Virginia won its first women’s NCAA tournament game in nine years. The Cavaliers’ reward is a matchup with the most famous player in program history in South Carolina coach Dawn Staley.
Staley, a Hall of Famer, led Virginia to three Final Fours and an appearance in the title game, her grit and toughness powering Virginia from 1989-92. These Cavaliers showed some Staley-like determination in holding off No. 7 seed California 68-62 to start the Albany Regional on Friday.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Virginia center Felicia Aiyeotan, who led the team with 16 points.
Sophomore guard Jocelyn Willoughby said Virginia players love the legacy Staley left them. But they’re here to advance, no matter who’s on the other side during Sunday’s second round.
“It’s not about her, it’s about the basketball game,” Willoughby said. “That’s what’s important.”
California played without leading scorer and rebounder Kristine Anigwe, who was medically ruled out. The team would not detail what was wrong with the junior.
South Carolina 63, North Carolina A&T 52: A’ja Wilson had 19 points and 16 rebounds for the second-seeded Gamecocks, who got a scare from the No. 15 seed. The defending champions led 39-21 at halftime but struggled offensively in the second half and saw their lead shrink to seven with 3:22 remaining.
Oregon 88, Seattle 45: Sabrina Ionescu had 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for her 10th career triple-double, and the second-seeded Ducks cruised past the 15th-seeded Redhawks. The Ducks, who have won 10 straight, will face Minnesota in the Spokane Regional.
Minnesota 89, Green Bay 77: Kenisha Bell scored 24 of her 26 points in the second half to help the 10th-seeded Golden Gophers advance. Minnesota outscored seventh-seeded Green Bay 30-13 in the fourth quarter.
Tennessee 100, Liberty 60: Freshman Rennia Davis had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the third-seeded Lady Vols, who finished the game shooting an NCAA program-best 61.7% (37 of 60) from the field. The Lady Vols will face Oregon State in the Lexington Regional.
Oregon State 82, Western Kentucky 58: Marie Gulich scored 21 of her 29 points in the second half and grabbed 15 rebounds for the sixth-seeded Beavers, who outrebounded the 11th-seeded Lady Toppers 48-27.
Michigan 75, Northern Colorado 61: Hallie Thome scored 24 points and Katelynn Flaherty added 20 for the seventh-seeded Wolverines, who shot 57% from the field. The 10th-seeded Bears had won 13 straight to earn their first-ever tournament berth. Michigan will face Baylor in the Lexington Regional.
Baylor 96, Grambling 46: Lauren Cox had a career-high 30 points and 17 rebounds for the second-seeded Lady Bears, who scored 17 of the game’s first 18 points and were never challenged. Jazmin Boyd scored 20 points for the 15th-seeded Lady Tigers.
Louisville 74, Boise State 42: Kylee Shook had 14 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the Cardinals, who held 10th-seeded Boise State to a season-low 24% from the field. Louisville will face Marquette in the Lexington Regional.
Marquette 84, Dayton 65: Natisha Hiedeman scored a career-high 32 points as the eighth-seeded Golden Eagles rallied past the No. 9 seed.
Texas A&M 89, Drake 76: Freshman Chennedy Carter had 26 points as the fourth-seeded Aggies beat the No. 13 seed. Texas A&M will face DePaul in the Spokane Regional.
DePaul 90, Oklahoma 79: Amarah Coleman and Kelly Campbell each scored 17 points for the fifth-seeded Blue Demons, who held off a second-half comeback by the No. 12 seed.
North Carolina State 62, Elon 35: Kiara Leslie scored 13 points and Aislinn Konig added 12 for the fourth-seeded Wolfpack, who held No. 13 seed Elon to a season-worst 24% from the field. North Carolina State will face Maryland in the Kansas City Regional.
Maryland 77, Princeton 57: The fifth-seeded Terrapins dominated the paint, the glass — and their matchup with the No. 12 seed. Kaila Charles led Maryland with 20 points.