The Next

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.