The road to Dallas is well and truly underway as the first round of the WNCAAB Women’s Championship is now over after the final batch of games took place on Saturday.
There haven’t been as many upsets as there have been in the men’s tournament as all of the top four seeds are all through to the second round in each region, but there have still been a few surprises.
We’ve taken a look over some of the standout performers from the opening round of 64 before the second-round games begin on Saturday.
South Carolina are the overall 1-seed and they showed their intent in their opening game with a comprehensive 72-40 win over Norfolk State.
The first half was close and USC only held a one-point lead at the midway point, but they showed their class in the second half to record a huge victory.
South Carolina outscored Norfolk State 22-8 in the third quarter and limited the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference winners to just four rebounds.
USC’s passing ability perhaps proved the key difference, however, and freshman Raven Johnson was the main creative force as she finished with a team-high seven assists.
“That’s what we practice,” said Johnson after the game, as reported by The State. “Moving the ball, the ball should find you, you should shoot the ball. That’s what we put our focus on.”
South Carolina are rated at 4/9 To Win the WNCAAB Championship outright.
There were two 12 vs 5 upsets in the first round and Sha Carter played a vital role in helping Florida Gulf Coast overcome Washington State with a huge performance.
The guard led the game in scoring with 24 points with a field goal percentage of 76.9% as the SUN Conference Tournament champions recorded an impressive 74-63 victory.
Tishara Morehouse had 16 points and Maddie Antenucci made a key contribution with 11, including all three of her three-point attempts.
FGCU posted a record of 33–3 (17–1) this season and their performance against Washington State suggests they could be a threat for any team in March. They are rated at 250/1 To Win the WNCAAB Women’s Championship outright.
Women's NCAAB Championship: Schedule, Watch Live & Printable Bracket
The other 12 vs 5 upset came in the Seattle regional 3 as Toledo managed to withstand a brave comeback attempt from Iowa to record an 80-73 victory, in part due to a huge performance and a double-double from captain Quinesha Lockett.
Iowa State made the stronger start and led at the end of the first quarter, but Toledo outscored ISU by 10 points in the second to take a seven-point lead into halftime.
Toledo extended their lead by 15 in the third quarter but Iowa State continued to push and they managed to cut Toledo’s lead to five with 7:17 to go. However, the 5-seeds never got the game within a single possession after that, thanks in part to Toledo's reliable shooting from the foul line.
Lockett was one of four Toledo players to score in double digits as she led the game in scoring with 24 points, shooting 55% from the field and 66.7% from the free throw line. The senior guard averaged 4.9 rebounds over the season but managed 13 against ISU and also provided four assists.
Only one team managed to score over 100 points in the first round and that honour went to 2-seeds Utah in their Greenville Regional 2 victory over Gardner-Webb.
Utah claimed a 103-78 victory as they set up a second-round tie with Princeton, who pulled off a minor upset with a one-point win over NC State in a 10 vs 7 matchup.
The 103 points scored was a record for Utah in a game at the tournament and they were led by a big display from Alissa Pili, who had a career-high 33-points, going 12-17 from the field and 9-11 from the foul line. Pili posted a career-high eight assists and added eight rebounds.
There were three other Utah players who scored in double digits as Jenna Johnson had 20 points, 10 of which came in the first quarter. Gianna Kneepkens led the game in rebounding with nine and had 17 points, while Lani White ended the game with 10 points.
Utah are 10/11 To Beat Princeton with a -10 handicap in the Point Spread ahead of their second-round game.