The top-seeded Gamecocks led 44-four at halftime and finished just as strongly. Florida Gulf Declension, a big upset pick, beat Virginia Tech.


Sean Rayford/Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina has set the bar exceedingly loftier.

The top-seeded Gamecocks opened the showtime round of the North.C.A.A. women’south basketball game tournament past cruising to a 79-21 win over Howard. They will face Miami, which defeated South Florida earlier on Friday, in a 2d-round game on Sunday.

Aliyah Boston, South Carolina’s star frontwards and a forepart-runner for player of the twelvemonth, and Sania Feagin led the team with ten points each, and the Gamecocks were up 40 at halftime. Howard’southward 4 points in the first one-half were the lowest in a half in the history of the tournament.

The Gamecocks moved methodically and intentionally with Boston on the floor, taking their fourth dimension to fix their shots while Howard double-, triple- and even quadruple-teamed Boston at times. When Boston rested, South Carolina took advantage of its speed with powerful drives by Destiny Littleton, a senior guard.

Iyanna Warren secured all of Howard’s 4 points in the first one-half, scoring a total of 8 by game’due south end. Howard tried bulldoze after drive, moving speedily downwardly the court. But S Carolina’s towering defense could not be matched.

The Gamecocks are hoping to secure a national championship title for the first time since 2017.

This twelvemonth’s women’s tournament is the starting time to be officially marketed as a function of “March Madness” — the N.C.A.A.’s pop branding term that, until last fall, had been reserved exclusively for the men’south basketball tournament. Many of the changes to this year’s tournament were spurred after players, coaches and others raised concerns final year about how the N.C.A.A. seemed to treat the women’s tournament as a 2d-grade event.

At Colonial Life Arena in Columbia, S.C., players draped themselves in March Madness towels; March Madness banners were draped behind both baskets; and digital displays included the logo. Cheerleaders threw out March Madness towels to a packed arena. At home, viewers of ESPN were likewise able to see the logo superimposed on the court (tournament organizers said decals will exist applied to the women’southward courts starting in the round of 16 games, which are played at neutral sites rather than at the home arenas of top teams).

LeLe Grissett, a graduate pupil guard for South Carolina, said she hadn’t seen the March Madness merchandise that the men’s teams had received. “But what we take, I don’t think it’southward a departure” over last year, she said, adding that she had seen a couple of videos of women’s players not fitting into shirts that were included in their gift baskets. “Information technology’southward non equal. I don’t retrieve so.”


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But Jitney Dawn Staley said the change in atmosphere was palpable with the added March Madness signage.

“It’s a big deviation,” she said, calculation that “yous can’t tell from walking around the building and seeing the signage” that the Gamecocks were playing at their dwelling loonshit.

“Information technology’due south a really practiced start to shedding some of the inequities that occurred prior to this tournament,” she continued. “Just we accept to look style downward the line, five years, half-dozen years, seven years, as many years as it took for them to uncover what was happening to our tournament.”

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NCAA Women’s Basketball: Concluding Four

ESPN’south coverage of the women’s tournament briefly veered from basketball on Friday afternoon, when a handful of on-air personalities expressed their opposition to a Florida proposal that would limit classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.

The demonstrations came after Disney, which controls ESPN, faced pressure and criticism over its silence most the mensurate, which the company began to resist publicly only after it passed the Florida Legislature. They were among the most high-profile examples of the protests that Disney employees have staged in recent days to express their own opposition to the measure out, and to their employer’due south calibrated approach to lobbying about it.

“To be honest with you, we thought we were going to come here today and really celebrate a sport that has meant so much, and done then much, including for so many in the L.1000.B.T.Q.I.+ communities,” Elle Duncan, an ESPN anchor, said from a studio during halftime of the Howard-South Carolina game on Friday. “Merely we understand the gravity of this legislation and also how it’due south affecting and so many families across this land, and because of that, our allyship is going to take a forepart seat, and with that, we’re going to intermission in solidarity.”

Courtside in Columbia, S.C., minutes later on, Courtney Lyle and Carolyn Peck too discussed the legislation, which Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to sign into law.

“Commonly at this time, nosotros would take a await back at the first half, but there are things bigger than basketball that need to be addressed at this fourth dimension,” Lyle, the play-by-play commentator, said. “Our friends, our family, our co-workers, the players and coaches in our community are hurting right now.”

Peck, who led the women’southward basketball programs at Florida and Purdue, soon joined in: “The threat to any homo rights is a threat to all human rights, and at this time, Courtney and I, we’re going to take a pause from our broadcast to show our honey and support for our friends, our family and our colleagues.”

The game soon resumed — with Lyle and Peck briefly watching in silence.

ESPN, which had been prepared for the possibility of a demonstration, said in a statement: “Our colleagues have both our respect and our back up.”

The N.C.A.A. declined to annotate.


Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Conventional wisdom suggests y’all should always selection at least ane v-12 upset in your bracket, and many people who had been paying attention picked No. 12 seed Florida Gulf Coast to get by No. 5 Virginia Tech.

They were right. The Eagles rode the hot hands of their 3-bespeak shooters to a signature 84-81 win over the Hokies, in spite of a remarkable effort from Virginia Tech junior Elizabeth Kitley, a half dozen-foot-vi center. She had 42 points, merely the performance wasn’t quite plenty to counter the onslaught of 3-bespeak shots from F.G.C.U.

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Kierstan Bong, the Eagles’ leading scorer and a W.Northward.B.A. prospect, flaunted her elusiveness as she found a way to become to the basket repeatedly — through tricky spin moves and past getting to the gratuitous throw line. She had 22 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals when the game concluded, an impressive stat line that still fabricated up just a portion of the Eagles’ daunting offense.

Much of the credit for that offense should go to point guard Tishara Morehouse, who had nine assists in the course of facilitating her teammates’ 3-point shooting. Iii Florida Gulf Coast players hit three or more shots from beyond the arc, but someone had to get them the ball at exactly the correct time, and that person was Morehouse. She also added 13 points, albeit of the slightly less centre-catching variety.

The clincher came from Karli Seay, who hit her fourth 3-point shot with 27 seconds left in the game.


Eric Gay/Associated Printing

The Texas Longhorns, one of several teams who are in position to brand a serious run for a national title, fabricated quick piece of work of the 15th-seeded Fairfield Stags, 70-52.

Texas’ full court pressure forced Fairfield time and time again to scramble to avert shot clock violations. Turnovers piled up for the Stags and the Longhorns moved in apace to capitalize.

Despite the loss, the game was defined past remarkable physicality: Texas had 21 fouls and Fairfield, playing in its first N.C.A.A. tournament since 2001, committed nineteen.

The tone was evident right from the offset when Lauren Ebo, a post histrion for Texas, elbowed Lou Lopez-Senechal, Fairfield’s leading scorer, and gave her a bloody mouth. Lopez-Senechal returned in the tertiary quarter with stitches, and nailed a iii-arrow nigh immediately and quickly followed up with a layup on a backdoor pass.

Withal, the Longhorns took off in the fourth quarter, growing their 10-indicate atomic number 82 to twenty. Forward Aliyah Moore had 18 points and 10 rebounds, while baby-sit Roni Harmon scored x points with eleven assists.

Texas volition play No. 7 Utah on Sun.


Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

A surprise win was within reach of the Dayton Flyers until the quaternary quarter, when Georgia’s feel proved an insurmountable hurdle for the mid-major team. The Flyers had already become ane of the first teams ever to win a women’southward tournament play-in game earlier this calendar week, and were looking to extend their streak. They could not against Georgia, which won, 70-54.

But ii of Georgia’s fifth-yr seniors, Que Morrison and Jenna Staiti, made that impossible. Staiti scored basically at will beneath the basket, eventually garnering 19 points, while Morrison’due south midrange claw shots proved unstoppable for Dayton’southward defense. She finished with xvi points, viii rebounds and 7 assists.

Dayton kept the game tight through the offset of the 2d quarter. Even after Georgia had a 10-betoken cushion, the Flyers spent most of the game staying within striking distance. Their ability to threaten came almost exclusively courtesy of sophomore point baby-sit Makira Cook, who came up with a 3-point shot or laser-beam pass any time the Lady Bulldogs might accept started to think they could relax.

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By the fourth quarter, though, Georgia was firmly in control, getting to the gratis throw line and making layups that Dayton’due south post players had no gamble of contesting. Most exciting for Georgia fans may accept been the crucial contributions of 6-foot-five freshman Jillian Hollingshead, who scored 15 points off the bench — a taste of the kind of play they will need more of to brand a deeper run in the tournament.

Georgia has not made it by the second round since 2013.


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Creighton, which has historically been reliable even when seeded low, got its third North.C.A.A. tournament win as a No. ten seed with a victory over 7th-seeded Colorado, 84-74.

Though the Bluejays trailed the Buffaloes for most of the start one-half, sophomore Morgan Maly kept her team in the game early. In the second half, Creighton started hitting 3-pointers while Colorado had strings of empty possessions.

When the Bluejays needed a bucket, it seemed like another talented baby-sit would turn upwards a 3-point shot or clutch layup at exactly the right time. Lauren Jensen and Molly Mogensen bolstered Creighton’s lead in the second half with their efficient shooting.

The Buffaloes put up a fight, though. Colorado matched up with Creighton in about every statistical category, rebounding well and actually topping the Bluejays in assists, turnovers and steals. But the Bluejays hit twice as many 3-point shots as the Buffaloes, and ultimately had a much better time shooting from both the floor and the free throw line.

Colorado guard Jaylyn Sherrod made an especially valiant endeavor throughout, hitting a iii-indicate shot with under a minute left to narrow the gap to but 4 points. But the Buffaloes could not capitalize. The Bluejays hit their free throws and made Sherrod’s impressive 27-bespeak performance moot.

It’southward a tough conclusion for Colorado 5th-yr senior Mya Hollingshed, who has helped lead the program from being one of the worst in the Pac-12 Conference to establishing winning records this season and last flavor. This bid marked the Buffaloes’ first trip to the tournament since 2013.


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No. x seed South Dakota took command apace against No. 7 seed Mississippi in what would become the Coyotes’ first Division I tournament win in program history. Mississippi and its star, Due west.N.B.A. prospect Shakira Austin, looked helpless in the 75-61 defeat, failing to pull ahead even once in the Rebels’ first N.C.A.A. tournament appearance in 15 years.

Instead, it was a three-time Tiptop League Defensive Player of the Year, Hannah Sjerven, and a fellow fifth-year senior Chloe Lamb who dominated throughout, scoring 20 points apiece for South Dakota and leading the team in rebounds. Sjerven made all 7 of her shots and the 6-human foot-two center even made a 3-point basket.

Mississippi senior Angel Baker, who led Wright State to its offset ever tournament win in the 2021 tournament, led the Rebels in scoring, once once more performing well in a big game. Her steady scoring and consistency at the free throw line weren’t plenty for Mississippi to compete, though, delaying yet once more the renaissance of a program that was a fixture of the round of 16 in the belatedly 1980s and early ’90s.

The Coyotes played with impressive consistency, combining to hit 53.8 percentage of their shots and never allowing the Rebels to come inside striking distance.

Remy Tumin reported from Columbia, and Alan Blinder from Atlanta.