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NCAA women's basketball notebook

Notre Dame women crush Oklahoma, 108-64, to advance to Sweet 16

With a season-high 29 points Notre Dame guard Dara Mabrey led the Irish past Oklahoma, 108-64, in a second-round game in Norman, Okla.Mitch Alcala/Associated Press

Dara Mabrey scored a season-high 29 points, and No. 5 seed Notre Dame rolled past No. 4 Oklahoma, 108-64, in Norman, Okla., to earn a spot in the women’s Sweet 16.

Mabrey made 11 of 19 field goals, including seven 3-pointers. Sonia Citron scored 25 points, and Maya Dodson added 20 for Notre Dame (24-8). According to Stats by STATS, Notre Dame became the first team, men’s or women’s, to beat a higher-seeded team by at least 40 points.

It’s the first Sweet 16 berth for second-year Notre Dame coach Niele Ivey, The Fighting Irish will play No. 1 seed North Carolina State on Saturday in a Bridgeport Regional semifinal.


Taylor Robertson scored 19 points for Oklahoma (25-9). Skylar Vann had 11 points and nine rebounds and Liz Scott had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Sooners. Oklahoma committed 28 turnovers and shot just 32.3 percent from the floor.

Notre Dame led, 13-7, before Mabrey scored 12 straight to push the Fighting Irish lead to 18. She banked in her last 3 points during the run to put Notre Dame ahead, 25-7.

Mabrey finished with 17 points and made 5 of 6 3-pointers in the first quarter. The Fighting Irish shot 56.5 percent in the opening period to lead, 35-12, heading into the second.

Notre Dame led, 60-25, at halftime. It was the most points the Fighting Irish have ever scored in a half in a tournament game. Mabrey scored 19 points and Citron had 17 before the break. Robertson scored 15 in the first half for Oklahoma, but the rest of the Sooners scored 10 points on 4-for-27 shooting. The Sooners shot 24.2 percent before the break.

Notre Dame led, 85-47, heading into the fourth quarter. The Fighting Irish hit the 100-point mark on a fast break layup by Dodson with just over four minutes remaining.


North Carolina State takes lopsided victory over Kansas State

Kayla Jones scored 18 points to help top-seeded North Carolina State beat Kansas State, 89-57, in Raleigh, N.C., in Monday’s second round of the NCAA Tournament, earning a fourth straight trip to the Sweet 16.

Raina Perez and Diamond Johnson each added 15 points for the Wolfpack (31-3), who won their 12th straight game behind a dominating second-quarter performance. N.C. State shot 55 percent and made 9 of 19 3-pointers, romping to a lopsided win in front of a loud Reynolds Coliseum crowd for the final time this season.

By the end, all 13 players who entered the game for N.C. State had scored. And that sent N.C. State to next week’s regional semifinal against the Notre Dame-Oklahoma winner.

The matchup of Associated Press second-team All-Americans Elissa Cunane of the Wolfpack and Ayoka Lee of the Wildcats never truly materialized due to foul issues. But the Bridgeport Region’s headliner instead showed off its deep roster by getting production off the bench and continuing to roll anyway.

The 6-foot-5-inch Cunane headed to the bench less than 3 ½ minutes into the game with her second foul and didn’t play again before the break, finishing with 4 points in points in 13 minutes.

The 6-6 Lee needed a little longer to get her second before also taking a seat early at the end of the period. She finished with 12 points, well below her season average of 22.3, despite playing 31 minutes.

Camille Hobby provided a tough performance off the bench in relief of Cunane, scoring 8 first-half points while avoiding picking up cheap fouls defending Lee. And that helped the Wolfpack stay on course, leading to a 12-0 burst that began with Lee on the bench.


N.C. State ran out to a 31-15 lead on Johnson’s transition 3-pointer followed by Perez’s jumper with 5:29 left before halftime, while Kansas State managed just one basket during a 10-minute stretch. That lead reached 20 before halftime and the ninth-seeded Wildcats never got closer than 13 in the second half.

Freshman Serena Sundell scored 17 points to lead Kansas State, which was trying to reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002. But the Wildcats shot just 39 percent and made 7 of 25 3-pointers.

Jacy Sheldon keeps Ohio State on track against LSU

Jacy Sheldon had 23 points, 8 assists, and 3 steals, and sixth seed Ohio State beat No. 3 seed LSU, 79-64, in Baton Rouge, La., in the second roundt.

“You never saw her at any point where she wasn’t poised,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said of Sheldon. “That was the key for our ability to finish out the game, was Jacy’s poise, keeping us organized, running the team, finishing shots around the basket when we needed them down the stretch.”

Taylor Mikesell scored 18 and Rebeka Mikulasikova had 12 points for the Buckeyes (25-6), who responded to a large, loud and hostile crowd in the Tigers’ home arena by seizing momentum in the opening quarter and putting LSU in the deepest deficit it had faced all season at 24 points late in the third quarter.


Late 3-pointer lifts Tennessee over Belmont

Sara Puckett hit a 3-pointer with 17.5 seconds left to put Tennessee ahead to stay as the fourth-seeded Lady Vols held off neighbor Belmont, 70-67, in Knoxville, Tenn., to advance to their first Sweet 16 since 2016.

The Lady Vols (25-8) improved to 23-1 on their home floor in the second round. They earned the program’s 29th Sweet 16 berth and will meet top-seeded Louisville on Saturday in the regional semifinal in Wichita, Kansas.

Tennessee had to scrap for this win after blowing a 14-point lead in the third quarter to lead only 48-46 going into the final quarter. The Lady Vols scored the first 4 of the final quarter for a 52-46 lead.

The Bruins went up, 61-60, on Madison Bartley’s layup with 4:07 left. Tennessee tied it at 64 on a jumper by Alexus Dye with 2:39 left. Bartley put Belmont ahead, 66-64, with another layup with 2:23 remaining.

Jamilyn Kinney, who attempted only seven free throws all season, missed both tries with 25.7 seconds left. After a Tennessee timeout, the Lady Vols got the ball to Puckett in the left corner, and she hit nothing but net.

Tamari Key hit three of four free throws for Tennessee inside the final 10 seconds. Bruins guard Tuti Jones hit her first free throw with 3.8 seconds remaining, missed the second. Destinee Wells had a final chance to force overtime, but her long 3 hit off the backboard above the rim before the buzzer.


Alexus Dye led Tennessee with 20 points and 11 rebounds, her fourth straight double-double. Key finished with 18 points, and Puckett had 12 with the clinching 3 her only 3-point attempt of the game.

Naz Hillmon sparks Michigan victory

Naz Hillmon had 27 points, 11 rebound, and 6 steals to help third-seeded Michigan pull away and beat No. 11 Villanova, 64-49, in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich.

The Wolverines (24-6) earned a second straight trip to the Sweet 16 and will face 10th-seeded South Dakota on Saturday in the Wichita Region.

Michigan took control with a 10-0 run over the end of the third quarter and start of the fourth, turning what was a closely contested game into a lopsided victory. Leigha Brown, who has recovered from a leg injury, had 20 points for the Wolverines.

The Wildcats (24-9) led by 3 points after the opening quarter, but they simply could not stop Hillmon.

Villanova also struggled to overcome Maddy Siegrist being held to single digits for just the sixth time this season. Siegrist, who ranked second in the nation with 25.8 points per game, had 12 points on 5 of 13 shooting. The junior forward had fewer points just twice this season in November.

The Wildcats’ only other player in double figures was Lior Gazon, who had 11 points.

Home court was an advantage for the Wolverines, whose fans filled the lower level of Crisler Arena and spilled into many upper-deck sections.

They were very loud as Michigan scored the last 6 points of the third quarter, taking a 48-40 lead. Hillmon scored off an offensive rebound to open the fourth, giving her 25 points and 10 rebounds at that point, and she got on the floor moments later for her fifth steal.

Indiana edges Princeton

Grace Berger scored the last of her 15 points on a spinning, tiebreaking layup with 28.2 seconds left and Nicole Cardano-Hillary added 12 points to help third-seeded Indiana beat 11th-seed Princeton, 56-55, in Bloomington, Ind., and reach its second straight Sweet 16.

Ali Patberg sealed the win in her home finale with a steal with 3.8 seconds left and Aleksa Gulbe closed it out with two free throws.

The Hoosiers (24-8) have won five of their last six and swept the first two NCAA Tournament games they’ve ever hosted — in front of a loud, large crowd. Indiana also has tied its single-season school record for wins.

The Hoosiers advanced on a night Princeton (25-5) was trying to post a tourney record ninth victory by a double-digit seed. Instead, the Tigers had their 18-game winning streak snapped while shooting 32.8 percent from the field and three of its top players got into early foul trouble.

Julia Cunningham and Grace Stone each scored 13 to lead Princeton. Ivy League player of the year Abby Meyers had 11 points, going just 3 of 14 from the field and missing her first six 3-point attempts before making her last as the buzzer sounded.

Shauna Green named coach at Illinois

Illinois hired Shauna Green as its women’s basketball coach, hoping she can lift a struggling program following a winning tenure at Dayton.

Green was chosen Atlantic 10 Coach of the Year three times while leading Dayton to five conference regular-season championships and a 127-50 record over six years. The Flyers went 26-6 this season, finishing first in the league in the regular season and beating DePaul in the NCAA Tournament before losing to Georgia.

“I truly believe the time is now for the program and we will work tirelessly to build it into a championship program,” Green said in a statement.

Green is 156-75 in eight seasons as a head coach, including two at Loras College in Dubuque, Iowa. She has also been an assistant at Dayton, Northwestern, and Providence.

Virginia hires Amaka Agugua-Hamilton

Virginia named Amaka “Mox” Agugua-Hamilton, the women’s coach at Missouri State the past three seasons, as its basketball coach.

Agugua-Hamilton replaces Tina Thompson, who was fired on March 3 after her fourth season.

Agugua-Hamilton compiled a 74-15 record with the Lady Bears, who won Missouri Valley Conference regular-season titles in 2020 and 2021 and competed in the past two NCAA Tournaments. Missouri State had a 26-4 record in Agugua-Hamilton’s first year as coach, when the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.