Women’s First Round Wrap-Up
by Tracy Granzyk
Playground dreams are built upon endings like UC-Santa Barbara’s 57-56 victory over Louisiana Tech. You know the scenario – down by two, a little over one second left in the game. In this case it was the Gauchos’ Jess Hansen who tossed in the last second three ball, sending the thirteen-time Final Four Lady Techsters into the locker room shaking their heads. The Gauchos face Big 12 toughness in Texas in order to move on to the Sweet Sixteen.
Things went just about as expected for the remaining fourteen teams in the East. Texas, who got off to slow start versus Wisconsin-Green Bay, managed to pull out the 60-55 win. The Longhorns will have to step it up a bit if they want to continue playing some basketball yet this year.
The remaining top seeds performed up to their potential. Duke rolled over Norfolk State, 95-48, Baylor sent Bucknell to the spectator seats, 80-56 and South Carolina held off Liberty, 69-61. Duke will face TCU, who ended Indiana’s season with a 55-45 victory. Baylor will face Drake after they sent Syracuse home with a 87-69 thrashing and South Carolina will face Cincinnati, who comes off a 76-63 overtime scare versus St. Peter’s.
The Wildcat kids romped in their first round game Friday night, as Kansas State beat Kent State, 93-65. Underclassmen, Laurie Koehn and Kendra Wecker, who scored 27 and 22 points respectively, combined for more than half of all Wildcat points. With a roster that includes only three upperclassmen, K-State will be a force for at least three more years. Coach Deb Patterson, who is in her sixth year with the Wildcats and is accumulating coaching accolades left and right, leads her team into the second round versus Arkansas. The Lady Razorbacks advanced after their first round win against Clemson, 78-68.
No. 5 seed Florida International is quietly going about the business of winning, this time rolling over Creighton 73-58. Cheryl Moody, had her third double-double in as many games, scoring 14 and snagging 12 rebounds. While the Sun Belt Conference may not be packed with powerhouse teams, the Golden Panthers did gain some invaluable experience against Top 25 teams earlier in the year. They’ll need to call upon this experience if they plan to get past Penn State in round two.
Both UConn and Purdue handled their first round games with ease. The Huskies welcomed St. Francis to the NCAA Tournament with a 86-37 lesson on how to lose gracefully. Purdue, who needed to regain some momentum, sent Austin Peay packing, 80-49. Old Dominion and Iowa will also play second round games.
No. 12 seed Mississippi State surprised Boston College, 65-59. Both teams have played inconsistently during the last half of the season, but the Lady Bulldogs pulled it together Friday night. Their next dance partner will be Texas Tech, who defeated Stephen Austin, 84-63.
In another West Regional upset, Tulane put Colorado State back on their bus with a 73-69 victory in Palo Alto. The Rams, who aren’t accustomed to losing first round games, were never able to gain momentum against the Green Wave. Tulane will have to boogie pretty hard against their second round opponent, Stanford, who easily handled Weber State, 76-51.
First-timer Hartford proved to be no match for No. 1 seed Oklahoma, falling to the Sooners, 84-52. Sharp passing, 50 percent field goal shooting and a quick tempo showcased why the Sooners have been ranked in the top five all season. Repeat All-American, Stacey Dales scored 13, with Caton Hill adding 14. Oklahoma continues their trek to the Final Four against first round winner Villanova. Villanova moves on after defeating Pepperdine, 67-46.
Colorado came to play against the Southern Jaguars, showing their fans basketball isn’t over in Boulder just yet. In a shooting exhibition, the Buffs shot 72.7% from behind the arc and 59 percent from the floor. Britt Hartshorn led the way, draining fifteen points of her own. The Buffs face Louisiana State, who outlasted Santa Clara, 84-78.
Whoever decided to give the Lady Vols a No. 2 seed AND put them in the same regional as conference rival Vanderbilt never heard the warning about waking a sleeping giant. The Lady Vols are now awake and fighting mad. Tennessee stomped on their first victim Georgia State, 98-68. Vanderbilt held Oakland to only 38 points in a 63-38 win, as the Commodores dance into Sunday’s games without breaking a sweat.
Notre Dame, the 2001 defending champs, outdistanced New Mexico in their first round contest, 58-44. The Irish, who got off to a slow start this season, have taken their game up a few notches in the latter half of the season. The Fighting Irish will need more than just the Luck of the Irish when they take on Tennessee in round two on St. Patrick’s Day.
In what was one of the best first round match-ups, Arizona State edged out Wisconsin, 73-70. The Sun Devils, down by as much as 14 points in the first half pulled out yet another come from behind victory. They’ll have to set their upset goals higher for round two, as they face No. 1 seed, Vanderbilt.
No. 6 seed Florida was upset by No. 11 seed BYU in a convincing 90-52 trouncing. BYU advances and will take on Iowa State who sent Temple home with a 72-57 lesson in shooting. The Cyclones’ Mary Cofield, fired up the hometown crowd with three balls galore, shooting 6-6 from three-point-ville.
Minnesota and North Carolina also move into round two where they will square off against each other. The Gophers toppled UNLV, 71-54 while North Carolina schooled Harvard, 85-58.