BYU, Florida surprise in women’s tournament


STATE COLLEGE, Pa. -- Cassie Peoples scored 21 points and all five Florida starters scored in double figures, leading the Gators past Dayton 83-69 Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.

The 11th-seeded Gators (20-12) will play Penn State on Tuesday night in the Stanford Regional.

In a first round full of lopsided scores, the Gators pulled off a rare upset by a double-digit seed. Jaterra Bonds and Ronni Williams each had 15 points for Florida.

Andrea Hoover led the Flyers (23-8) with 22 points and Celeste Edwards scored 15 points. Hoover and Edwards helped the Flyers storm to a double-digit lead in the second before Florida started to rally.

The Gators shot 51 percent in the second half to wipe out the deficit and stun Dayton.

The Flyers appeared to put the sting of losing to Fordham in the A-10 tournament championship game behind in a hurry. Hoover and Saicha Allen-Grant hit early 3s in the second half helped push Dayton’s lead to 11.

The Gators stormed back and wiped it out with 8:44 left in the half. Peoples scored a layup, Florida forced on a turnover, and Kalya Lewis went inside for a bucket for a 57-56 lead.

Carlie Needles first 3 of the game made it 60-56. The Flyers kept creeping within a bucket of tying the game, only to get pushed back with a score on the other end. Needles, a 5-foot-6 guard who averaged only six points a game this season, swished another 3 for a 67-60 lead that finally gave the Gators the breathing room they needed.

Dayton’s Celeste Edwards missed a layup that could have made it a three-point game, Florida grabbed the rebound and Needles completed the fastbreak layup for a 69-63 lead.

Hoover, who led Dayton this season in points, assists and 3-point shooting, didn’t have enough left for one more rally. She made 4 of 8 3-pointers and chipped in four rebounds.

Hoover hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 points to give Dayton a 32-29 halftime lead. Deane also had 10 points and the Flyers shot 52 percent from the floor to build the lead.

Florida was back in the tournament for the first time since 2012. The Gators managed a fifth-place finish in the rugged SEC even with one of the thinnest rosters of any tournament team. The Gators have played just eight players in all but two games this season, seven against LSU on Jan. 12 and nine against Florida State and Nov. 21. The played only eight on Sunday -- and didn’t need any more.

Lewis had 11 points and 11 rebounds.

The Gators also have no starters taller than 6-foot, yet they are the ones standing tall in the second round.

BYU 72, N.C. State 57

LOS ANGELES -- BYU entered its NCAA tournament first round matchup as a decided underdog. From the moment the game tipped off however, the Cougars didn’t look the part.

Lexi Eaton scored 25 points, Jennifer Hamson finished one block shy of a triple-double and 12th seeded BYU upset No. 5 North Carolina State 72-57 in the first round of the Lincoln regional on Saturday.

The Cougars (27-6) will face fourth-seeded Nebraska in the second round on Monday at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA’s campus.

"They believed in themselves," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. "This is how we won 27 games -- defend, pound it inside, take what the defense gives us and everyone helping. I’m glad they came and played the way they played all year."

BYU held a seven-point halftime lead and never trailed in the second half, ballooning their lead to 21 at one point. It was the Cougars 11th win in their last 12 games and their first tournament win since 2006.

Hamson, the West Coast Conference Player of the Year, scored 12 points -- all in the second half -- and tied her career-highs with 19 rebounds and nine blocks.

Led by the 6-foot-7 senior center, BYU outrebounded NC State 52-37 and blocked 15 shots.

"My whole focus was just to rebound and play defense," she said. "I have great teammates who take advantage offensively when I’m not feeling it. We just worked together."

Eaton added eight rebounds and four assists, Morgan Bradley added 13 points and 12 rebounds and Kylie Maeda scored 14 points for the Cougars as well.

NC State (25-8) shot a season-worst 27.4 percent from the field in its second-lowest scoring output of the season.

Miah Spencer scored 16 points to lead the Wolfpack, who lost in the first round for the fourth time in their last five tournament appearances.

"Hamson creates some situations maybe you’re not used to seeing," N.C. State coach Wes Moore said. "If you double her they got a lot of kids around her that can knock down shots, which we found out."

Hamson entered averaging four blocks per game, second-best in the nation. She surpassed that mark by halftime, swatting away five shots in the opening half.

Those blocks, plus 17 points from Eaton, helped BYU get out to 33-26 halftime lead. The Cougars finished the half on an 11-2 run, with Eaton accounting for seven of those points.

N.C. State dug itself an early hole by shooting just 23.5 percent (8 of 34) from the floor in the first half, including 2 of 11 from three-point range.

The Wolfpack had a promising start to the second half, cutting the deficit to five at 38-33 with 16:41 to go.

BYU quickly squashed that momentum though, reeling off a 24-8 run to take a commanding 62-41 lead with 5:30 remaining. Four different players scored in the Cougars’ spurt, topped by eight points apiece from Hamson and Maeda.

Spencer tried to engineer a comeback, recording five points and an assist in a 10-2 NC State run, but it was too little too late.

Markeisha Gatling contributed 11 points and eight rebounds and Len’nique Brown had 10 points and five assists for the Wolfpack, who lost five of their final eight games.

Saturday’s scores: Duke 87-45 over Winthrop, Kentucky 106-60 over Wright State, Oklahoma State 61-60 over FGCU, Arizona State 69-61 over Vanderbilt, DePaul 104-100 over Oklahoma, Notre Dame 93-42 over Robert Morris, Syracuse 59-53 over Chatanooga, Purdue 84-55 over Akron, Tennessee 70-46 over Northwestern State, Nebraska 74-55 over Fresno State, California 64-63 over Fordham, Florida State 55-44 over Iowa State, St. John’s 71-68 over USC, Baylor 87-74 over W. Kentucky, BYU 72-57 over NC State, Stanford 81-62 over S. Dakota.

Sunday’s scores: Maryland 90-52 over Army, Michigan State 91-61 over Hampton, Penn State 62-56 over Wichita State, LSU 98-78 over Georgia Tech, Texas 79-61 over Penn, N. Carolina 60-58 over UT Martin, Florida 83-69 over Dayton, West Virginia 76-61 over Albany.


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