Sunday March 20th, 2016

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The 2016 NCAA women’s tournament continued with 16 first-round games on Saturday. Here are five thoughts from the second day of the women’s bracket.

1. UConn leaves no doubt as Stewart sets record

To nobody’s surprise, No. 1 UConn made quick work of No. 16 Robert Morris in the first round, dismantling the Colonials 101–49 with a balanced attack that saw six Huskies score in double figures. Notching a season-high 41 points in the first quarter, the Huskies led by 37 after the opening 10 minutes, 49 at halftime and 61 after three quarters, leaving no doubt that they mean business in their quest for a fourth straight title.

Women's College Basketball
Future UConn legend Breanna Stewart in midst of best season yet

Three-time reigning Final Four Most Outstanding Player Breanna Stewart continued her hot streak in the NCAA tournament, posting 18 points, eight steals, five rebounds, four assists and three blocks in just 20 minutes of play. With her three rejections, Stewart upped her four-year total to 397 and surpassed former UConn-great Rebecca Lobo to become the program’s leader in blocks. Freshman Katie Lou Samuelson continued her hot long-range shooting this season, recording a game-high 22 points in her first NCAA tournament appearance. 

The rout marked the Huskies’ 70th consecutive win, which is tied for the second-longest streak in team and women’s Division I history.

2. Duquesne wins in NCAA tournament debut

After a 27–5 season that earned No. 9 Duquesne its first NCAA tournament bid in program history, the Dukes utilized an impressive shooting effort to eliminate No. 8 Seton Hall. In the 97–76 victory in Storrs, Conn., Duquesne shot 49% from the floor and 43% beyond the arc, while registering 19 assists against the Pirates.

Atlantic 10 Conference Sixth Woman of the Year, Deva’Nyar Workman, picked an opportune time to score a career-best 25 points. The senior added a game-high 12 rebounds, while freshman Kadri-Ann Lass contributed 20 points in her NCAA tournament debut.

College Basketball
Ten observations on this year’s NCAA women’s tournament

Duquesne was serenaded by chants of “We want UConn” from its fans in the final moments of the opening round contest at Gampel Pavilion.

“No one’s going to give us a chance [against UConn], and that’s fine,” coach Dan Burt told reporters after the win. “The only people that give us a chance are the people in that locker room.”

The Dukes face the Huskies on Monday in the second round.

3. Another No. 12 seed upsets a No. 5 seed in as many days

Just one day after No. 12 Albany defeated No. 5 Florida 61–59, another No. 12 seed outlasted a five-seed in the opening round, with South Dakota State taking down Miami (Fla.) 74–71.

The Jackrabbits, who have appeared in the Big Dance in seven of the past eight seasons, had not previously advanced to the second round since 2009, when they defeated TCU. Despite 22 turnovers, South Dakota State survived and advanced thanks to considerable contributions from Madison Guebert, Macy Miller and Ellie Thompson, who dropped 19, 18 and 14 points, respectively.

The Hurricanes, the No. 19 team in the country, made the furthest trek of any squad in the tournament, traveling more than 2,577 miles to the host site at Stanford.

4. Freshman Anriel Howard shines for the Aggies​

Freshman Anriel Howard made the most significant contribution of her young college career in No. 4 Texas A&M’s 74–65 victory over No. 13 Missouri State. The 5’11” forward, who averages a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game and had a previous career-high of 14, set an NCAA tournament record with 27 boards on Saturday. Howard’s mark surpassed the prior record of 23 held by Tennessee Tech’s Cheryl Taylor and North Carolina’s Charlotte Smith.

Howard’s performance was only arguably outdone by that of senior Courtney Walker, who netted 29 points, falling one short of tying Danielle Adams’s record for most points by an Aggie in an NCAA tournament game. Walker will enter Monday’s second-round matchup against No. 5 Florida State ranking second all-time at Texas A&M with 1,971 career points, just six shy of Takia Starks’s career record of 1,977.

The clutch play by Howard and Walker came on the heels of the suspension of Aggie senior starter and team captain Courtney Williams, as well as junior Shlonte Allen, who were suspended indefinitely for violating team rules before Saturday’s game in College Station. The duo remain eligible to practice with the team during their suspensions.

5. Azzi falls in Stanford homecoming

University of San Francisco coach Jennifer Azzi ​didn’t get the homecoming at her alma mater Stanford that she would have liked on Saturday. The No. 13 seed Dons, the West Coast Conference champions, were outlasted by the No. 4 Cardinal 85–58 at Maples Pavilion.

Azzi, who took to San Francisco’s helm in 2010, won a national championship at Stanford with Cardinal coach Tara VanDerveer in 1990, as well as an Olympic gold medal under VanDerveer’s tutelage in 1996. The player-turned-coach is widely regarded as one of the best players in Stanford history, capturing the Wade Trophy and Naismith Award in 1990. After winning nine games in her first two seasons at San Francisco combined, Azzi took the Dons to their first NCAA tournament since 1997.

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