TEMPE, Ariz., March 26 -- Sophia Young's day was special hours before Baylor tipped off against Minnesota in the Tempe Region semifinals.
Young followed an emotional reunion with her mother by almost single-handedly leading the second-seeded Lady Bears to the NCAA tournament's round of eight for the first time, scoring 26 points and grabbing seven rebounds in a 64-57 victory over Minnesota on Saturday night.
With Young's mom, Annie, watching her daughter at the college level for the first time after traveling from St. Vincent, West Indies, Young penetrated with ease and dominated a highly touted matchup with third-seeded Minnesota's bruising front court of Janel McCarville and Jamie Broback as Baylor won its 17th straight game.
Young, Baylor's scoring and rebounding leader, saw her mother earlier in the day for just the second time since leaving home at 15 to be an exchange student in the United States. The junior raised both arms as the final buzzer sounded.
"It was awesome," Annie Christopher said from her front-row seat. "She's good, man. She's good."
Steffanie Blackmon added 10 points and six rebounds, and Baylor withstood a late threat and a testy final minute to keep the Golden Gophers from a return trip to the Final Four.
Baylor (30-3), in the round of 16 for the second straight season, will play the winner of Saturday's late game between top-seeded North Carolina and No. 5 Arizona State on Monday night for a trip to the Final Four in Indianapolis.
McCarville and Baylor's Abiola Wabara were whistled for a double-technical foul with 17 seconds to go after McCarville shoved Wabara following a rebound. There was a heated exchange before referees and teammates separated them.
The 6-foot-4 McCarville finished with 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting, and added 11 rebounds, 4 blocks and 4 assists in the final game of her all-America career, getting booed by Baylor fans when she took a seat following the altercation. Bulling her way to the basket at every opportunity, she also had five turnovers.
The Lady Bears, who won their first Big 12 Conference title and haven't lost since a 69-55 defeat at Texas on Jan. 22, reached their highest win total since posting 33 victories in 1977-'78.
The Gophers (26-8) trailed by as many as eight points in the second half before rallying to pull to 54-50 on Kelly Roysland's basket with just more than six minutes left. But the Gophers committed 16 turnovers and couldn't get enough key stops on defense in the waning moments.
Broback led the Gophers in scoring the past seven games, but was held to four points on 2-of-9 shooting against Baylor's relentless defense. Liz Podominick had 10 points as Minnesota's lone other player in double figures.
Minnesota, which earned its highest tournament seeding in Coach Pam Borton's third season, fell short again after losing to three-time defending NCAA champion Connecticut in the Final Four a year ago.
Baylor Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson complained Friday that the 50-minute practice session allotted by the NCAA wasn't enough, but her team certainly appeared ready.
Broback and McCarville shot a combined 3 for 12 in the first half, but the Gophers shot 5 for 7 from three-point range and trailed 34-31 at halftime.