The Big 12 Conference wrapped up the first round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament with five games on Saturday. Here are our thoughts on the first round.
Don’t forget we have the entire schedule, results and broadcast channels for the tournament here.
The End for Ashley Joens
Iowa State star Ashley Joens is now a ‘former’ Iowa State star as the No. 5-seeded Cyclones fell to the No. 12-seeded Toledo Rockets, 80-73.
It was the first NCAA Tournament win for the Rockets since 1996, which was the year after that Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly left Toledo to take the Cyclones job.
It was a big second quarter that carried the day for Toledo, which outscored Iowa State 23-13 in the quarter and shot 48 percent from the floor, much better than Iowa State’s 34 percent.
ISU also had little answer for Quinesha Lockett, who had 24 points and 13 rebounds — and that was after failing to score a point in the first quarter.
Joens, who leaves Iowa State as its all-time leading scorer and rebounder, among other categories, finished with 23 points and 13 rebounds. Lexi Donarski had 13 points, while Emily Ryan and Denae Fritz each had 11 points.
One thing is certain — things will be changing in Ames. No Joens means a time of transition for a program defined by her greatness for five seasons.
Thriller in Bloomington
What an incredible game between Oklahoma State and Miami (FL), even if Oklahoma State came in on the losing end, 62-61.
The Cowgirls (21-12) were up 17 points at halftime. Things were going so well that Anna Gret Asi and Lior Garzon hit bank-shot 3-pointers to end the first and second quarters, respectively. The Hurricanes had some things to figure out.
They did in a big way. In the third quarter Miami shot better than 60 percent, ramped up its full-court press and outscored Oklahoma State 20-7, but the Cowgirls still led going into the fourth.
At one point in the fourth, Miami led by seven points. But Oklahoma State rallied back. Naomie Alnatas made it a three-point game with a layup with 44 seconds left. After a long possession at the other end, Miami’s Haley Cavinder made it to the free-throw line, made one and gave the Hurricanes a four-point lead.
The Cowgirls answered with an Asi 3-pointers with 5.3 seconds left (another bank shot, no less). That cut the Miami lead to one.
Miami was trying to run out the clock with an inbounds pass on its end, but the Hurricanes were called for a quick five-second call. That gave Oklahoma State a chance to win.
But, Alnatas wasn’t able to make a scoop lay-up as the buzzer sounded, ending Oklahoma State’s season.
Asi had 16 points. Alnatas had 10 points. Taylen Collins was incredible on the glass, securing 16 rebounds. But, it came down to Miami’s hot second half and Oklahoma State running out of time in one of the most compelling first-round games of the day.
Baylor’s Big Rally
No. 7 seed Baylor was down 22-4 after the first quarter to No. 10 Alabama in Storrs, Conn. That should have been the end of it, right?
Ja’Mee Asberry was having none of that. Asberry set a Baylor NCAA Tournament record with seven 3-pointers and scored 26 points as the Bears rallied from that 18-point deficit to beat the Crimson Tide, 78-74.
Baylor was incredible down the stretch at the free-throw line, with freshman Bella Fonteroy, senior Caitlin Bickle and Asberry all hitting free throws to built a lead that Alabama couldn’t overcome. Fontleroy’s final two free throws were the final margin.
Bickle and Sarah Andrews each had 14 points and Fontleroy had 10. Darianna Littlepage-Buggs — who scored the only Baylor points of the first quarter — finished with five points but suffered a finger injury. She did play, but wasn’t effective.
Baylor became the first Big 12 team to move into the second round and will face No. 2-seeded UConn on Monday.
Sooners, Longhorns Roll
It took about three quarters, but Oklahoma eventually took care of the Portland Pilots in its first-round game, 85-63, thanks to a well-balanced offensive effort.
Meanwhile, Texas needed little effort to take care of East Carolina, 79-40.
The Sooners were only up five points at halftime, but a 24-13 third quarter put the Pilots away. While Madi Williams carried the Sooners in the first half and finished with 13 points, a host of other Sooners got in on the act.
Williams’ fellow super-seniors, Taylor Robertson and Ana Llanusa, had 14 points and 11 points, respectively. Aubrey Joens, the younger sister of Iowa State’s Ashley Joens, had 14 points. Liz Scott could have had a double-double with nine points and 12 rebounds. Skylar Vann did have a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Texas was up 45-24 at the half and was never threatened. The win set up a second-round showdown with Louisville at the Moody Center. Texas is the only Big 12 school hosting a sub-regional.
Shaylee Gonzalez had 20 points to lead Texas, which included three 3-pointers. Taylor Jones came off the bench to score 16 points. DeYona Gaston had a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Shay Holle had 10 points. Rori Harmon only had six points, but she had a game-high 12 assists.
West Virginia’s ‘Two’ Losses
West Virginia’s season ended on Friday when the Mountaineers fell to Arizona, 75-62, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. All in all, it was a solid start to the Dawn Plitzuweit era, who led the Mountaineers to a 19-12 record and a No. 10 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
None of us realized that would also be the END of the Plitzuweit era. On Saturday morning she took the jot at Minnesota, replacing Lindsay Whalen.
So, now the Mountaineers must find a second head coach in as many seasons while, hopefully, retaining the talent that Plitzuweit is leaving behind. There could be a lot more turnover in Morgantown.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard