The NCAA women’s basketball tournament completed its first round with just 11 games decided by single digits, but the round also saw six lower-seeded teams advance to the second round. By comparison, the first round in the men’s tournament saw 18 games decided by single-figures and five upsets.
While the top-15 seeded teams are intact in the women’s tournament three No. 6 seeds were sent packing. The three No. 11 seeds that earned victories were Gonzaga, Arkansas-Little Rock and Miami (Fla.).
Gonzaga (25-7) used a 17-1 run late in the first half to pull away from No. 6 George Washington en route to a 82-69 victory. Sunny Greinacher led the way with 19 points and eight rebounds, Keani Albanez added 19 points and four steals, and Elle Tinkle scored 11 for the Bulldogs, who improved to 9-7 in the NCAA tournament.
Gonzaga will face No. 3 Oregon State (27-4) in Corvallis in the second round on Sunday.
Arkansas-Little Rock (29-4) surprised No. 6 Texas A&M 69-60, to give coach Joe Foley his No. 700 career victory. The Trojans, who led most of the game, received a season-high 25 points from Taylor Gault while Kiera Clark contributed 22 points. Gault made 5-of-7 three-pointers.
UALR shot 53 percent from the field in the second half and outscored Texas A&M 42-32. The victory is the Trojans second ever tournament win. UALR will now face No. 3 Arizona State in Tempe on Monday.
Miami is still alive in the tournament, thanks in large part to sophomore Adrienne Motley. Motley poured in 30 points, which included a jumper in the paint that put the Hurricanes up 73-71, as the Hurricanes defeated No. 6 Washington 86-80. Jessica Thomas had 19 points and Michelle Woods added 17 for the Hurricanes (20-12), who shot 7 of 12 from three-point range.
Miami will now face No. 3 Iowa in Iowa on Sunday. The Canes have won three NCAA games in the last five years and five tournament victories ever.
The Arkansas Razorbacks, Pittsburgh Panthers and DePaul Blue Demons were also lower seeded teams that have advanced to the second round. Arkansas and Pittsburgh are No. 10 seeds while DePaul is a No. 9 seed.
Arkansas (18-13) overcame a 13-point second half deficit to defeat No. 7 Northwestern 59-57. The NCAA victory is the first for head coach Jimmy Dykes, who is in his first season as a head coach after being a ESPN analyst for a number of years.
Kelsey Brooks led the way for Arkansas with 15 points while Jessica Jackson contributed 14 and Jhasmin Bowen added 12. Jackson made 1-of-2 free throws to give the Razorbacks a 56-55 lead with 30 seconds left.
Arkansas will play No. 2 Baylor in Waco on Sunday.
Pittsburgh (20-11) dispatched No. 7 seed Chattanooga 51-40 in Knoxville to advance to play host Tennessee in the second round on Monday. Stasha Carey led the way for the Panthers with 16 points and 13 rebounds, marking just the second time in school history that a player recorded a double-double in NCAA tournament play.
Briana Kisel added 13 points and four assists for Pittsburgh. She is the first player in Pittsburgh history to have 1,500 points, 500 rebounds and 400 assists.
DePaul (27-7) defeated No. 8 seed Minnesota 79-72. The Blue Demons, down by double-digits at halftime, used to a 22-4 run in the second half to advance to the second round.
Megan Podkowa led the way for DePaul with 23 points. Brittany Hranko, who came in averaging 19.6 points a game, finished with just 10 as she was 3-of-16 from the floor. Hranko added six assists and in doing so became DePaul’s all-time assists leader with 676.
DePaul will face No. 1 seed Notre Dame on Sunday in South Bend.
(Photo via Pittsburgh Panthers)