Arundel’s Sheronne Vails, Louisville one win from Final Four


Louisville center Sheronne Vails (3), an Arundel graduate, and teammates swarm Baylor’s Brittney Griner during an upset win over the top-ranked Bears on Sunday. (Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press)

The Louisville women’s basketball team, including starting junior center Sheronne Vails, a 2010 All-Met from Arundel, will take on Tennessee at 9 tonight in Oklahoma City with a berth in the Final Four on the line.

Fifth-seeded Louisville (27-8) already pulled one of the greatest upsets in tournament history by knocking off top-ranked and defending champion Baylor, 82-81, on Sunday. In that game, Vails hit one of the Cardinals’ 16 three-pointers (in Louisville’s 25 attempts), a team total that tied the tournament record. It was only Vails’s third three-pointer of the season.

The 6-foot-4 Vails also is one of the reasons why 6-8 Baylor center Brittney Griner, the second-leading scorer in NCAA history, went without a field goal in the first half. Louisville employed what Coach Jeff Walz, the former associate head coach at Maryland, called a “claw and one” defense on Griner in limiting her to 14 points, 19 below her average from the Bears’ first two tournament outings.

(Like Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey, Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, who played at Baylor, was not enamored of the officiating in the Louisville game).

In 34 games this season, including 25 starts, Vails is averaging 4.0 points, on 49 percent shooting from the floor, and 2.7 rebounds and leads the team in blocks with 32 despite averaging less than 16 minutes per game.

Vails had a six-block game against Syracuse and a five-block game against Seton Hall and ranks seventh on the school’s all-time blocks list with 111. Vails set the school record for blocks in a game with seven.

Second-seeded Tennessee (27-7) has won eight national titles, but Louisville has been to the Final Four (in 2009, losing to Connecticut in the final) since the Volunteers last advanced that far (in 2008, beating Stanford in the final).

Related: NCAA women’s tournament schedule

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Matt Brooks · April 2, 2013