No. 3 seed Ohio State Buckeyes over No. 6 seed North Carolina Tar Heels, 71-69
Jacy Sheldon split two defenders with a crossover dribble that she nearly lost control of and then rose up for a little teardrop that seemed like it might be a little too strong but went in after hitting the back of the rim to put the Buckeyes up 71-69 with 1.8 seconds remaining. It proved to be the game-winner, as the ensuing North Carolina inbound went off the backboard and down to Buckeye Rikki Harris, who threw a long pass to Cotie McMahon as time expired.
Sheldon not only made the winning shot, but was the player of the game for Ohio State with 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and two steals. She put up the best Ohio State stat line in the first round as well; it seems she’s back to being the team’s best player after struggling to re-establish herself when she first came back from her leg injury. Also, the Buckeyes are simply using her more. She averaged 15 minutes over three Big Ten Tournament games before playing 36 in the first round of the Big Dance and all 40 on Monday.
Ohio State was up 62-50 with 7:02 to go before the Heels went on a 9-0 run. They went on that run without their best player, Deja Kelly, who rolled her ankle right before it and didn’t return until 2:33 remaining. Her return was crucial because she hit a beautiful mid-range shot to tie the game at 9.8 seconds remaining. She had made the game-winning 3-point play for the Heels in the first round and was nearly the hero again, but Sheldon had other ideas.
After struggling early against James Madison in the first round, Ohio State got off to an 8-0 lead in this one. North Carolina was able to come back and only trailed by two after one. The Buckeyes won the second 17-14 before an even third. Taylor Mikesell drove baseline, leaned into her defender for contact and dropped in a floater for a 3-point play that closed the third and gave the Buckeyes momentum entering the fourth. She also made the right corner three that made it 62-50, and finished 4-of-8 from downtown with 17 points, three helpers and two swipes.
Eboni Walker added 15 points, seven boards and three assists to the winning cause, while McMahon chipped in 14 points and nine rebounds.
Kelly notched 22 points, three steals and two blocks in defeat. She was backed up by Alyssa Ustby’s 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals and Kennedy Todd-Williams’ 16 points and two steals.
No. 4 seed Villanova Wildcats over No. 12 seed FGCU Eagles, 76-57
Villanova’s Maddy Siegrist went for 31 points to give her 66 points through two tournament games. She added six rebounds, four steals and four blocks.
Lucy Olsen was almost just as impressive for the Wildcats with 23 points, 10 boards and seven assists.
FGCU was a popular pick to advance to the second round and was no pushover. The Eagles seemed to have the necessary swagger to advance to the Sweet Sixteen, so Villanova showed a lot in winning by 19. It led 26-11 after one, endured a second-quarter battle that it lost 22-13 and then won the third 26-16 and the fourth 11-8.
Uju Ezeudu managed nine points and nine rebounds in defeat.
The Wildcats won field goal percentage 47.8 to 35.6. The Eagles attempt 31.4 threes per game, took 14 in the first round and 21 on Monday, making seven in the latter case. The Wildcats, on the other hand, were 5-of-22 from long range. The teams combined to attempt just 17 free throws. Villanova won rebounds 42-30, second-chance points 14-6 and fast-break points 13-0.