Aziaha James makes 7 3s with mismatched 3-point lines, leads NC State past Texas into Final Four

North Carolina State guard Madison Hayes, left, and forward Mimi Collins celebrate after the Elite Eight college basketball game in the women's NCAA Tournament Sunday in Portland, Ore. (AP Photo/Howard Lao)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Playing on a court with mismatched 3-point lines, Aziaha James was on target from everywhere.

James made a career-high seven 3-pointers and scored 27 points, and third-seeded North Carolina State earned its first trip to the Final Four of the women’s NCAA Tournament since 1998, beating top-seeded Texas 76-66 on Sunday in a game played with 3-point lines at different distances on opposite ends of the court.


River Baldwin added 16 points for N.C. State (31-6), which will face unbeaten South Carolina in the national semifinals in Cleveland on Friday. The Gamecocks beat Oregon State in Albany, New York, earlier Sunday.

James laughed when asked if the different perimeter markings mattered to her.

“Not at all,” she said. “Not at all.”

Madison Booker, the Big 12 Player of the Year and one of the top freshmen in the country along with Southern California’s JuJu Watkins, finished with 17 points to lead the Longhorns (33-5), who were vying for their first Final Four since 2003.

Before the Portland 4 Region final, Texas coach Vic Schaefer and N.C. State’s Wes Moore conferred with officials about a visible difference between the 3-point lines. One appeared to be too close to the basket at the top of the key.

The NCAA acknowledged a discrepancy but said both coaches agreed to play on. Four previous games in Portland were played without anyone saying anything publicly about the issue. The court will be corrected before Monday’s Elite Eight game between USC and UConn, the NCAA said.

Afterward, Schaefer said the difference was “about a foot.”

“You want to know how if I think it had anything to do with the game? Probably not,” he said.

James finished 7 of 9 on 3s. She said the players were not told about the discrepancy before the game.

South Carolina women advance to Final Four with win over Oregon State

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Dawn Staley has South Carolina back in a familiar place — the Final Four — and she got there this time with an entirely new starting lineup.

Tessa Johnson scored 15 points and Kamilla Cardoso added 12 to help the undefeated Gamecocks to a 70-58 win over Oregon State on Sunday in the Albany 1 Regional Final of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

“Proud because we beat the odds,” Staley said. “Odds said we shouldn’t make it back to the Final Four. Proud of our team for them believing in themselves. We created a certain level of chemistry and culture and they stuck with it.”

It’s the second consecutive year the Gamecocks have made it to the national semifinals undefeated. South Carolina hopes for a different conclusion this time. The Gamecocks lost to Caitlin Clark and Iowa in the Final Four last year.

“We’re different this year. I think we can do a lot of things. We can shoot from outside, drive,” Raven Johnson said. “We can play from the inside out. This team is just a young, feisty, fierce team that’s hungry. We’ve got a chip on our shoulder.”

The Gamecocks, who have made the Final Four in four straight years, will play N.C. State on Friday night in Cleveland. The Wolfpack beat Texas later Sunday in Portland, Oregon.

“Each time we get an opportunity to cut down nets is kind of special,” Staley said.

Two more wins by South Carolina would make the Gamecocks the 10th school to finish a season undefeated and the first since UConn did it in 2016.

Top-seeded South Carolina (36-0) led by four at the half and built a 14-point lead before No. 3 seed Oregon State (27-8) got within 62-58 with 3:55 left in the game.

Tessa Johnson answered after a timeout with a three-point play, scoring on a drive to restore a seven-point cushion. The Beavers then went cold from the field, missing their final seven shots.

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