Only one of the five Big 12 men’s teams made it through the first weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament, and four of the women’s teams didn’t even make it out of their first tournament game.
The Big 12’s top three women’s teams – No. 1-seed Baylor (32-2), two-seed Texas A&M (28-5) and fourth-seeded Oklahoma (22-11) – all made it through to the Sweet 16 round. The same cannot be said for the Lady Red Raiders of Texas Tech, Kansas State, Iowa State and Texas.
Baylor’s Brittney Griner, the Big 12 Women’s Player of the Year, sat on the bench for almost half of the first half with two fouls, but still scored a game-high 30 points in the game as the No. 1-seeded Lady Bears (33-2) rolled to an 81-60 victory Monday over West Virginia in the second round of the Dallas Regional.
The Big 12 champions, playing their final game of the year at the Ferrell Center in Waco, now move on to the regional semifinals in Dallas, where they will meet surprising Wisconsin-Green Bay (34-1), the No. 5 seed and winners Monday over Michigan State in Wichita, Kan. It will be Baylor’s sixth trip to the Sweet 16 round in eight years.
No. 2-seeded Texas A&M (29-5), the Big 12 runner-up this season, eliminated Rutgers, the seven seed, 70-48 Monday night in Shreveport, La., to also advance to the regional semifinals in Dallas. Senior Danielle Adams, as she has all season, led the way for the Lady Aggies, finishing with a double-double: 28 points and 11 rebounds. Texas A&M will play the No. 6 seed, Georgia (23-10), who upset three-seeded Florida State to advance to the Sweet 16.
Oklahoma, seeking its third trip to the Women’s Final Four in as many seasons, jumped out early in front of Miami ((28-5), the three seed in the Dayton Regional, and fought off the Hurricanes late for an 88-83 upset win and a trip to the Sweet 16 this weekend. Sophomore Whitney Hand had the hot hand for the Sooners, scoring a career-high 27 points (she had 24 points in the Sooners’ first-round win over James Madison). Senior All-American Danielle Robinson had a career-high 11 assists in the game and scored six of her 18 points in the critical closing minutes.
Senior Carlee Roethlisberger (younger sister of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback, Ben) added 14 points for OU, freshman guard Aaryn Ellenberger hit three three-pointers for 13 points and Joanna McFarland grabbed 15 rebounds to go with 12 points. Sooners’ coach Sherri Cole has been saying all year, “If they all show up at the same time, look out.”
Oklahoma (23-11) will now play No. 2-seeded Notre Dame (28-7) Fighting Irish in the regional semifinals in Dayton on Saturday.
The season ended for Iowa State, Texas Tech, Kansas State and Texas over the weekend. All four teams went down to defeat over the weekend in the first-round of the women’s version of the Big Dance. Marist ran out to a big lead on Iowa State and the Cyclones (22-11) were never able to get any closer than seven points in the second half, losing by 10, 74-64. Kansas State and Purdue battled right down to the end, typical of an 8-9 tournament matchup, before the Boilermakers, a nine seed, pulled away to win 53-45.
In another 8-9 game, one that both coaches described before the game as the best 8-9 pairing in the tournament, St. John’s held Texas Tech (22-11) to only one field goal in over eight minutes of the second half, and that’s all the Red Storm needed to turn away the higher-seeded Lady Red Raiders 55-50.
Texas blew a nine-point lead midway through the second half in yet another 8-9 opening-round game, falling to eighth-seeded Marquette 68-65 on a three-point basket by the Golden Eagles with 10 seconds left. For the Longhorns, it was their third consecutive first-round loss.
In other postseason tournament action, both the Colorado Buffaloes men’s and women’s teams are still alive in the NIT (National Invitation Tournament). The Buffalo men defeated Kent State on Monday to move into the NIT semifinals next week at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Meanwhile, the Lady Buffaloes built up a 27-point first-half lead and cruised to a 81-65 second-round win over California, just ahead of the men’s victory, in a game played at the Coors Center in Boulder. The Colorado men also won big over California on the same floor in their second-round NIT win last Friday.
The Colorado women (17-15) will next play Wyoming (24-8), a 75-71 winner Monday night over Oklahoma State (17-15) in Laramie, Wy.
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