Double-digit seeds leave their mark on the first weekend of the NCAA Women’s Tournament and bounce back some of the best players and teams in the country, including Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Baylor’s NaLyssa Smith.
Creighton and South Dakota continued the streak of upsets as the two No. 10 seeds qualified for the Sweet 16 for the first time ever.
The Bluejays started the second round, shocking Clark and Iowa with a two-run victory that silenced the sold-out crowd in Iowa City. Hours later, South Dakota knocked out No. 2 Baylor, ending Smith’s college career on home turf.
If you count, that’s eight wins by double-digit seeds in this tournament — tying the most in NCAA women’s basketball history in two rounds, a mark set in 2018.
Two double-digit seeds in the Sweet 16 already match the record which has been achieved a few times. And there’s a chance for a few more to win on Monday to break the mark when the regional semi-final field is over.
Creighton was able to earn her win thanks in part to sophomore Lauren Jensen, who transferred from Iowa after her freshman year. She scored 19 points, including a 3-pointer with 12 seconds left that gave the Bluejays the lead for good.
“I’ve been asked the question many times,” Creighton coach Jim Flanery said. “How will Lauren feel today, how will Lauren play, dad dad dad?” Those last few minutes were supposed to be magical and special, and we’re super proud of her and we’re super proud that she’s part of our program.
When Creighton needed Jensen’s last-minute heroics, South Dakota took him straight to Baylor and never let go. The Coyotes’ 14-point road win was the biggest by a 10-seeded No. 2 finisher according to STATS.
Here’s some more information on Sunday’s matches:
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An average of 6,449 fans came to first-round games this year, including a sold-out crowd of 14,382 at Carver Arena in Iowa. The Hawkeyes also sold their second-round game against Creighton.
“To bring so many people into a gym to watch women’s sports, I think that’s huge,” Iowa center Monika Czinano said.
With crowds expected to be high in the remaining second-round games, attendance is the fastest in the first two rounds since the 2004 season, when the average was nearly 6,700 per game.
It wasn’t all about the upsets on Sunday, with No. 1 seeds South Carolina and Louisville advancing to the Sweet 16. The Gamecocks continued to play stellar defense, limiting Miami to just 33 points in a 16-point win. The 54 points allowed by South Carolina in the first two rounds of the Women’s NCAA is 17 fewer than any other team has allowed in its first two games.
“There’s a badness for us on this side of basketball,” Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said. “It wins us basketball games,”
Texas and the NCAA Tournament bid farewell to the Longhorns home field at Frank Erwin Center, also known as “The Drum.”
Sunday’s game was the last in the 45-year-old building, which is closed as Texas moves to a new arena a few blocks away. Texas has won eight straight tournament games at Erwin Center and is 27-9 overall. The Longhorns hadn’t lost an NCAA Tournament game at home since the first round in 2009.
“It was an honor for me to perform there,” said Texas freshman Rori Harmon.
A total of 72 games had been played at that venue — tied for third most of any arena in NCAA women’s basketball history.
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