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Connecticut’s Paige Bueckers, center, reacts during the first half of a first-round women’s college basketball game against Mercer in the NCAA tournament, Saturday, March 19, 2022, in Storrs, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
STORRS, Conn. — Paige Bueckers started and scored 12 points as UConn began its run toward a 12th NCAA Tournament title with an 83-38 first-round rout of No. 15 seed Mercer.
Last season’s national player of the year played 25 minutes, the most in six games since coming back from a left knee injury that kept her out for more than two months. She also had five assists and four rebounds.
Christyn Williams had 13 points to lead the Huskies (26-5), who opened the tournament with a win for the 28th straight year. Dorka Juhasz added 10 points and nine rebounds.
Shannon Titus had 12 points to lead Mercer (23-7), which was making its fourth straight appearance in the NCAA Tournament. The Southern Conference champion Bears have never won an NCAA Tournament game.
The Huskies, who play UCF in the second round, held Mercer to just 13 baskets on 56 shots (23%).
Mercer played much of the game without leading scorer Amoria Neal-Tysor (17 points per game), who went down hard on her left elbow while driving to the basket in the second quarter and had to be helped to the locker room. She finished with four points and came out for the second half with her arm in a sling.
UCF 69, FLORIDA 52
STORRS, Conn. — Brittney Smith came off the bench to score a career-high 26 points and No. 7 seed UCF beat in-state rival Florida for the first time after 26 consecutive losses.
Diamond Battles added 18 points and Masseny Kaba had 14 for the Knights (26-3).
Nina Rickards had 17 points and Zippy Broughton added 12 for injury-riddled Florida (21-11), which played the second half without center Faith Dut. She went down just before halftime with a right leg injury.
NORTH CAROLINA STATE 96, LONGWOOD 68
RALEIGH, N.C. — Raina Perez scored 16 points to lead five North Carolina State players in double digits as the No. 1 Wolfpack pulled away from No. 16 Longw
Perez made seven of her eight shots for N.C. State, which won a program-record 30th game this season. Jakia Brown-Turner had 15 points and seven rebounds, and Elissa Cunane tallied 13 points and seven boards. Diamond Johnson and Jada Boyd added 12 points apiece.
Longwood (22-12) got 25 points from Akila Smith and 19 from Kyla McMakin.
N.C. State plays Kansas State in the second round.
KANSAS STATE 50, WASHINGTON STATE 40
RALEIGH, N.C. — Ayoka Lee had 20 points and 15 rebounds as No. 9 Kansas State overcame a frustrating defensive scheme to outlast No. 8 Washington State
Lee, a second-team AP All-America selection, made just one shot from the floor in the first half but rallied in the second to lead the Wildcats (20-11) to their first tournament victory since 2017. Brylee Glenn added 14 points for Kansas State.
Washington State (19-11) was powered by Charlisse Leger-Walker’s 20 points on offense. Ula Motuga grabbed 14 rebounds and scored five points.
The Wildcats didn’t allow the Cougars to make a field goal in the final five minutes of the game.
INDIANA 85, CHARLOTTE 51
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Mackenzie Holmes scored 19 points to lead Indiana past Charlotte on the Hoosiers’ home court.
Serving as hosts for the first time in the women’s tournament, the third-seeded Hoosiers (23-8) used a 22-2 run across a nearly six-minute, first-half stretch to blow the game open.
The 6-foot-3 junior forward and second-team All-Big Ten selection made 9 of 15 shots to help IU shoot 54.7%. She also grabbed eight rebounds. Grace Berger added 18 points.
Octavia Jett-Wilson’s 19 points led the 49ers (22-9), who shot 37%.
Indiana plays Princeton in the second round.
PRINCETON 69, KENTUCKY 62
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Abby Meyers had career-high 29 points to lead No. 11-seed Princeton to its second-ever NCAA Tournament win, beating sixth-seeded Kentucky.
Kaitlyn Chen added 17 points for the Tigers (25-4), who have won 18 straight and never trailed after the first quarter.
Three-time All-American Rhyne had 17 points to lead the Wildcats (19-12), who entered the tournament winners of 10 straight, the last three against teams ranked in the AP Top 25.
Dre’una Edwards added 16 points and 12 rebounds, but the redshirt junior made just 6 of 15 shots as Kentucky shot just 35.7%.
NOTRE DAME 89, MASSACHUSETTS 78
NORMAN, Okla. — Olivia Miles had a triple-double help No. 5 seed Notre Dame over No. 12 seed Massachusetts.
Miles had 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists for the 18th triple-double in an women’s tournament game and the 10th in school history.
Maddy Westbeld scored 19 points and Maya Dodson and Dara Mabrey each added 18 for the Fighting Irish (23-8), who will play No. 4 seed Oklahoma or No. 13 seed IUPUI on Monday in the second round.
Sam Breen, the Atlantic 10 Player of the Year, matched her career high with 31 points for UMass (26-7).
OKLAHOMA 78, IUPUI 72
NORMAN, Okla. — Taylor Robertson scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half to help Oklahoma beat IUPUI.
Madi Williams added 21 points for the Sooners (25-8), who got a tournament win for first-year coach Jennie Baranczyk. Oklahoma will host Notre Dame in a second-round game on Monday. Notre Dame defeated Massachusetts 89-78 earlier in the evening.
Rachel McLimore scored 18 points for IUPUI. Macee Williams, the four-time Horizon League Player of the Year, had 17 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Jaguars (24-7), who played in their first-ever tournament game.
VILLANOVA 61, BYU 57
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Maddy Siegrist scored 25 points as 11th-seeded Villanova rallied to beat No. 6 seed BYU.
Kaitlyn Oriehl added 10 points and Lucy Olsen had nine for the Wildcats, who finished second in the Big East.
Paisley Harding scored 21 points for BYU with Teagan Graham adding 11. Shaylee Gonzales was held to eight points, missing 11 of her 14 shots.
MICHIGAN 74, AMERICAN 39
ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Naz Hillmon had 24 points and 11 rebounds to help third-seeded Michigan beat No. 14 seed American.
Emily Kiser added 13 points and Leigha Brown had 11 for the Wolverines, who will face No. 11 seed Villanova on Monday in the second round.
American led 8-4 early before Hillmon and the Wolverines got going. Michigan scored 48 of its 74 points in the paint with Hilmon anchoring the interior offense. The Wolverines took the lead with just under two minutes left in the first quarter and never relinquished it, leading by as many as 39.
Lauren Stack finished with 10 points for Patriot League champion American.
TENNESSEE 80, BUFFALO 67
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Alexus Dye scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as fourth-seeded Tennessee held off No. 13 seed Buffalo to remain perfect in the NCAA Tournament on their own floor.
Tennessee (24-8) improved to 24-0 in the first round at home
Senior Rae Burrell scored 15 points after halftime, including nine in the third quarter helping Tennessee to a 57-51 lead going into the final quarter. The Lady Vols sealed the victory, outscoring Buffalo 12-3 to open the fourth.
Tamari Key finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds and Burrell finished with 19 points.
Bulls junior guard Dyaisha Fair, the nation’s fourth-leading scorer, topped her scoring average with 25 points.
BELMONT 73, OREGON 70
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Destinee Wells knocked down a pair of free throws with 1:02 left in double overtime, and the Belmont Bruins knocked off No. 5 seed Oregon (20-12) for their second straight win as a 12 seed to open an NCAA Tournament.
Belmont (23-7) upset 14th-ranked Gonzaga in the Texas bubble last year in the women’s NCAA Tournament. With plenty of Lady Vols fans hanging around to cheer a fellow Tennessee school, the Bruins won their 13th straight and 19th in their last 21 games overall.
They will play fourth-seeded Tennesseon Monday in the second round.
This was the first double-overtime game in the NCAA Tournament since Dayton and St John’s in the first round in 2013. This was a thriller from start to finish with 10 ties and Wells’ go-ahead free throws was the seventh lead change and the only time Belmont led in the second overtime.
OHIO STATE 63, MISSOURI STATE 56
BATON ROUGE, La. — Jacy Sheldon had 25 points and five steals, and No. 6 seed Ohio State overcame an early double-digit deficit to beat 11th seed Missouri State.
Sheldon also made 10 of 12 free throws for the Buckeyes (24-6), who didn’t take the lead for good until Taylor Mikesell made a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 54-52 with 3:10 left.
Missouri State (25-8) got as close as 58-56 with 41 seconds left on a Brice Calip putback. But Sheldon responded with a layup and two free throws to help seal the victory for the Buckeyes.
Mikesell finished with 14 points for Ohio State, which will play LSU in the second round.
Brice Calip scored 15 points, Ifunanya Nwachukwu grabbed 17 rebounds and Abigayle Jackson scored 11 points for Missouri State.
LSU 83, JACKSON STATE 77
BATON ROUGE, La. — Khayla Pointer capped a 26-point performance with a tie-breaking 3-pointer in the final minute as No. 3 seed LSU rallied from 10 points down in the final 4:42 to outlast 14th seed Jackson State.
Jailin Cherry scored 24 for LSU (26-5), hitting several key baskets during a stirring comeback that halted Jackson State’s winning streak at 21 and prevented what was nearly the first victory by a No. 14 seed or a Southwestern Athletic Conference team in a women’s NCAA Tournament.
Faustine Aifuwa had 17 points and 14 rebounds for LSU, which made six of its last eight shots after having missed 15 of 18 right before its final, game-flipping flourish.
Miya Crump scored 21 points for Jackson State (23-7), which erased a 17-point deficit in the third quarter. Ameshya Williams-Holliday added 15 points and 12 rebounds for Jackson State, which tied the game at 77 when Daja Woodard put back Keshuna Luckett’s missed free throw with 1:10 to go.
ARIZONA 72, UNLV 67
TUCSON, Ariz. — Shaina Pellington scored 30 points, Cate Reese added 16 and Arizona outlasted UNLV.
The Wildcats (21-7) were jittery early in their first home NCAA Tournament game since 1998, when coach Adia Barnes was still playing. Arizona bounced back after Barnes went deep into her bench — 11 players in the first half — but had a hard time shaking UNLV.
The No. 4 seed in the Greensboro Region, Arizona finally pulled away behind Pellington and Reese, who combined for 22 of the Wildcats’ 24 fourth-quarter points. Arizona moves on to face North Carolina in Monday’s second round.
The 13th-seeded Lady Rebels (26-7) didn’t flinch in their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2002, drowning out the crowd noise to go right at last year’s national runner-up.
NORTH CAROLINA 79, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 66
TUSCON, Ariz. — Deja Kelly scored 28 points, Kennedy Todd-Williams added 15 and North Carolina pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Stephen F. Austin.
The Tar Heels (24-6), the No. 5 seed in the Greensboro Region, struggled with turnovers and defensive rebounding while falling into an early 10-point hole. But they dominated the fourth quarter, hitting 7 of 13 shots and using a 10-0 run to build an 11-point lead after trailing most of the afternoon.
The Tar Heels, who were ranked 17th in the final Associated Press poll, move on to face either Arizona or UNLV in the second round on Monday.
Zya Nugent scored 26 points for No. 12 seed Stephen F. Austin (28-5), which was eyeing another in a string of lower-seed wins in this year’s bracket. The Ladyjacks led by 10 midway through the second quarter and were still up heading into the fourth.
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