some agita involved!
Cherry added her name into Tar Heels lore Monday with the game-winning basket with 0.6 seconds left, as No. 4 seed North Carolina survived a rally against No. 5 seed Ohio State 86-84.
“I just try to get to the open space as fast as I can,” Cherry said of her philosophy on launching a last-second shot. “I’m just glad I was able to hit it and go to the Sweet 16. Just hearing my teammates talk about doing that last year, I wanted to do it, too.”
She will, and it’s worth noting that the Tar Heels have made it to the regional semifinals without Diamond DeShields, who was their leading scorer last season as a freshman.
“You guys like the movie ‘Elf’?” ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said before humming a tune from the Will Ferrell comedy, in which a man raised as an elf leads regular folk to believe in Santa Claus once again. “I think our fans believed, we believed.”
End result: The Sun Devils are going to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2009, but the Sun Belt should be proud.
“I’m very proud of my teammates and proud of Ka’Nesheia [Cobbins] and Kiera [Clark],” senior Taylor Gault said. “We’re just tough. Ka’Nesheia is just so tough for even being out there because her ankle, and Kiera has given this team so much, and we’re all just so proud of each other. We don’t have anything to hang our heads about because we fought and we never gave up, and I couldn’t ask for better teammates.”
Why does this sound familiar: “Schimmel’s clutch play powers Louisville past USF.” In a battle of physical, feisty foes, it was Jude’s play in the last few minutes that insured the Cardinal’s season continued.
“One of the biggest things Coach Walz said was that he knew this game was going to come down to the wire and would come down to whoever was disciplined enough and execute in the last few minutes of the game,” said Schimmel, who added a team-high six rebounds and five assists. “I was trying to pick and choose when I go hard up until the last four minutes of the game. Then once the four minutes hit, I said, ‘It’s all or nothing right now.'”
Perfection was at stake, but maybe even more significant, more alluring, Princeton had an opportunity to send shock waves through a tournament that rarely registers even a tremble.
It had been six years since a No. 1 seed in the N.C.A.A. women’s bracket had lost before reaching the round of 16. Yet there was mighty Maryland — nestled amid the adoring faithful at its home court, Xfinity Center — looking slightly dumbstruck in the first half against undaunted Princeton.
…but Maryland just had too much Mincy. From Graham:
You know who would have enjoyed watching Maryland and Princeton play?
People in Spokane, which hosts one of the coming week’s regionals. People watching one of the other four games going on at the same time on a busy Monday.
Really, anyone who enjoys watching two really good basketball teams go about their business. Or make that one really good team and one championship contender.
In a moment that was quintessentially Amber Orrange, the Stanford senior guard was celebrating the Cardinal’s 86-76 win over Oklahoma to reach another Sweet 16, closing out her quietly stellar career at Maples Pavilion, when Stanford’s sports information director approached to grab her for the postgame television interview.
Orrange, with a look on her face that indicated she wanted to run in the other direction, acquiesced reluctantly. Maybe she knew somebody had been stationed at the foot of the bleachers near the entrance to the locker room specifically to keep her from escaping.
In four years, Orrange has never sought the spotlight, but it just keeps finding her anyway.
Tired of losing and eager to play for a winner, Pittsburgh guard Brianna Kiesel pondered transferring earlier in her career before deciding to stay and see whether a coaching change could spark a slumping program.
Little did she know she’d have an opportunity to play a game quite like the one that closed her remarkable career.
Kiesel scored 24 of her career-high 32 points in the second half Monday as Pittsburgh made a frantic rally in the closing minutes before falling 77-67 to Tennessee in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Tennessee coach Holly Warlick stopped Brianna Kiesel in the post-game handshake line, hugged her and whispered in her ear.
Warlick’s message was an obvious one after Kiesel scored nearly half of Pitt’s points, but she couldn’t allow the Panthers’ senior point guard to leave college basketball without hearing it.
“She just said I was a good player and I played my heart out,” Kiesel said “That’s all I could [ask for]. I left it all out there.”
With five minutes gone in the second half in the biggest game in FGCU women’s basketball history and the Eagles unable to get a shot to fall, junior guard Kaneisha Atwater flew full speed at the basket and watched her flying runner hit the backboard and roll off the rim as she fell to the floor.
As she got up to get back on defense, Atwater — fearless, tireless, physically and mentally unbreakable all season — slapped the court and let an epithet slip from her lips that was understandable given the situation.
This kind of drought was never going to be good enough against one of the best teams in the country.
Adding insult to injury was another damn injury. Rutgers was already shorthanded when they entered their game against UConn, and then they lost guard Briyona Cantyguard Briyona Canty at the beginning of the second half. Not sure it would have made a difference, but injuries stink.
“I told the team that what we did in the game was pretty impressive,” Auriemma said.
For UConn, so deep and versatile, this was a redemptive night for two of its biggest stars, Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis and Moriah Jefferson, the two who had the smallest offensive impact on Saturday’s first-round rout of St. Francis Brooklyn.
Mosqueda-Lewis had just two points in 16 minutes Saturday, the first time in her career she had been held to single figures in an NCAA Tournament game. Her 23 points on Monday were her NCAA Tournament high.
Charlie had Five Observations From Monday
1. Forget first-half jitters: North Carolina and Oklahoma are young teams. Princeton and UALR have never played in games of this magnitude. Yet nerves were a non-issue for any of them. The Tar Heels, Sooners and Trojans were all relaxed, started quickly and led at the half. Princeton trailed Maryland but played so well it felt like the Tigers were ahead.
In fact, despite trailing 42-38, and considering it was playing on the home floor of a 31-2 No. 1 seed, Princeton might have played its best opening half of the season.
Graham offers up some First impressions on the Sweet 16
You won’t find this road to Tampa, Florida, in any Rand McNally atlas. No two teams travel it quite the same way.
For No. 1 seeds Connecticut, Maryland, Notre Dame and South Carolina, their roads in the first two rounds were mostly free of traffic, the Terrapins and Fighting Irish forced to tap the brake lights a couple of times in the second round but still on schedule.
For some, such as No. 3 seed Arizona State, the road was a white-knuckle uphill climb through a snowstorm with the check engine light on, while for others, such as third-seeded Iowa, it was a drag race down an empty country highway.