Top seeds Notre Dame, Tennessee advance in women’s NCAA Tournament
Throughout the 2013-14 season two teams separated themselves from the competition in women’s college basketball: UConn and Notre Dame. Both teams entered the 2014 NCAA tournament undefeated, with the defending national champion Huskies boasting a 34-0 mark and Muffet McGraw’s Fighting Irish winning all 32 of their games.
In seasons past there would be at least two meetings between the programs (they met four times last season), as both were members of the Big East. But thanks to conference realignment there wasn’t a regular season meeting this year, with Notre Dame asserting its dominance in the ACC and UConn doing so in the American Athletic Conference.
With the teams on opposite sides of the NCAA tournament bracket the hope is that they’ll meet in the national title game, and Notre Dame took its first step towards the game by beating No. 16 Robert Morris 93-42 in Toledo. Freshman guard Michaela Mabrey led five Fighting Irish in double figures with 16 points off the bench, and as a team Notre Dame shot 59.4% from the field and 10-for-18 from beyond the arc.
Next up for Notre Dame, top seed in the Notre Dame Region, is No. 9 Arizona State, which beat No. 8 Vanderbilt 69-61. The Sun Devils were one of three lower-seeded teams to win on Saturday, with No. 12 BYU beating No. 5 NC State 72-57 in the Lincoln regional and No. 10 Florida State beating No. 7 Iowa State 55-44 in the Stanford regional.
Tennessee, the top seed in the Louisville regional, was also in action Saturday and the Lady Vols eliminated No. 16 Northwestern State by the final score of 70-46. After leading 22-20 at the half Holly Warlick’s team scored 48 points in the second half to remove any doubt.
All three two-seeds in action Saturday advanced, with Lincoln Region No. 2 Duke (87-45 over Winthrop), Notre Dame Region No. 2 Baylor (87-74 over Western Kentucky) and Stanford Region No. 2 Stanford (81-62 over South Dakota) moving on to the second round.
And in the wildest game of the day Lincoln Region No. 7 DePaul beat No. 10 Oklahoma 104-100, with the Blue Demons winning despite allowing 66 points in the second half. Megan Rogowski’s three-pointer with 40.5 seconds remaining gave DePaul the lead for good in a game that set an NCAA tournament record for the most points scored in a game that did not go to overtime.