Kansas State’s Branshea Brown picked a good day to have a career game.
The senior forward scored a career-high 22 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead the Wildcats past Princeton, 67-64, Saturday in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament at Bridgeport, Conn.
“As far as I’m concerned, numbers aside, she was the game-changer,’’ Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “She boarded the ball early in the game for us. She defended well early for us.’’
Jalana Childs added 15 points for Kansas State (20-13). The eighth seed will play Connecticut in the second round of the Kingston Regional.
Niveen Rasheed had 20 points, and Lauren Edwards and Devona Allgood each had 15 for Princeton (24-5). The Tigers lost for the first time in 18 games and for the third consecutive year in the first round of the tournament.
The win is the first in the tournament for Kansas State since 2009. The Wildcats have not advanced past the second round since 2004.
K-State led by 4 at halftime, but Princeton started the second half on a 10-2 run. A 3-point play by Allgood and a layup by Rasheed gave the Tigers a 37-33 lead and forced a K-State timeout.
The Wildcats quickly regrouped. A layup by Brown capped a 14-4 run over the next five minutes and gave Kansas State a 49-43 lead and they pushed that advantage to 8.
Edwards brought the Tigers back to 53-52 on a 3-pointer, but the Wildcats held them off, going to Brown in the paint for key buckets down the stretch.
Gonzaga 86, Rutgers 73 - Kayla Standish scored 23 points and Haiden Palmer added 21 as the 11th-seeded Bulldogs (27-5) rolled over the Scarlet Knights (22-10) before a big home crowd in Spokane, Wash.
Erica Wheeler scored 28 points for Rutgers, which shot 29 percent in the first half to fall behind.
Gonzaga got 14 points from Taelor Karr and 13 points and 10 rebounds from Kelly Bowen. The Bulldogs were 9 of 19 from 3-point range to keep Rutgers at bay in the second half.
Coach C. Vivian Stringer is now 11-3 in NCAA opening-round games with Rutgers.
Kentucky 68, McNeese State 62 - Keyla Snowden scored 11 points, Azia Bishop added 10, and the second-seeded Wildcats (26-6) squeaked by the Cowgirls (26-8) at Ames, Iowa.
SEC Player of the Year A’dia Mathies had just 6 points for the Wildcats, who struggled to put away the upset-minded Cowgirls until late in the second half.
McNeese State got within 63-57 on two free throws by Martika Hull with 40 seconds left, but the Cowgirls couldn’t get any closer.
Miami 70, Idaho State 41 - Shenise Johnson scored 20 points and added four assists as the Hurricanes (26-5) routed the Bengals (24-8) in Spokane.
Miami played without All-WCC guard Riquna Williams, who did not make the trip for an unspecified team violation. But it didn’t make much difference as the Hurricanes were significantly taller and faster than Idaho State and dominated from the start.
Green Bay 71, Iowa State 57 - Lydia Bauer and Sarah Eichler each scored 16 points and the seventh-seeded Phoenix (31-1) rolled over the Cyclones (18-13) in Ames.
Adrian Ritchie added 15 for the Phoenix, who’ll take on second-seeded Kentucky in the second round.
Des Moines Regional
Tennessee 72, Tennessee-Martin 49 - Meighan Simmons scored 20 points and the second-seeded Lady Vols (25-8) gave coach Pat Summitt a victory over the school where she played, beating the Skyhawks (23-9) at Rosemont, Ill.
Glory Johnson added 14 points and 12 rebounds as Tennessee pulled away in the second half.
The Lady Vols have vowed to get to the Final Four and win a ninth NCAA title for Summitt, who shook the sport with her announcement in August that she has early onset dementia, Alzheimer’s type. Last week, the icon with the most wins in NCAA history said she wasn’t sure she would coach beyond the season.
DePaul 59, BYU 55 - Anna Martin led a balanced attack with 17 points as the seventh-seeded Blue Demons (23-10) held off a late rally by the Cougars (26-7) to claim the victory in Rosemont.
BYU fought back from a late 8-point deficit and had a chance to tie with 2.8 seconds to play. But Haley Steed’s 3-point try missed and DePaul got the rebound.
West Virginia 68, Texas 55 - Taylor Palmer scored 13 of her 18 points in the second half and the eighth-seeded Mountaineers (24-9) held on after squandering most of a 15-point lead to beat the Longhorns (18-14) at Norfolk, Va.
The Mountaineers led, 48-33, with 10 minutes to play, then saw the Longhorns close within 51-48 with 5 1/2 minutes left. But after West Virginia went nearly five minutes without a basket, Palmer swished a 3-pointer from the right wing.
Stanford 73, Hampton 51 - Nnemkadi Ogwumike scored 22 of her 28 points in the first half and the top-seeded Cardinal (32-1) pulled away before halftime, rolling over the Pirates (26-5) at Norfolk.
Joslyn Tinkle added 16 points as the Cardinal extended their school-record winning streak to 29. Stanford will face West Virginia in the second round.
South Carolina 80, Eastern Michigan 48 - The fifth-seeded Gamecocks closed the first half on a 14-2 run, opened the second half on a 9-3 spurt, and routed the Eagles (23-9) at West Lafayette, Ind.
Markeshia Grant scored 12 points to lead South Carolina, which is a victory from tying the school’s season record. Charenee Stephens had 11 points and Ashley Bruner finished with 10 points off the bench in the Gamecocks’ first NCAA Tournament game since 2003.
The Eagles’ Tavelyn James, the nation’s second-leading scorer, was limited to 11 points, 13 below her season average.
Purdue 83, South Dakota State 68 - Courtney Moses set a tournament record by making nine 3-pointers, tied her career high with 29 points, and led the host Boilermakers (25-8) past the pesky Jackrabbits (24-9).
Moses was 9 of 14 from beyond the arc, 10 of 17 overall, and seemed to hit all the big shots the Boilermakers needed to advance.
Brittany Rayburn and KK Houser each finished with 12 for the Big Ten tournament champions, who are on a six-game winning streak.
Maryland 59, Navy 44 - Alyssa Thomas had 17 points and 10 rebounds, and the Terrapins (29-4) used a strong second half to beat the 15th-seeded Midshipmen (18-14) at College Park, Md.
Thomas, a 6-foot-2-inch sophomore, scored 12 points in the second half on 5-for-7 shooting. Along the way, she became the 27th player in program history to break the 1,000-point mark.
The Terrapins led, 31-23, before Thomas fueled a 14-4 run at the outset of the second half to up the margin to 15. Minutes later, she scored 6 points in an 8-0 spree that made it 57-36 with 6:30 to go.
Louisville 67, Michigan State 55 - Becky Burke scored 14 points, Shawnta’ Dyer had 13, and Asia Taylor and Bria Smith 10 apiece as the seventh-seeded Cardinals (23-9) rattled the Spartans (20-12) with speed and defense at College Park.
The Cardinals forced 14 turnovers and pulled away with a 16-2 run late in the first half. Louisville led, 39-23, at halftime and didn’t allow Michigan State to pull within single digits in the second half.
Arkansas 72, Dayton 55 - Quistelle Williams scored 15 points, Keira Peak and Lyndsay Harris added 14 apiece, and the Razorbacks (24-8) rallied from an early double-digit deficit to defeat the Flyers (23-7) at College Station, Texas.
C’eira Ricketts had 13 points and five assists for the Razorbacks, who finished the game with a 20-2 run after trailing by as many as 14 in the first half.
Texas A&M 69, Albany 47 - Tyra White scored 18 points in her return from a foot injury and the defending national champion Aggies (23-10) used a big second-half run to pull away from the America East champion Great Danes (23-10) in College Station.
The Great Danes scored six straight points to tie it early in the second half before A&M used a 17-4 run to take a 49-36 lead with 13 minutes remaining.