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Around the NCAAW Weekly: UConn, South Dakota State clinch regular-season titles

The UConn Huskies are wrapping up a dominant year in the Big East, while the South Dakota State Jackrabbits have taken at least a share of the Summit League for the seventh time. Plus, the Maryland Terrapins are dominating and the Florida State Seminoles picked up a major upset win.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Seton Hall at Connecticut
Paige Bueckers has had a phenomenal freshman season for UConn.
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

“Around the NCAAW Weekly” highlights the notable events of the week. Check out the milestones, surprises, best games and outstanding performances for games played through Sunday, Feb. 21:


Milestones/accomplishments

No. 1 UConn Huskies

In their first year back in the Big East, the Huskies have once again won the conference regular-season title. With an 83-32 win over the Xavier Musketeers on Saturday, they clinched at least a share of it.

UConn has won all 15 if its Big East contests so far and has three more to go. It’s average margin of victory in the conference is 35.9 with the closest call coming on Feb. 10 by 21 points against the Seton Hall Pirates. That was part of a three-game stretch where the Huskies won by under 30. Their only other sub-30 margin of victory came in their Big East opener against Seton Hall on Dec. 15, back when they were still getting warmed up.

UConn has gotten back to its dominant ways with victories of 45 and 51 in its last two games. Its biggest blowout of the season was by 68 points over the Butler Bulldogs on Jan. 19.

The DePaul Blue Demons’ 83-72 Saturday loss to the Creighton Bluejays allowed UConn to clinch the title early. It has now won 19 Big East regular-season championships.

At the beginning of the week, UConn became the No. 1 team in the nation, extending its streak of holding the No. 1 spot at some point to nine seasons, which is the longest active streak in the country. The Huskies have been No. 1 during 246 weeks since 1994-95.

No. 23 South Dakota State Jackrabbits

The Jackrabbits defeated the North Dakota State Bison 69-60 (postgame score correction) on Saturday to clinch at least a share of the Summit League regular-season title for the seventh time in program history. They are a perfect 12-0 in the conference.

South Dakota State senior Tylee Irwin scored 31 points against North Dakota State and reached 1,000 points for her career.

No. 9 Maryland Terrapins

Maryland, which was red-hot to finish its 2019-20 campaign, is dominating in a similar fashion as the 2020-21 regular season winds down. The Terps have won their last five games by 35 points on average after losing to the No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes by two points on Jan. 25.

No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks

The Gamecocks have outrebounded a ranked opponent by double digits seven times this year. They won the battle on the boards 49-30 against the No. 17 Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday.

No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies

With a 66-55 victory over the Ole Miss Rebels on Sunday, the Aggies notched their 16th 20-win season in a row. Senior Ciera Johnson reached 1,000 career points in the contest.

No. 3 Louisville Cardinals

With an 82-58 win over the Pitt Panthers on Thursday, the Cards scripted their 11th 20-win season in a row, which continues the program record. The team has posted 13 seasons of 20-plus wins out of the 14 during which Jeff Walz has been the head coach.

No. 18 Arkansas Razorbacks

Arkansas senior Chelsea Dungee broke a Bud Walton Arena record for most 37-plus point games with 38 tallies on Friday. The 38 points was the third-most prolific scoring performance in the SEC this year and marked a season high for Dungee, who went 11-of-22 from the field and 14-of-17 from the stripe. She has now scored 37-plus in Fayetteville, Ark. five times.

No. 19 DePaul Blue Demons

The Blue Demons saw a pair of 1,000-point milestones reached last week. Junior Lexi Held got there on Monday and junior Sonya Morris accomplished the feat on Wednesday. Blue Demon senior Deja Church had already reached 1,000 career points on Jan. 21, making it three DePaul players who have made it there this season.

Held also swiped a career-high seven steals on Saturday and has 33 thefts in the past seven games.

No. 12 South Florida Bulls

Bulls senior Shae Leverett reached 600 career rebounds on Wednesday.

No. 24 Northwestern Wildcats

The Wildcats put up incredible defensive statistics in a loss to the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Wednesday. They notched a season-high 21 steals and forced 28 turnovers. Veronica Burton (eight), Sydney Wood (six) and Jordan Hamilton (five) all set or tied career highs in steals.

Streak tracker

Aari McDonald of the Arizona Wildcats: 83-straight games with double-digit points

No. 12 South Florida Bulls: Program record 12-straight wins and program record 11-straight AAC wins

Surprises

Florida State Seminoles over No. 3 Louisville Cardinals (Sunday)

The Seminoles (9-6, 8-6 ACC) are currently a 10-seed in ESPN’s Bracketology and this win will help their case for a higher seed. Florida State is now No. 47 in the NET rankings, while Louisville is No. 6.

No. 21 Tennessee Lady Volunteers over No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks (Thursday)

Though they lost to the No. 22 Georgia Bulldogs on Sunday to fall to 1-1 on the week, the Lady Vols made news with one of the most notable upsets of the week, defeating the No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks 75-67 on Thursday.

Tennessee ended an incredible SEC winning streak of 31 games for South Carolina and had to come back from down as much as 16 to do so. It marked their largest comeback under head coach Kellie Harper and the first time since a Dec. 10, 2017 win over the then-No. 2 Texas Longhorns that the program defeated a Top 5 team.

Oregon State Beavers over No. 8 UCLA Bruins (Sunday)

The Beavers (8-6, 6-6 Pac-12) started the season ranked at No. 18 but fell out of receiving votes on Jan. 11. They are one of the first eight out in ESPN’s Bracketology as of Feb. 16, but that could change with this win. Oregon State is now No. 34 in the NET, while UCLA is No. 9.

Creighton Bluejays over No. 19 DePaul Blue Demons (Saturday)

The Bluejays are No. 103 in the NET, while the Blue Demons are No. 61.

BYU Cougars over No. 16 Gonzaga Bulldogs (Thursday)

The BYU win gave Gonzaga its first blemish in WCC play. The Cougars are currently the last team in according to ESPN’s Bracketology and are No. 51 in the NET, while the Bulldogs are No. 20.

Nebraska Cornhuskers over No. 24 Northwestern Wildcats (Wednesday)

Nebraska swept Northwestern on the season with another upset. The Huskers (11-9, 9-8 Big Ten) are not currently in ESPN’s projected bracket, but could get there and this win was great for their resume. They are No. 74 in the NET, while the Wildcats are No. 31.

Boston College Eagles over Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (Sunday)

The Eagles held the Yellow Jackets to just 43 points while scoring 49 of their own. This was just the sixth win of the season for BC and its second in ACC play. It is No. 79 in the NET, while Georgia Tech is No. 25.

COVID/other news

Colgate Raiders

The Raiders, who began the year with four players out for the season due to injury, canceled the remainder of their games on Thursday after a seventh player was ruled out for the season.

Atlantic 10

The A-10 announced on Thursday that it has moved its women’s basketball tournament back to March 10.

Games of the week

Wednesday: South Florida Bulls 69, Cincinnati Bearcats 65 (OT)

The Bulls went on a 5-0 to end the game and secure the win. Bethy Mununga (19 points, 14 rebounds) made two free throws with 1:05 remaining in the second overtime and then made a layup with 22 ticks left to make it 68-65. Cincinnati’s Caitlyn Wilson (18 points) missed a 3-pointer with six seconds to go and Sydni Harvey (23 points) iced the game with a free throw at one second remaining.

A Mununga layup with 1:33 left in regulation tied it at 56-56. After that each side missed out on two chances to take the lead, including an Elisa Pinzan missed jumper at the buzzer for South Florida. The Bulls had been down five with 4:38 to go.

Pinzan finished with 11 points and nine assists for the winners. IImar’l Thomas led Cincinnati with 23 points and added seven assists and six boards.

Thursday: Indiana Hoosiers 70, Michigan Wolverines 65

The Hoosiers tied the game with Grace Berger free throws at 3:32 remaining in the fourth and took the lead with two more makes from Berger with 2:18 to go. Indiana led the rest of the way, though Leigha Brown of Michigan (19 points) cut it to two with a free throw at 1:05 remaining. Another couple of free throws from Berger and one from Nicole Cardaño-Hillary resulted in the final edge of five points. Indiana had been down by one entering the fourth.

Ali Patberg led Indiana with 21 points, while Berger had 16 and Aleksa Gulbe was good for 13 points and seven rebounds. Naz Hillmon notched 23 points and 12 rebounds in defeat.

Sunday: Mercer Bears 83, Wofford Terriers 74 (2OT)

The Bears ran away with this one in the second overtime period after late 3-pointers saved them in both regulation and the first overtime. Jaron Dougherty (18 points, 14 rebounds) made a triple with two seconds left in the first OT and Jada Lewis (26 points, eight assists, eight rebounds) was the heroine in regulation with a trey that tied it at the 10-second mark.

Shannon Titus led Mercer with 27 points and added nine boards and four steals. Lilly Hatton led Wofford with 26 points, while also contributing eight rebounds and four blocks. Jamari McDavid chipped in with 18 points and eight rebounds for the Terriers.

Other top performances

Kierstan Bell: 42 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks for the Florida Gulf Coast Eagles in a win over the Jacksonville Dolphins on Sunday.

Dyaisha Fair: 36 points, eight rebounds, seven assists and four steals for the Buffalo Bulls in a win over the Ball State Cardinals on Saturday.

Vivian Gray: 38 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks for the Texas Tech Lady Raiders in a win over the Kansas Jayhawks on Saturday.

Lauren Heard: 38 points, nine rebounds and five assists for the TCU Horned Frogs in a loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers on Saturday.

Chelsea Dungee: 38 points, four assists and two steals for the Arkansas Razorbacks in a win over the Ole Miss Rebels on Friday.

AP rankings (Feb. 22)

The Indiana Hoosiers (up three spots to No. 11) took the biggest rise among teams in the Top 15. The Georgia Bulldogs, however, took the biggest rise of all (from No. 22 to No. 17).

In the Top 10, the NC State Wolfpack and Texas A&M Aggies were fourth and fifth and are now second and third after the South Carolina Gamecocks and Louisville Cardinals both lost. Their losses also allowed the Stanford Cardinal to move from No. 6 to No. 4.

The DePaul Blue Demons took the biggest fall of the week (from No. 19 to No. 24). Meanwhile, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights entered the rankings at No. 25, replacing the previously-No. 24 Northwestern Wildcats.

Best upcoming matchup

No. 5 South Carolina Gamecocks (18-3, 13-1 SEC) vs. No. 3 Texas A&M Aggies (20-1, 11-1 SEC)

When: Sunday, Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. ET

Where: Reed Arena in College Station, TX

How to watch/listen: ESPN2/Gamecock All-Access or Radio: 1620 AM or 94.5 FM (Texas A&M) or Texas A&M Aggies Sports Network

Reason to watch: If Texas A&M wins on Thursday, this one will decide the SEC regular-season champion. The Aggies will have a better winning percentage than the Gamecocks in the conference if they win out.