Perhaps the biggest upset of the opening rounds of the NCAA Division I Women’s Basketball Tournament was Stanford’s loss to Ole Miss in the round of 32. It was the first time a regional number-one seed has failed to advance to the Sweet 16 since 2009 and the first time since 2007 that the Cardinal didn’t make the Sweet 16.
All four teams from New York and New Jersey have exited the Tournament. Monmouth was defeated by Tennessee Tech in the First Four/Round of 68. St. John’s won an incredibly close First Four battle with Purdue, but then lost an equally close game to North Carolina in the round of 64. Iona was overpowered by Duke in its first round game. Princeton upset NC State in the first round on a thrilling closing seconds three-pointer from senior Grace Stone. The second round game was a ferocious battle, but Utah came away with the win.
Louisiana State University has advanced to the Sweet 16, playing with confidence and conviction. Now under the leadership of head coach Kim Mulkey, who led Baylor to three NCAA titles, the team is poised to return to its place on the national stage.
“When I watch the ladies play, the atmosphere is electric,” said Marie Ferdinand-Harris, LSU alumna and former WNBA player. “It’s heartwarming to see the program moving in the right direction…Kim Mulkey brings that passion. As a player, that’s what you want because it motivates you to play even harder.”
South Carolina, the overall top seed in the Tournament, has advanced through the first two rounds with ease. After its first-round win over Norfolk State, an HBCU, South Carolina coach Dawn Staley visited the losing team’s locker room to offer the players encouragement. She also praised the team in the post-game press conference.
“It was great hearing that Dawn Staley can see that our team is more than what most people see us as…We’re just getting started and we’re going to continue to make history,” said sophomore guard and Brooklyn native Da’naijah Williams.
“To be able to hear these words from such a remarkable coach and see that she meant it and didn’t just say it to say it was a great feeling,” said sophomore guard Niya Fields, from Peekskill.
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