Tennessee plays Texas Tech and Rutgers faces Ohio State on Sunday at the Liacouras Center, and both games should be ultra-competitive -- but we'll break down the matchups later this week. For now, let's see how these teams advanced through the first two rounds.
At KnoxvilleTennessee simply overpowered No. 16 seed Western Carolina 94-43 behind 28 points from Shanna Zolman. She tied her career high with that performance. The Volunteers jumped on Western Carolina from the start and never let up. To be fair, Tennessee was not pouring it on but the Volunteers were just several levels ahead of the Catamounts.
Still, Western Carolina should be proud of its season, especially reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. While no Western Carolina player managed to hit double figures in scoring, its players will never forget the memory of playing in the Big Dance at Thompson-Boling Arena.
Western Carolina coach Kellie Jolly Harper, a former star at Tennessee, received a standing ovation from the crowd. That's very, very classy.
In the other opening-round game, No. 9 Purdue defeated No. 8 New Mexico 68-56. It took a while for the Boilermakers to figure out how to break the Lobos' fullcourt pressure, but once they did, they were able to pull away.
Erin Lawless led Purdue with 22 points while Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton added 17.
New Mexico, which finished its season at 26-5, trailed 55-50 late in regulation before Purdue extended its lead. Mandi Moore had 18 points for New Mexico, which amazingly shot only two free throws the entire game.
In the second round, Tennessee had little trouble with Purdue, easily rolling to a 75-54 win, but Tennessee coach Pat Summitt was the story of this game as she registered her 880th career victory. In 31 years as the Volunteers' coach, Summitt now has a lifetime record of 880-171, surpassing former North Carolina men's coach Dean Smith, who retired in 1997 with 879 victories.
Tennessee's stifling defense held Purdue without a field goal for the first 6:35 of the second half, which removed whatever doubt there was about the Vols winning on their home court (they are 46-0 in tournament games in Knoxville). Tye'sha Fluker tied her career high with 18 points to along with 10 rebounds for the Volunteers, who are seeking their seventh national championship. Shyra Ely added 16 points and Zolman had 15.
At DallasTexas Tech had a surprisingly tough first-round game against No. 13 Texas-Arlington, leading by only three points at halftime before breaking the game open in the second half en route to a 69-49 win. LaToya Davis, unheralded at the start of the season, was fantastic for Texas Tech with 26 points.
The Mavericks could not contain Davis and in the end, they were just beaten by a better team. Rola Ogunoye led Texas-Arlington with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
It was the other first-round game here which shocked some people. For the second consecutive year, Middle Tennessee took down an ACC opponent in the opening round: Last year it was North Carolina; this time it was North Carolina State.
Patrice Holmes hit a tough 10-foot shot with 1.6 seconds remaining, lifting No. 12 Middle Tennessee to a 60-58 upset victory. It was the third game-winning shot in the last four games for Holmes, who tied her season-high with 28 points.
In the second round, the slipper fell off the Blue Raiders, who succumbed to Texas Tech 80-69. However, Middle Tennessee trailed 71-62 with 4:32 remaining, and it competed to the final buzzer. Congratulations to the Blue Raiders. They deserve it, finishing with a respectable 24-9 record.
Sophomore Alesha Robertson scored 25 points for Texas Tech, which was her fifth 20-plus point effort this season. For Texas Tech, it's the 11th career trip to the Sweet 16.
At College ParkNo. 2 Ohio State was not tested at all against No. 15 Holy Cross, cruising to an 86-45 victory. Sophomore center Jessica Davenport had 23 points and 11 rebounds for the Buckeyes, whose size overwhelmed the smaller Crusaders.
Holy Cross entered the game on a four-game winning streak, but beating Ohio State was too difficult of a challenge. Still, the Crusaders had a sensational season, winning 20 games.
The Maryland-Wisconsin-Green Bay, though, game turned out to be a battle. Early in the second half, it even seemed as if the Phoenix would beat the Terrapins on their own court at the Comcast Center. Wisconsin-Green Bay led 39-36 with 14:17 remaining, but it had no answer for Shay Duron, who scored 18 of her 26 points in the second half. The Phoenix also connected on just one of 11 of its 3-pointers, 0 of 6 in the second half. That's not going to get the job done in the NCAA tournament.
Senior Tiffany Mor played her typical steady game for Wisconsin-Green Bay, registering 15 points and 12 rebounds. Abby Scharlow led the way with 21 points.
In the second round, Ohio State held off Maryland 75-65 and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 1993.
The Buckeyes led 35-34 at halftime on Maryland's home court before its trio of standout players -- Davenport (15 points, nine rebounds), Brandie Hoskins (22 points) and Caity Matter (16 points) -- took charge.
Crystal Langhorne did everything she could to try and propel the Terrapins to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1992. Langhorne, only a freshman, had 22 points and 16 rebounds.
At StorrsRutgers held off stubborn Hartford in the first round, 62-37, buthe score is a little deceiving because Hartford trailed 49-35 with 5:10 to go before the Scarlet Knights finished the game on a 13-2 run.
Senior guard Cappie Pondexter was terrific for Rutgers with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Rutgers also allowed the fewest points to an opponent all season.
The No. 14 Hawks (22-9) did not have a player in double figures, but coach Jen Rizzotti should be ecstatic with her team. Rizzotti has done an incredible job turning around the program.
What really hurt Louisiana Tech was sloppy play in the second half. It committed 13 costly turnovers, which is too many in a game, let alone one half. Junior Tasha Crain played a solid game with 28 points, and Erica Smith-Taylor's two looks at potential game-tying threes in the final seconds both misfired -- but she'll still be a first-round pick in the April 16 WNBA draft.
In the second round, Rutgers snapped Temple's 25-game winning streak with a hard-fought seven-point victory. Pondexter was terrific again with 25 points and five steals.
Earlier this season, Temple defeated Rutgers 71-60, but Pondexter did not play. With Pondexter, Rutgers is a much better team.
Next stop for Rutgers is the Sweet 16, and the Scarlet Knights seem to be playing as well as anyone in the country -- of course, Ohio State, Texas Tech and Tennessee are all playing pretty well too.