NCAA day one: Stanford and Utah advance, Colorado goes home

The first day of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament was a very long day. Any day in which I watch four games is taxing, but I went Friday with no sleep (I’ve been nervous and edgy since Selection Sunday; sleeping Thursday night, ha), and watched in three locations. 10:30 a.m. at home for Colorado-Creighton, drove to Stanford to watch Utah-Arkansas in the media workroom at 2:30, then hopped over to Maples for Kansas-Georgia Tech at 4:30 and Stanford-Montana State at 7 (I tried to sleep during the second half of the Stanford game, but my seat is in front of their obnoxious student section).

Got home and crashed, woke an hour ago. Still tired, so I’ll skip the formality of writing anything that resembles news.

#10 Creighton 84 #7 Colorado 74 (Greensboro)

I picked 15 of 16 in the women’s bracket; the only loser was picking Colorado over Creighton.

It sometimes seems to me that basketball coaches are blowing smoke at media when they say: “We’ll do what we do, and they’ll do what they do”, but that’s what happened.

Creighton shot the snot out of the ball to begin the second half (4-of-6 3FG), and made all their free throws at the end (12-of-12).

Colorado’s defense was not up to its usual standard. I’ve been itching to say for the last two months that “Kindyll Wetta never looked like a freshman this season”, but she did Friday. The play that killed the Buffaloes was with 1:36 left in the game, when Creighton led 72-68. Wetta made a steal in the backcourt, broke to the Colorado basket where she missed the contested layup, then committed an upgraded-to-intentional-foul-after-review to give Creighton two free throws plus possession. A six-point swing in the last 90 seconds of an elimination game.

The Blue Jays made 8-of-8 free throws in the final 1:28. There’s no one on that team to target with an intentional foul.

#7 Utah 92 #10 Arkansas 69 (Spokane)

If bookmakers were taking action on this game, I thought over-150 would’ve been an excellent wager, though I didn’t think it would happen by 90 points on one side, 60 on the other.

While winning their first NCAA tournament game since 2009, the Utes broke, tied, or approached all manner of school records during NCAA play. 92 points and 15 treys are new team records. I suggested that you to pay attention to senior Dru Gylten; her 11 assists is a new record. Sophomore forward Kelsey Rees made her first double of the season with 11 and 10, and zero fouls. The player of the game was sophomore forward Kennady McQueen: 20 points (6-of-9 3FG plus 2-of-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal in 21 minutes.

In the aforementioned bracket, I’ve got Utah winning the national championship, beating #2 Texas, #3 LSU, #1 Stanford, #2 Connecticut, and #1 South Carolina. Seriously, why not. I said Utah is scratching the surface of what they can do; who can say they won’t beat five teams in the Associated Press top 10.

Utah
No.PlayerGameScore
22Johnson,Jenna2.6
24McQueen,Kennady21.1
10Gylten,Dru7
53Rees,Kelsey12.2
05Kneepkens,Gianna13.2
11Maxwell,Brynna3
01Palmer,Isabel5.8
02Vieira,Ines0.4
34Young,Dasia6.7
34Johnson,Maka-1

#1 Stanford 78 #16 Montana St. 37

At which I saw three things I’ve never seen before:

  • Montana St. didn’t score in the first quarter; it was the first such shutout Stanford has ever pitched.
  • Hannah Jump missed three consecutive 3-point attempts. She made two, missed three, hit two, and the universe was back in order. Jump finished 5-of-11, the game’s high scorer with 15 points.
  • Stanford’s forecourt tag team of sophomore Cameron Brink and junior Fran Belibi scored 23 points, got 22 rebounds, blocked 6 shots. The play that the nation will see on ESPN SportsCenter and social media outlets was Belibi’s steal-breakaway-dunk.

Maples Pavilion was half-full, yet I’ve never heard so much noise in that place, while the Stanford bench was jumping. Put me in the humbug camp that sees a dunk as no better than a layup, but the Belibi dunk is viral content, and women’s basketball needs all the viral content it can muster.

Stanford’s next opponent is #8 Kansas, who beat #9 Georgia Tech 77-58. The Jayhawks played aggressive defense, while the Yellowjackets did not.

Stanford
No.PlayerGameScore
30Jones,Haley-0.9
22Brink,Cameron16.7
12Hull,Lexie13
24Hull,Lacie5.9
03Wilson,Anna5.3
05Belibi,Francesca13.9
33Jump,Hannah8.3
02Emma-Nnopu,Agnes-2.4
44Iriafen,Kiki6.8
11Prechtel,Ashten2.7
04Van Gytenbeek,Jana-1.1
10Jerome,Alyssa-1.8
21Demetre,Brooke-1.8
10Bosgana,Elena1.3