All Scores

Stars of the Sweet 16: The difference-makers for each winning team

NC State’s Raina Perez (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Sweet 16 started with a seven-point South Carolina win over North Carolina, and ended with a game-winning layup from a freshman to propel Michigan past South Dakota. As for the action in between, it was just as exciting.

The Elite Eight is set, and it took some serious star power to get there. Here are eight players who stood out in the Sweet 16.

South Carolina 69, North Carolina 61

Aliyah Boston

Aliyah Boston finished with 28 points and 22 rebounds against North Carolina. I really don’t need to say much more. Those stats speak for themselves. She was also 12-for-13 from the free-throw line, and 12 of her rebounds came on the offensive end. The Gamecocks can shoot more freely knowing they have Boston to clean up the boards. It also means extra possessions, and in close games, those are crucial.

Stanford 72, Maryland 66

Haley Jones

I’m hard pressed to choose a player to highlight from Stanford, because everyone on the floor is performing at a high level. But Haley Jones excelled a little more than the rest on Friday, mostly because of the way she read Maryland’s defense and forced the Terrapins to change their game plan.

Texas 66, Ohio State 63

Rori Harmon

This pick might be controversial given that Rori Harmon didn’t perform the way we are used to seeing on offense, but the freshman impressed me with the way she was able to make an impact in other ways. Harmon’s ability to play relentless defense exhausts an opposing offense, and she made Ohio State’s guards work on every possession.

What’s more, despite her struggles, Harmon stepped up in key moments. Her jumper with 1:16 left gave the Longhorns a three-point lead. Then the guard played her patented defense, helping Texas stop Ohio State from getting a solid look. Finally, she sealed the game at the free-throw line, making two with 11 seconds left.

Creighton 76, Iowa State 68

Morgan Maly

I can’t say enough about Morgan Maly. It takes a certain kind of player to consistently deliver off the bench, and Maly is that player. Against Iowa State, she shot 70 percent from the field and poured in 21 points in just 24 minutes. That means she was averaging .88 of a point every minute. The sophomore guard also scored 14 of Creighton’s 17 points in the second quarter, keeping the Bluejays even with Iowa State going into the half. She recorded her seven remaining points in the third as her team began to build a lead.

NC State 66, Notre Dame 63

Raina Perez

It couldn’t be anyone else. The senior guard was vital to the NC State defense, securing four steals. One, of course, sticks out from the rest. With 21 seconds left, trailing Notre Dame by one, Perez was patient with her on-ball defense, waiting until Dara Mabrey made a mistake. When the Notre Dame senior guard left the ball vulnerable at the start of a spin move, Perez tapped the ball away and went to the other end for the go-ahead layup. Perez then secured a defensive rebound and hit two free throws to secure the victory.

Louisville 76, Tennessee 64

Emily Engstler

Emily Engstler has been phenomenal through the first three games of the tournament, but her performance in Louisville’s win over Tennessee on Saturday was her best yet. Engstler’s impact was summed up in a 20-second stretch during the first quarter.

The forward blocked a driving Vols player, grabbed a defensive rebound and then made a heads-up outlet pass to Kiana Smith as she was streaking up the court. It set up Hailey Van Lith for an open 3-point attempt, and when the sophomore was off the mark, Engstler slid into an open space. After Louisville got the offensive rebound, she fired a 3-pointer of her own, which went down for three of her 20 points. The senior also had 10 rebounds and three blocks in the win.

UConn 75, Indiana 58

Olivia Nelson-Ododa

After UConn escaped upset-minded UCF, I wrote that the Huskies needed to get contributions from more than just a few players. In the win over Indiana, they certainly did. And atop the list of impact players is Olivia Nelson-Ododa. The forward was an efficient 5-for-9 from the floor for 10 points, but more importantly, Nelson-Ododa grabbed a team-high 14 rebounds. She helped UConn out-rebound the Hoosiers 39-27 and had five offensive boards, giving the Huskies extra possessions. Defensively, Nelson-Ododa was a wall in the paint, forcing Indiana to take off-balance and contested shots.

Michigan 52, South Dakota 49

Laila Phelia

Against Villanova, Laila Phelia was quiet, but the freshman more than made up for it Saturday against South Dakota. With the game tied at 48 with 23 seconds left in regulation, Phelia used her strength to drive and finish a contested layup. It was the play of the game for the Wolverines, but the guard was solid throughout the contest. She finished with 14 points, going 5-for-7 from the field and 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.

Eden Laase is a contributing writer at Just Women’s Sports. She previously ran her own high school sports website in Michigan after covering college hockey and interning at Sports Illustrated. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

Cameron Brink likes Caitlin Clark for 2024 WNBA Rookie of the Year

Cameron Brink poses with Caitlin Clark at 2024 wnba draft in new york
Cameron Brink poses with fellow draftee — and possible WNBA ROY —Caitlin Clark. (Photo by Emily Johnson/NBAE via Getty Images)

Cameron Brink already has her rookie of the year pick for the upcoming WNBA season, and it’s Indiana-bound star Caitlin Clark

In the latest edition of Kelley on the Street, host Kelley O'Hara caught up with Brink in New York hours before the Stanford phenom went No. 2 overall to the Los Angeles Sparks at the 2024 WNBA Draft. When O’Hara asked who would win the WNBA's rookie of the year, she answered without pause.

"Caitlin Clark," she said, while a fan commented that she thought Brink would take home the award. Brink later added that the extra foul granted to WNBA players will be "good for me."

"I hope it’s me," Charisma Osborne, who was later drafted by the Phoenix Mercury, said when asked her ROY prediction. "But, I don’t know — we’ll see."

Watch more of Kelley on the Street:

Dash winger Maria Sanchez confirms trade request a day shy of NWSL deadline

María Sanchez of Houston Dash during a NWSL game
In December, Sanchez signed a new three-year contract with the club worth $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. (Photo by Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

Maria Sanchez issued a statement on Thursday, confirming recent reports that she has requested a trade from the Houston Dash. 

In it, she revealed that the club has been aware of the request "since late March."

"This has all taken a toll and isn’t an easy thing to talk about, but I want to confirm that I’ve requested an immediate trade," she wrote. "My expectations and reasons have been clear. I trust that my current club’s management will honor my decision in a timely manner and proceed with accepting a trade."

"I’m eager to refocus and dive back into what I love most: playing football," she concluded.

Reports of Sanchez's trade request first surfaced on ESPN last week, and were later confirmed by multiple sources. 

In December of last year, Sanchez signed a three-year contract with the Dash valued at $1.5 million including bonuses and an option year. It was the largest contract in NWSL history at the time — a figure that would be eclipsed by multiple contracts in the following months. 

Sanchez spent the offseason as a restricted free agent, meaning that Houston could match any other team's offer to retain her rights. Should the Dash trade Sanchez, her current contract terms would remain intact, limiting potential buyers to teams able to afford to take on an inking of that size.

The Dash has yet to address the trade, instead reiterating to ESPN that Sanchez is "under contract, a choice she made in free agency at the end of 2023." 

Both the NWSL trade window and transfer window close tonight, April 19th, at 12 a.m. ET. The window will stay closed through the next 11 regular season games, reopening on August 1st, 2024.

Seattle Storm debut state-of-the-art $64 million practice facility

Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm during warms up during practice on July 11, 2020 at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida
Jewell Loyd, seen here practicing at Florida's IMG Academy, and her team are in for a major upgrade this season. (Photo by Ned Dishman/NBAE via Getty Images)

The four-time league champion Seattle Storm unveiled their new practice facility on Thursday, with Storm co-owner Lisa Brummel dubbing Interbay's Seattle Storm Center for Basketball Performance the team’s "new home."

"It's just such a special space," Brummel told Fox 13 Seattle. "I think when the players get here, it's gonna be overwhelming."

The sprawling 50,000-square-foot, $64 million property is just the second designated practice facility to be designed and built expressly for a WNBA team, with the Storm further noting that 85% of all design and engineering team members involved in the project's construction were women and people of color. The finished product holds two professional indoor courts, two 3x3 outdoor courts, a state-of-the-art locker room, and players' lounge, plus designated areas for strength and conditioning, kitchen, dining, and nutrition, and recovery. 

"This facility reflects our commitment to providing our athletes an exceptional environment that supports their growth, health, and performance," said Storm co-owner Ginny Gilder in an official team release. "It’s built for women, by women, embodying our dedication to leading the way in professional women’s sports."

For their part, the team can't wait to make the faciilty their own.

"It's amazing," Storm guard Jewell Loyd told Fox 13. "Not having to drive everywhere around, knowing you have access anytime of the day to get into the gym, to workout." 

Head coach Noelle Quinn said she predicts the team is "never going to leave this building."

"Which is a good thing for me," she continued. "You talk about having an edge in performance. We want our athletes to not only perform on the court, but get whatever they need."

All of the Storm's staff and operations will now live under one roof, and the team also has plans to launch a youth basketball program operating out of the building.

Mystics relocate game to accommodate Caitlin Clark fans

Maya Caldwell, Erica Wheeler, and Lexie Hull of the Indiana Fever celebrate Caitlin Clark
Get ready — Caitlin Clark is coming to town. (Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Caitlin Clark effect is quickly making its mark on the big leagues, as WNBA host teams around the country rush to upgrade their Fever games to larger arenas in order to accommodate surging ticket sales.

With Clark mere weeks away from her Indiana Fever debut, both the Las Vegas Aces and Washington Mystics have officially relocated their scheduled home games with head coach Christie Sides' squad. On Thursday, the Mystics became the latest to adjust their plans, moving their June 7th matchup from Entertainment & Sports Arena in Southwest DC to the more centrally located — and much larger — Capital One Arena "due to unprecedented demand."

The Mystics home court's capacity taps out at 4,200, while Capital One Arena — home to the Wizards, Capitals, and Georgetown Hoya's Men's Basketball — can fit nearly five times that crowd at some 20,000 spectators.

"The move to Capital One Arena will allow for additional fans in the stands as well as premium hospitality options, including Suites and the all-new all-inclusive courtside Hennessy Lofts," the team announced via Thursday's press release.

The Aces were one of the first teams to switch venues, aiming to take on the Indiana Fever in front of as many as 20,000 fans inside T-Mobile Arena on July 2nd. That’s a sizable a boost from their home venue, which holds just 12,000.

For those still planning to face the Fever in their home arenas, ticket prices have skyrocketed. Previously scheduled construction has already forced the LA Sparks to relocate their first five games — including their May 24th clash with the Fever — to Long Beach State's Walter Pyramid. The temporary venue is quite the downsize, holding just 4,000 in comparison to Arena's near-19,000. As of Friday, the get-in price for that game started around $400.

Despite fans launching a petition urging relocation, the Chicago Sky say they're unable to move their June 23rd Fever meeting from Wintrust Arena's 10,000-seat facility to the 23,500-seat United Center due to a concert. Tickets for that game start around $325 as of Friday.

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.