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ACC, SEC and Big Ten tournaments: Jayla Smith’s clutch three has Purdue looking good in bracketology

Jayla Smith made a game-winning three for the Purdue Boilermakers with five seconds remaining.

Wisconsin v Purdue
Purdue, currently on the right side of the bubble, secured a precious victory on Thursday.
Photo by David Berding/Getty Images

The Purdue Boilermakers are looking good in bracketology after a thrilling Thursday victory. The Miami Hurricanes helped their own cause as well.

Elsewhere, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons improved to one game above .500 by defeating a Florida State team that was without superstar freshman Ta’Niya Latson.

The reigning SEC Tournament champ, Kentucky, and a storied Texas A&M program under a big-name new head coach in Joni Taylor are both still dancing — not in the Big Dance, but in the little dance that is the SEC Tournament. They have to win the whole thing to get into the NCAA Tournament, but they’ve got their moment in the spotlight for now.

Here’s more on those teams and much more from the Big Ten, ACC and SEC tournaments:

Big Ten Tournament

No. 7 seed Purdue Boilermakers over No. 10 seed Wisconsin Badgers, 57-55

Purdue won on Jayla Smith’s 3-pointer with five seconds remaining. Jeanae Terry (six points, eight rebounds, six assists, five steals) and Abbey Ellis (19 points) were the other stars.

Julie Popisilova and Maty Wilke had 17 points apiece in defeat.

Smith’s three may end up ensuring the Boilermakers make the Big Dance. They were part of the “last four byes” in ESPN’s Tuesday bracketology. A loss to Wisconsin (No. 111 in the NET rankings) and some success achieved by other teams on the bubble could have put Purdue on the wrong side of the bubble.

No. 5 seed Michigan Wolverines over No. 13 seed Penn State Lady Lions, 63-61

Penn State’s Makenna Marisa missed a shot to tie at the buzzer. Michigan led by nine with 2:09 to play before the Lady Lions nearly made a comeback.

Leigha Brown nearly had a double-double for the Wolverines with 12 points, nine assists and two steals.

Leilani Kapinus stuffed the stat sheet with 16 points, seven rebounds, five helpers, five swipes and two blocks in defeat.

No. 9 seed Michigan State Spartans over No. 8 seed Nebraska Cornhuskers, 67-64

Maddie Krull missed a 3-pointer to tie at the buzzer. The Spartans had led by eight with 1:06 to play.

DeeDee Hagemann paced Michigan State with 18 points to go along with three assists and two steals. Jaz Shelley went for 24 points, five boards and two swipes in defeat.

This game was critical in terms of the bubble. Michigan State may now move up from the “next four out,” while Nebraska may fall from the “first four out.”

No. 6 seed Illinois Fighting Illini over No. 11 seed Rutgers Scarlet Knights, 81-55

Makira Cook came away with 24 points and five assists to go beside Genesis Bryant’s 21-point, five-rebound, five-assist performance for the Illini. Kaylene Smikle managed 22 points and five boards in defeat.

Illinois built up a 26-point lead through three quarters before an even final frame.

ACC Tournament

No. 6 seed Miami Hurricanes over No. 11 seed Boston College Eagles, 84-69

Miami, like Purdue, was part of the “last four byes” in ESPN’s latest bracketology and is looking good after this win.

The Hurricanes, who won the fourth 24-13, received double-figure scoring performances from Lashae Dwyer (19 points), Lola Pendande (15 points, eight rebounds, three assists), Haley Cavinder (14 points, nine boards, three helpers, two steals) and Destiny Harden (13 points, nine rebounds, two swipes).

Andrea Daly had 15 points for the Eagles.

No. 12 seed Wake Forest Demon Deacons over No. 5 seed Florida State Seminoles, 65-54

The Deacs scored two points in the second quarter and 29 in the third! They lost the second 13-2 to trail by 18 at the break before winning the third 29-8 and the fourth 20-12. Olivia Summiel posted the best stat line for the winners with 13 points, nine rebounds, five assists and four blocks. Jewel Spear was good for a game-high 19 points to go along with seven boards, while Demeara Hinds (12 points, nine rebounds, four steals) and Elise Williams (10 points, seven rebounds, three assists, two steals) were also key to the victory.

Makayla Timpson registered 14 points, nine boards and three swipes in defeat. The Deacs won field goal percentage 43.9 to 31.1, rebounds 43-33, second-chance points 12-4 and points in the paint 30-18. They had just five ACC wins in the regular season compared to FSU’s 12.

No. 8 seed NC State Wolfpack over No. 9 seed Syracuse Orange, 83-58

The Pack earned their first double-digit victory since beating Louisville 63-51 on Jan. 22 and won by 25 no less. Jakia Brown-Turner, who was an All-America honorable mention as a sophomore in 2020-21 but has seen her role diminish since then, led the way with 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Camille Hobby added 16 points and six boards, while Aziaha James was good for 10 points, six rebounds, five helpers and two steals.

Dyaisha Fair managed 11 points, six assists and four swipes in defeat.

Syracuse can only pray now, as it was the “last team in” in ESPN’s latest bracketology.

No. 7 seed North Carolina Tar Heels over No. 10 seed Clemson Tigers, 68-58

Alyssa Ustby (15 points, six rebounds, four assists, two steals) was the star for the Heels, who have set up a third matchup this season in their storied rivalry with Duke. They swept the Blue Devils in the regular season.

Amari Robinson dropped an impressive 27 points in defeat.

SEC Tournament

No. 14 seed Kentucky Wildcats over No. 6 seed Alabama Crimson Tide, 67-56

Jada Walker (24 points, seven assists, six steals) and Maddie Scherr (19 points, four assists, six blocks) were phenomenal for the Wildcats, who trailed by six at the break before winning the third 18-13 and the fourth 27-13. Kentucky won field goal percentage 50 to 38.7 and forced 19 turnovers.

Aaliyah Nye led Alabama with 15 points and three swipes.

The Wildcats had just two SEC wins; the Crimson Tide had nine. Alabama was a No. 8 seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology.

No. 13 seed Texas A&M Aggies over No. 5 seed Mississippi State Bulldogs, 79-72

Aaliyah Patty was 2-of-3 from downtown with 15 points, six rebounds, two steals and five blocks and Sydney Bowles was 6-of-8 from distance with 19 points to help the Aggies take down the Bulldogs. McKenzie Green hit a three with 1:17 remaining that gave Texas A&M a two-possession lead for good.

Jessika Carter (18 points, five rebounds, two blocks) and Jerkaila Jordan (12 points, eight boards, three helpers, two steals) were solid in defeat.

The Aggies had just two SEC wins; the Bulldogs had nine. Mississippi State was a No. 9 seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology.

No. 8 seed Arkansas Razorbacks over No. 9 seed Missouri Tigers, 85-74

Arkansas, which received 34 points from Chrissy Carr, trailed by eight entering a fourth quarter that it won 29-10. Samara Spencer added 19 points, five boards, four helpers and two blocks, while Makayla Daniels was good for 17 points, three assists and two steals and Saylor Poffenbarger had six points, six rebounds and five assists. Carr was 6-of-8 from deep and 6-of-6 at the free throw line. Daniels was 8-of-8 at the stripe.

Lauren Hansen notched 19 points and four steals in defeat.

Arkansas was part of the “first four out” in ESPN’s latest bracketology; Missouri (No. 57 in the NET rankings but not included in bracketology) needed to win this game to stay alive and potentially get on the bubble.

No. 7 seed Georgia Lady Bulldogs over No. 10 seed Auburn Tigers, 63-47

The Lady Dawgs gained 11 points of their 16-point advantage in the second quarter. Alisha Lewis was phenomenal with eight points, 12 assists and five steals, while Diamond Battles paced the winners with 18 points.

Aicha Coulibaly posted 13 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals in defeat.

Georgia was a No. 9 seed in ESPN’s latest bracketology.