Ionescu triple-double dominates day 1 of women's tournament

Friday, 16 March 2018 22:04 Written by  Read 7 times
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Oregon's Sabrina Ionescu worked her triple-double magic, No. 1 seeds Louisville and Notre Dame rolled to victories, No. 10 seeds Virginia and Minnesota pulled off upsets, and defending champion South Carolina got a too-close-for-comfort victory.

That was opening day of the women's NCAA tournament, and 16 games are in the books. Chalk dominated but was disrupted three times, with Virginia's 68-62 victory over No. 7 Cal (without Kristine Anigwe, who wasn't medically cleared to play), Minnesota's 89-77 win over No. 7 Green Bay, and No. 9 Villanova's 3-point-fueled 81-74 overtime victory against No. 8 South Dakota State.

Guards sort of stole the show on Friday, led by Ionescu. The sophomore got her sixth triple-double this season -- and NCAA-record 10th of her career -- with 19 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists in the No. 2 seed Ducks' 88-45 victory over No. 15 Seattle. It was the 15th triple-double in NCAA tournament history; the last was in 2015 by Iowa's Samantha Logic.

A player whom Oregon coach Kelly Graves has compared Ionescu to -- former Stanford star Nicole Powell -- is the only one with two triple-doubles in the NCAA tournament. You have the feeling that Ionescu will top that, too. Maybe even in this tournament; Oregon faces Minnesota in the second round Sunday.

Other standout guard performances included Marquette's Natisha Hiedeman (32 points, five assists, five steals) in the No. 8 seed Golden Eagles' 84-65 victory over No. 9 Dayton, and Texas A&M's Chenney Carter (26 points, 11 assists) in the No. 4 seed Aggies' 89-76 victory over No. 13 Drake.

Lexington Regional top seed Louisville opened the day's action by cruising 74-42 against No. 16 seed Boise State as the Cardinals' bench players and role players led the way on a day that ACC player of the year Asia Durr struggled (4-of-14, nine points).

Spokane Regonal No. 1 Notre Dame beat No. 16 Cal State Northridge 99-81 but had yet another injury as senior post player Kathryn Westbeld rolled her ankle and is not expected to play Sunday against Villanova.

Baylor sophomore Lauren Cox had 17 rebounds and a career-high 30 points. Frontcourt mate Kalani Brown added 22 points and 15 rebounds. AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez

Meanwhile, in the paint ...

The guards weren't the only ones piling up big numbers. Baylor's dynamic posts Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox both got double-doubles as the No. 2 seed Lady Bears pounded No. 15 Grambling 96-46.

Cox's intensity level seemed to shoot up during the Big 12 tournament after Baylor lost its chief energy provider, point guard Kristy Wallace, to a knee injury in the regular-season finale. Cox kept it going Friday, finishing with 30 points, 17 rebounds and five assists.

Brown -- the Big 12 player of the year -- had 22 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks. Almost joining them with a double-double was the other starting post, Dekeiya Cohen, with 17 points and nine rebounds. The Lady Bears take on No. 7 seed Michigan in the second round.

Meanwhile, Oregon State center Marie Gulich had 29 points on 11-of-15 shooting with 15 rebounds in the No. 6 Beavers' 82-58 victory over No. 11 Western Kentucky. Oregon State will take on No. 3 Tennessee in what could be one of Sunday's best second-round games.

Marquette junior guard Natisha Hiedeman scored a career-high 32 points, including 18 in the first quarter. Timothy D. Easley/AP Photo

Player of the day

Talk about being ready from tip-off ... Marquette's Hiedeman topped her season average of 13.5 in the first quarter Friday, as she had 18 of her career-high 32 points.

She hit eight 3-pointers and also had five assists and five steals in the Golden Eagles' victory over Dayton.

Next up for Marquette is No. 1 Louisville.

Remembering Harvard

The historic upset Friday in the men's tournament, No. 16 UMBC over No. 1 Virginia, brings back memories of the one time a No. 16 seed won in the women's tournament. In 1998, Harvard beat Stanford on the Cardinal's home court 71-67. Stanford had lost starters Vanessa Nygaard and Kristin Folkl to ACL injuries days before that game, and then the Cardinal were outplayed by the Crimson.

Relive Harvard's win with espnW's oral history.


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