Here’s Part 3 of our roundup of Saturday’s action:
No. 5 seed Louisville Cardinals over No. 12 seed Drake Bulldogs, 83-81
Drake kept up with Lousiville in one of the tournament's most balanced and competitive games, but failed to pull off the upset, falling 83-81 in the first-round matchup. Louisville could never pull away and victory was only secured when Drake’s Grace Berg missed a potential game-tying three in the closing seconds of the fourth. Hailey Van Lith was a big reason Lousiville keeps dancing: she had 26 points on 10-of-20 shooting. Guard Mykasa Robinson also had a big game with 14 points, seven assists and four rebounds.
No. 5 seed Oklahoma Sooners over No. 12 seed Portland Pilots, 85-63
The 5 vs. 12 matchups are notorious for upsets. Usually, an overrated middle-of-the-pack team from a big conference against a top team from a smaller conference. That recipe was there for Oklahoma vs. Portland, but Oklahoma proved they are legit. They dominated Portland from the jump and never took their foot off the gas, blowing them out by 18 points and, at one point, being up by as many as 27.
The Pilots struggled to get going offensively, shooting 15 percent from three on 19 attempts, while Oklahoma shot 36 percent from deep and 41 percent from the field. The Oklahoma guards were just too much for Portland to handle as four of the five players in double digits from the Sooners were guards, including Skylar Vann and Aubrey Jones, who did it coming off the bench. Oklahoma will now face off against UCLA on Monday night.
No. 3 seed Duke Blue Devils over No. 14 seed Iona Gels, 89-49
How far can the Duke Blue Devils go? If Saturday is any indicator, pretty far. The Blue Devils played a near-perfect game. They won the rebounding battle 43-14, won by 40 points and never trailed. Duke was able to dominate while clearing off their bench. Ten players played for at least 18 minutes and everyone saw the floor for at least a minute. Of the starters, Celeste Taylor and Elizabeth Balogun both stood out, scoring 13 points apiece, with Taylor shooting lights out from three, going 3-of-4 on the night.
No. 4 seed Texas Longhorns over No. 13 seed East Carolina Pirates, 79-40
Texas shut the door on East Carolina in the second quarter, outscoring the Pirates 22-9, and then nearly replicated that feat in the third, winning the frame 21-9. East Carolina freshman sensation Amiya Joyner did her best to protect the rim and produce (she ended the night with 10 points and eight rebounds), but Texas was too efficient from the field, shooting 54 percent as a team.
Shaylee Gonzales was sensational for Texas. She led the team in minutes, points and steals. She did everything but sell popcorn in the first round to ensure Texas would advance. Rori Harmon continued to push the Longhorn offense along with 12 assists, one short of her career-high. The focus and dominance of the Longhorns was impressive, and their upcoming matchup against Louisville is set up to be a competitive and entertaining game.
No. 4 seed UCLA Bruins over No. 13 seed Sacramento State Hornets, 67-45
Maybe it was the home-court advantage for UCLA or the 23-10 first quarter in the Bruins’ favor. Regardless, Sacramento State could not pull off the upset against UCLA in this California showdown, losing 67-45.
Charisma Osborne is good at basketball.
Whenever the Bruins needed a basket, Osborne seemed to be involved in the play. She had 11 points, 12 rebounds and five assists in her 31 minutes. Fellow starter Kiki Rice is also good at basketball and she demonstrated it on Saturday night, shooting 54 percent from the field and leading the Bruins with 15 points. For Sacramento State, being in the big dance itself was an accomplishment. As Saturday night proved, they have some work to do to keep up with a Pac-12 team like UCLA. The Hornets can be proud of their appearance and junior forward Isnelle Natabou’s performance. She had a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds and did it on 8-of-12 shooting.