Bria Hartley and the Connecticut Huskies nearly played a flawless defensive game in a record rout of Kansas State.
Hartley scored 13 of her 16 points in the first half and top-seeded UConn set a women’s NCAA Tournament record for fewest points allowed in a 72-26 victory Monday night in Bridgeport, Conn.
“I think it was definitely close to a perfect game - you can always do better,’’ Hartley said. “We came out with a lot more intensity than we did last game. We used that game as motivation to play better this game.’’
The Huskies (31-4) limited Kansas State to 18 percent shooting and 10 field goals, contesting virtually every shot in their second-round matchup.
“Defense is what we take pride in here,’’ said Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, who added 15 points. “I feel like we have a lot of good offensive players, but it doesn’t really take heart to play offense. All defense is is a lot of heart and a lot of effort and I think we put out a lot of heart and a lot of effort tonight on defense.’’
UConn, which will play the winner of Penn State and LSU in Kingston, R.I., Sunday in the regional semifinals, advanced to the Sweet 16 for the 19th straight season.
Eighth-seeded Kansas State (20-14) was trying to make it that far for the first time since 2002. But the Wildcats were no match for the Huskies, unable to surpass the 27 points that Southern scored against Duke in 2006, the previous record.
“When you play a great team and compete as ineptly as we did tonight, you end up on the bad side of a big deficit,’’ Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “I’m proud of the team for our season, disappointed in the end result.’’
Brittany Chambers scored 11 points to lead the Wildcats, who went 11 minutes in the first half without a point.
After taking a 3-2 lead 34 seconds in, the Wildcats missed 18 straight shots over the next 11:17. By the time Jalana Childs put back a miss, they trailed, 19-5, with 8:09 left. They could never recover.
The Huskies led, 38-10, at halftime, as the Wildcats missed 27 of their 31 shots.
A pull-up jumper from the free throw line by Chambers just before halftime helped Kansas State avoid tying Prairie View for the lowest-scoring first half in the history of the NCAA Tournament. The 16th-seeded Lady Panthers did that last season against Brittney Griner and top-seeded Baylor.
Stanford 72, West Virginia 55 - In Norfolk, Va., Amber Orrange scored a career-high 18 points and the Cardinal beat the Mountaineers, 72-55.
Nnemkadi Ogwumike added 16 points and sister Chiney Ogwumike finished with 13 despite both being in foul trouble for top-seeded Stanford (33-1), which easily stretched its school-record winning streak to 30 games. Orrange added seven assists.
Stanford advances to the regional semifinals in Fresno, Calif., where it will face South Carolina Saturday.
Ayana Dunning led the Mountaineers (24-10) with 14 points and Asya Buassie had 11, but West Virginia shot just 31 percent.
The Cardinal were leading, 16-12, when Nnemkadi Ogwumike’s two free throws sparked a 17-0 run. West Virginia went more than six minutes without scoring and trailed, 33-14, when Dunning finally broke the drought with a 15-foot jumper.
South Carolina 72, Purdue 61 - Markeshia Grant scored 21 points, Ieasia Walker added 17, and the fifth-seeded Gamecocks (25-9) beat the No. 4-seeded Boilermakers in West Lafayette, Ind.
Brittany Rayburn scored 13 in her final game at Purdue (25-9). She finished her career with 1,795 points, good for No. 6 in school history. KK Houser led the Boilermakers with 15.
It was a milestone victory for South Carolina and coach Dawn Staley, who returns to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1992, her senior season at Virginia.
Maryland 72, Louisville 68 - Laurin Mincy and Tianna Hawkins provided the Terrapins with the push they needed to avoid another agonizing exit from the NCAA Tournament.
Mincy scored 24 points, Hawkins had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Maryland squeezed past Louisville in College Park, Md., to advance to the Sweet 16.
On a night in which Maryland star Alyssa Thomas finished with 6 points on 3-for-10 shooting, Mincy and Hawkins picked up the slack. Hawkins finished 1 point short of matching her career high, and Hawkins scored 6 points in the Terrapins’ game-ending 13-4 run.
Maryland (30-4) will face the winner of the Monday night’s late game between defending champion Texas A&M and Arkansas.
Shoni Schimmel scored 22 and Shawnta Dyer had 17 for Louisville (23-10).