Half of the Sweet 16 bracket is now finalized.
The weekend has come to a close, and we now know who will be dancing this weekend in the Regional Rounds — a/k/a the Sweet 16. Let’s take a look at the scores!
#7 Dayton 99, #2 Kentucky 94
The Flyers have made the NCAA Tournament for six straight years, but after five straight one-and-done appearances, they have finally broken through with a major win over the Wildcats. Ally Malott and Amber Deane scored a combined 51 points to get the win, and Kelley Austria made a three pointer with 1:09 left when the score was tied 87 all.
As for the Wildcats, Makalya Epps scored 29 points to keep UK Hoops in it. They were also shorthanded because senior Azia Bishop was suspended due to a “failure to uphold team standards.” I wouldn’t peg the loss on Bishop’s absence, but it does make a point that head coach Matthew Mitchell won’t hesitate to enforce sanctions, even with potential season-ending games on the line.
Now if only some men’s basketball team can pull off an upset vs. Kentucky….
#11 Gonzaga 76, #3 Oregon State 64
The Zags have earned a trip to play at home in the regional rounds after defeating the Beavers on their court. In the game all Gonzaga players who saw game action scored, and four players scored in double figures. The game was tied at 64 as late as 3:29 left in the game, but Gonzaga went on a 12-0 run the rest of the way — albeit mostly from free throws — to win the game.
The Business as Usual Games (by region)
#4 Duke 64, #5 Mississippi State 56
Duke once again was plagued by turnovers (17 overall compared with Miss. St’s 11), and were down 28-24 at the half. However, a late 26-5 run in the second half helped them get to their fifth Sweet 16 in the last six years.
#3 Iowa 88, #11 Miami (FL) 70
The Hawkeyes made the Sweet 16 with a complete win over the Hurricanes as all five starters scored in double figures, and center Bethany Doolittle had a dominant game with 22 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. For the Hurricanes, Adrienne Motley and Jessica Thomas both scored a combined 38 points, but ultimately, the U’s field goal percentage (39.7%) was well under the Hawkeyes (52.6%) which was the key factor in this game.
#2 Baylor 73, #10 Arkansas 44
The Lady Bears nearly doubled up the Razorbacks in field goal percentage (49% vs. 24.6%) but their 16 turnovers vs. the Razorbacks’ 9 is what kept the scoring margin closer than it was — and I get that this game was a blowout. Nina Davis led Baylor with 21 points and 8 rebounds, while Jessica Jackson led Arkansas with 15 points.
#1 Notre Dame 79, #9 DePaul 67
The Blue Demons actually made this game interesting by leading 24-17 midway through the first half, but Notre Dame came back to lead 37-31 at halftime. In the second half, Notre Dame broke the game open and was leading 75-55 with just under four minutes left. From then on, DePaul ultimately made the deficit respectable, but this game wasn’t as close as the score indicated.
One notable thing stat-wise about this game was that all five Irish starters scored in double digits, as well as four of the Blue Demons’ starters.
#1 South Carolina 97, #8 Syracuse 68
The Gamecocks went on a big early run to make this game a snoozer by halftime. Six SC players scored in double digits, with none scoring more than 14 in the winning effort. For the Orange, Alexis Peterson scored 23 points, but she did soon 8 of 23 shooting — and she also committed six turnovers.
#5 Texas 73, #4 California 70
Imani McGee-Stanford scored 20 points on 7 of 10 shooting while Kelsey Lang added 14 more points off the bench to lead the Longhorns to their first Sweet 16 since 2004. Neither of Cal’s starting frontcourt players: Reshanda Gray and Mikayla Cowling were able to do much. In fact Gray fouled out. The Golden Bears’ backcourt of Brittany Boyd (17 points and 10 assists) and Mercedes Jefflo (22 points including six three pointers) fortunately filled the slack and kept things interesting until the end, but it ultimately wasn’t enough.