Indiana faces ninth-seeded Miami as it tries to join fellow No. 1s South Carolina and Virginia Tech in the Sweet 16 and avoid the fate of Stanford, which was sent packing Sunday night. In what seems like it should be a rematch of a title game but is not, second-seeded UConn plays seventh-seeded Baylor.
No. 3-seeded Ohio State kicked off the day’s action with a thrilling 71-69 win over No. 6 North Carolina. Elsewhere, two No. 4 seeds — Tennessee and Villanova — rolled to wins.
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Talk about peaking at the right time.
Hailey Van Lith scored 21 points and the Louisville Cardinals locked down on defense, holding fourth-seeded Texas to just 35% shooting from the field (and a cover-your-eyes 11% from 3) in upsetting the Longhorns, 73-51, on their home floor.
It was a thorough beatdown by Louisville, which has lost 11 games this season, the most since 2010-11 under Jeff Walz. But the Cardinals have put it together in recent weeks, winning four of their last five. The win over Texas advances Louisville to its 7th consecutive Sweet 16. Only South Carolina and UConn have longer streaks. The Cardinals will play Ole Miss, which pulled off the upset of the tournament so far in ousting No. 1 seed Stanford.
All nine Louisville players who got in the game scored, and the Cardinals dominated Texas in the paint, outscoring the Longhorns 38-20. Louisville’s bench also outscored Texas 25-14.
Rory Harmon, who led the Longhorns with 10 points and 9 rebounds, left the game with 2:41 to play with an apparent left leg injury. Texas made just 7-of-22 layups.
Jay Wright saw quite a show.
The two-time national champion coach, now an analyst for CBS Sports, was on hand to see Maddy Siegrist and Villanova rout 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast, 76-57, and advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in 20 years. The two-time Big East player of the year had 31 points, her 16th 30-point game this season, as well as six rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
But the Wildcats aren’t a one-woman show. Lucy Olsen had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Villanova held high-flying Florida Gulf Coast to just seven 3-pointers — almost five below the Eagles’ average, best in the country.
Toledo will always have those first six minutes.
After a layup by Sammi Mikonowicz pulled the Rockets within two points with 5:29 left in the first quarter, fourth-seeded Tennessee outscored Toledo 42-16 the rest of the first half and the Vols rolled to a 94-47 win. Tennessee dominated the 12th-seeded Rockets in every category, including a whopping 58-29 rebounding advantage.
Jillian Hollingshead and Sara Puckett had 13 points each, leading five Vols in double figures. Tennesse got a scare when Jordan Horston, the Vols’ second-leading scorer, twisted her ankle in the third quarter and briefly left the court. She returned soon after and finished with 10 points, eight rebounds and three steals.
Jacy Sheldon drove the lane, split two defenders and hit a crazy pull-up with 1.8 seconds to play to give Ohio State a 71-69 win over North Carolina in the second round Monday, a thrilling finish to a frantic last few minutes in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio State turned the ball over three times in the final 2:22, including throwing it away with 16.3 seconds left and North Carolina trailing 69-67. The Tar Heels responded by tying it up on a pull-up from Deja Kelly, which set up Sheldon’s game-winner.
Sheldon, who missed much of the season with injuries, finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists. Taylor Mikesell led the Buckeyes with 17 points, while Eboni Walker (15 points) and Cotie McMahon (14) also contributed double digits.
North Carolina’s Deja Kelly led all scorers with 22 points. With seven minutes to go in the game, Kelly got leveled by a screen and was visibly shaken up. She had to be carried back to the locker room. Without her, the Tar Heels reeled off a 13-4 run. Shortly after she returned with 2:33 to play, North Carolina took its first lead of the game. But they couldn’t finish the job, as Ohio State advances to the Sweet 16.
Winners: Power forwards
There might as well have been a “This space belongs to” label on the paint for as monstrous as the performances by LSU’s Angel Reese, Utah’s Alissa Pili and Virginia Tech’s Elizabeth Kitley were. Stanford’s loss to Ole Miss would have been far more lopsided if not for Cameron Brink’s spectacular effort.
Brink had 13 rebounds and seven blocks — three on just one play! — and she almost single-handedly got Stanford back into a game it trailed by 13 midway through the third quarter. But Brink didn’t get enough help offensively or, quite frankly, from Stanford’s coaching staff.
LSU had a 32-20 advantage in the paint over Michigan, and it was largely because of Reese. She had a whopping 24 rebounds, 14 of which were on the offensive glass, and six blocked shots. She scored a team-high 25 points, too in the Tigers’ 66-42 romp.
Of Pili’s 10 rebounds, none were bigger than the ones she had on Princeton’s next two possessions after paring what had been a 13-point Utah lead to two. With Pili prowling in the paint, the Tigers couldn’t get good looks to tie or take the lead, allowing the Utes to hold of for a 63-56 win.
Kitley had a double-double – the 55th of her career, matching Virginia Tech’s all-time record. Though South Dakota State had an 8-point advantage in the paint, 38-26, it had only eight second-chance points. Of Kitley’s 14 boards, nine were on the defensive glass, helping the Hokies surge to a 72-60 win.
Despite playing at home for the first two rounds, many thought Notre Dame would be ripe for an upset given the loss of point guard Olivia Miles. Senior center Lauren Ebo had other ideas.
Ebo turned in a spectacular performance in the Irish’s 53-48 win over 11th-seeded Mississippi State, finishing with 10 points, 18 rebounds and five blocks in 31 minutes. Five of her 18 rebounds were offensive, none bigger than her board and putback with 4:38 to go that gave Notre Dame the lead again. And her free throw with 35 seconds to play gave the Irish a 49-45 lead and made it a two possession game.
Welcome back to the Sweet 16, Hokies. It’s been awhile.
Virginia Tech reached the second weekend of the NCAA tournament for just the second time in program history, and first since 1999, with its victory over South Dakota State.
“To be able to get this group, this program to this level is very, very special,” Hokies coach Kenny Brooks said. “It’s very gratifying to be able to get to this point.”
It’s already been a historic season for the Hokies. The win over South Dakota State was Virginia Tech’s 29th this year, most in team history. The Hokies won their first ACC tournament title – in their first appearance in the game, no less – and were rewarded with a No. 1 seed, their best ever in the NCAA tournament.
“It means a lot to be a part of it because Hokie Nation is very special,” Brooks said. “Wonderful people have come through here in all different sports and to be able to contribute to it means a lot.”
Dawn Staley never misses an opportunity to educate.
The South Carolina coach wore a Cheyney State jersey Sunday, a sartorial shoutout to the only HBCU team to make a Division I Final Four. Despite being Division II at the time, Cheyney State played in the inaugural NCAA women’s tournament in 1982 and made it all the way to the championship game before losing to Louisiana Tech.
That team was coached by Hall of Famer C. Vivian Stringer, whom Staley has often praised for both her impact on the game and for opening the door for other Black coaches.
“Cheyney State was the only HBCU to make it to a Final Four and for them to be led by Coach Stringer, who opened doors that now I walk through, it was truly an honor to wear this jersey and to represent them,” Staley said after the game.
Losers: Georgia ball-handling
If you come at the queen, you best not throw away the ball.
Georgia gave Caitlin Clark and Iowa all it could handle on the Hawkeyes’ home floor, and had Iowa teetering on the brink with 2:17 to play after UGA hit a 3 to get within two, 68-66. Iowa missed its next shot and UGA had a chance to tie or take the lead — but then the Bulldogs turned it over on back-to-back-to-back possessions.
Four turnovers in the final 3:38, including those three in a row, directly correlated to UGA’s scoring drought the last 2:17 of the game and ultimately, Iowa’s 74-66 win. The second turnover in that string was the worst, as Clark turned it into two points for the Hawkeyes. Georgia finished with 18 turnovers, which Iowa turned into 17 points.
It’s understandable why the NCAA continues playing the first two rounds at campus sites. The crowd at Cassell Coliseum was so raucous, Virginia Tech players said they could feel the building shake. The decibel level at Carver-Hawkeye Arena had to have registered on a seismograph machine. The arenas at LSU and South Carolina were packed.
But is it fair in the NCAA tournament, when it’s lose and your season is over?
You can make the argument that Georgia would have beat Iowa if that game was played on a neutral court. Princeton might have had a better shot late against Utah if playing anywhere else. And there’s no way Stanford would have been within 10 points of Ole Miss had the game not been on the Cardinal’s home floor.
The women’s game has grown enough that the NCAA needs to consider neutral courts for all three weekends of the tournament.