When the second day of NCAA Tournament action was over, one 12-seed beat a 5 and three 11-seeds defeated their region’s sixth-ranked team. It was a much more upset-heavy run than the opening day, which had two 10-seeds claim victory.
The biggest upset of the day occurred when No. 12 Florida Gulf Coast beat No. 5 Missouri, 80-70, in the Lexington Region. The Eagles enjoyed 21 points from senior guard China Dow, who felt the victory sent a message.
“We’re just putting our name on the map to let people know we are not just a soft, mid-major team,” Dow said. “We can compete with the best of the best.”
FGCU has made the tournament in five out of the seven years it has been eligible in Division 1.
Missouri’s star forward Sophie Cunningham scored 35 points but the Eagles’ defense did a good job of shutting down other options on her team. The Tigers also had an abysmal performance behind the arc, going 4-24 (16.7 percent) from deep.
“Very good defensive team...” Cunningham said. “They did push us out farther than we wanted to, credit to them.”
The Eagles face No. 4 Stanford on Monday, March 19 at 9 p.m. ET in Palo Alto’s Maples Pavilion.
The largest margin of victory among the upsets happened in the Albany Region, where No. 11 Buffalo demolished USF, 102-89. They were able to turn an 11-point second-quarter deficit into a five-point halftime lead after catching fire offensively. Buffalo junior guard Cierra Dillard led all scorers with a career-high 36 points, 21 of them coming off of a 7-13 performance from three.
“Starting with the last five minutes of the first half, we were just feeling it; making stops, getting steals and just finding the flow of the offense,” Dillard told the AP. “When we push in transition, we’re a transition team and the offense just flows naturally.”
Buffalo, the first MAC team to earn an at-large bid since 1996 and winners of the program’s first-ever NCAA Tournament game, takes on No. 3 Florida State on March 19th at 6:30 p.m in Tallahassee, Florida.
Two more 11-seeds, Creighton and Central Michigan, out of the Kansas City and Spokane Regions, respectively, notched upsets on Saturday.
Creighton was able to overcome No. 6 Iowa and the Hawkeyes’ star forward Megan Gustafson, a sensational sophomore who will do postseason damage of her own before her career’s over. Gustafson put up 29 points and grabbed 17 rebounds but the Big Ten Player of the Year didn’t have a lot of help.
The Blue Jays were led by Jaylyn Agnew (24 points) and Sydney Lamberty (20 points) in a game which was pretty close throughout even though Creighton never trailed in the second half. They’ll be taking on No. 3 UCLA in the second round at 9 p.m. on Monday.
Central Michigan made it past No. 6 LSU, 78-69. Four Chippewa starters scored over 12 points, led by 25 from senior forward Tinara Moore, who also grabbed seven rebounds. Moore and Reyna Frost (12 points, 12 rebounds) helped CMU dominate down low. They had a 40-27 rebounding advantage and hit 50 percent of their shots in the school’s first NCAA Tournament win.
“Our players came out and threw the first punch,” Central Michigan coach Sue Guevara said. “Such a big game not just for us but for our conference.”
The Chippewas will play No. 3 Ohio State at 6:30 p.m. on Monday in Columbus, Ohio for the right to make the Sweet 16. All four of the double-digit seeds to win Saturday will be playing at the tournament’s host school for the first two rounds.
Two nine seeds claimed victory on the day as well, with Quinnipiac beating Miami in the Albany Region and Oklahoma State beating Syracuse in the Kansas City Region. Swish Appeal wrote about Quinnipiac's mother-daughter duo leading the way as the program continues to grow.