There were many potential upsets, but few actually materialized. Here’s your TL;dr roundup of Friday’s games all in one place.
Day 1 of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament is now in the books. If you planned on riding the favorites in your bracket pools, you’re in luck. However, that doesn’t mean that it was a smooth ride, because many higher ranked teams are quite rattled.
Let’s take a look at each of Friday’s games by region.
#4 Duke 54, #13 Albany 52
Rebecca Greenwell made a three point shot with 14.9 seconds left to give the Blue Devils a lead which they ultimately didn’t relinquish. However, they also gave up 27 turnovers in this game to a Great Danes team that had enough speed and athleticism to make things interesting. Many upset-loving basketball fans are pleased to see the type of performance Albany gave. However, that’s little consolation for them, because the Great Danes were also leading by 4 with just 90 seconds left.
#5 Mississippi State 57, #12 Tulane 47
Breanna Richardson scored 15 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help lead the Lady Bulldogs to a hard-fought win over the Green Wave in order to continue a banner year for the Mississippi State program. The game itself was not particularly pleasing to watch either, given that neither team shot particularly well, and both teams committed a combined 36 turnovers.
#3 Oregon State 74, #14 South Dakota State 62
The Beavers were in legitimate danger of losing this game after being behind the Jackrabbits for much of the first half, but a key 12-0 run in the second half changed the momentum. If Oregon State lost, they would have also had the dubious distinction of being the first #3 seed to lose to a #14 seed in the first round of the Big Dance.
#11 Gonzaga 82, #6 GW 69
Even though GW out-rebounded Gonzaga 53-39, a poor shooting night (GW shot under 30%) and a dominant scoring run in the first half by the Zags were key to the outcome of this match. In 2011, the Zags made the Elite Eight as a #11 seed, so could they make a run like that once again this season? Hmmmm…
Oklahoma City Region
#10 Arkansas, 57, #7 Northwestern 55
Okay, this game is a legit upset, but not of the variety where some small program in a small conference shocks a major conference team. The Razorbacks were behind 48-35 with 11:34 left in the game, but were able to get a 56-55 lead with 30 seconds left after Jessica Jackson made what ended up being the game winning free throw. Another key stat that ultimately hurt Northwestern was turnovers, where they committed 19 compared with Arkansas’ 10.
#11 Miami 86, #6 Washington 80
Adrienne Motley scored 30 points, Jessica Thomas scored 19, and Michelle Woods scored 17 more to lead the Hurricanes to an upset over the Huskies, who are in their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2007. If there is a key stat from this game which helped give the U the victory, it was the free throw line, where the Hurricanes made 25 of 40 shots, while the Huskies made 14 out of 19 shots.
#2 Baylor 77, #15 Northwestern State 36
The Lady Bears had their first round game at home against the Lady Demons. In the game, Baylor doubled up Northwestern State in field goal percentage (49.2% to 23.7%), rebounds (53-26), and the final score. They almost doubled up Northwestern State with assists (23 to 12) as well. On top of that, the Lady Demos could only attempt two free throws for the game. The end result is an ugly blowout.
#3 Iowa 75, #14 American 67
Like Duke was against Albany, Iowa was hosting the American Eagles on their home court and came close to losing Eagles guard Jen Dumiak scored 23 points and dished 9 assists in the contest. But all five Hawkeyes starters scored in double figures and they also won the free throw attempt battle (16 vs. American’s 8) which was the difference.
Another cool thing about American and their tournament appearance. This was their first ever appearance in the Big Dance — where many similar teams could be awestruck — yet they managed to make this a 69-64 game with under three minutes left in the game.
#9 DePaul 79, #8 Minnesota 72
The Blue Demons were behind the Gophers 41-30 in this game. But Megan Podkowa scored two consecutive three pointers in the second half, as well as pressure defense sparked a dominant run to lead DePaul to victory. For the Gophers, Amanda Zahui B. scored 21 points and grabbed 22 rebounds in the losing effort.
#1 Notre Dame 77, #16 Montana 43
The Irish shot 62.3% from the field against the Grizzlies, who have one of the top field goal percentage defenses in Division I, at least statistically. Jewell Loyd scored 18 points in 26 minutes of game action, while no Montana player was able to score in double figures for this first round game.
#7 Dayton 78, #10 Iowa State 66
The Flyers took advantage of winning the field goal percentage (48.3% vs. the Cyclones’ 38.3%) and turnover (7 vs. the Cyclones’ 12) battles to get a complete win. Dayton was up by as many as 17 points, but Iowa State was able to get it down by seven with 2:32 left. Still, it wasn’t enough as the Flyers went on another late run.
#2 Kentucky 97, #15 Tennessee State 52
The Wildcats played at home in their first round match against the Lady Tigers. The game was effectively over after UK Hoops went on an early 16-0 run in the first half to turn a 3-3 game to a 19-3 rout. During the game, we also got to see Kentucky’s pressure defense at its best, as they forced Tennessee State to commit 26 turnovers, and they only shot 26.1% (18 of 69) from the field.
#5 Texas 66, #12 Western Kentucky 64
Though the Longhorns were dominating the field goal percentage (47.5% to WKU’s 32.8%) and rebounding battles (49 to 28), turnovers kept them in it where Texas committed 19 vs. 9 for Western Kentucky. Some late free throws was ultimately the difference. It would be interesting to see if this game somehow made overtime, or if Lady Toppers forward Alexis Govan made a potential game winning three.
#4 California 78, #13 Wichita State 66
All five of Cal’s starters scored in double figures to lead the Bears to comfortable win over the Shockers. Reshanda Gray — who could be a top pick in this year’s WNBA Draft — had a very strong performance in particular, where she scored 22 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.
#1 South Carolina 81, #16 Savannah State 48
Yes, the Gamecocks won this game by over 30 points. But Savannah State actually was only losing by 10 points well into the second half, so the game was actually a bit more interesting than most #1 vs #16 seed games are. With the win, South Carolina now has won a program-best 31 in a season.
#8 Syracuse 72, #9 Nebraska 69
Syracuse’s Brianna Butler scored the game-winning shot with just under a minute left against Nebraska during an even game from start to finish. On Sunday, the Orange will play South Carolina and attempt to get to their first-ever Sweet 16. It will be a very tough road to do so against one of the top teams in the nation, but you never know.