Aziaha James, NC State top Texas to reach Final Four

Mar 31, 2024; Portland, OR, USA; NC State Wolfpack guard Aziaha James (10) grabs a rebound during the first half against Texas Longhorns guard Shay Holle (10) in the finals of the Portland Regional of the NCAA Tournament at the Moda Center center. Mandatory Credit: Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

PORTLAND, Ore. — Aziaha James poured in 27 points and North Carolina State led most of the way in a 76-66 victory over Texas on Sunday in the Portland 4 Region final.

River Baldwin added 16 points as the No. 3 seed Wolfpack (31-6) wrote themselves a ticket to next week’s Final Four in Cleveland. Saniya Rivers tallied 11 points, five rebounds and five assists and Mimi Collins and Zoe Brooks each scored 10.

NC State won the game at the 3-point line, sinking 9 of 18 shots from beyond the arc to the Longhorns’ 1 for 6.

James was honored as the Regional’s Most Valuable Player. In Sunday’s Elite Eight contest, the junior connected on 9 of 17 shots from the field, including 7 of 9 from 3-point range.

Madison Booker’s 17 points led No. 1 seed Texas (33-5). Booker, the Big 12 Conference Player of the Year, struggled with her shot, making 8 of 21 from the field.

Shay Holle scored 12 points, Taylor Jones had 11 and Aaliyah Moore supplied 10 points and nine rebounds.

James went for 21 points and NC State built an 18-point first-half lead before settling for a 43-31 advantage heading into intermission. James shot 5-for-5 from 3-point range and 7-for-10 from the field in the half.

Texas made only 14 of 41 shots in the half (34.1 percent), including 1 of 3 on 3-point attempts. Booker shot 4-for-13.

The Longhorns closed to within 45-35 early in the third quarter. NC State led by 14 when Texas used a 7-0 run to make it 51-44. A trey by James — her first points of the second half — sent the Wolfpack into the final period with a 57-48 edge.

Booker converted a three-point play to draw Texas within 63-55 with 5:50 remaining. Jones got them closer with another three-point play to make it 65-58 with 4:41 to play. James sank a 3 to put NC State back up by double digits, but Jones’ layup cut it to 68-60 with 3:24 to go.

Texas could get no closer than eight points the rest of the way, as Baldwin put up six points down the stretch, four at the foul line.

Texas guard Shaylee Gonzales went scoreless on 0-for-6 shooting before fouling out late in the game.

James buried two 3-pointers around one by Collins to jack NC State’s lead to 34-20 midway through the second quarter. Moments later, James converted again from beyond the arc. Brooks followed with a layup and James a free throw to complete a 17-2 run and make it 40-22 late in the quarter.

–Kerry Eggers, Field Level Media

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