Ionescu gets triple-double in women's NCAA Tournament opener
(AP Photo/Chris Pietsch)
By DOUG FEINBERG
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) Sabrina Ionescu stuffed the stat sheet once again while a pair of 10 seeds spoiled a nearly perfect day for the chalk on the opening day of the women's NCAA Tournament.
Ionescu posted her 10th career triple-double and the 16th in NCAA Tournament history, leading Oregon to an easy win over Seattle on Friday. The star sophomore accomplished the feat in just 29 minutes on the floor.
The day started with wins for the higher seeds before Minnesota and Virginia pulled off mild upsets against Green Bay and California.
The Gophers got a huge performance from Kenisha Bell, who scored 24 of her 26 points in the second half. Next up for Minnesota is Ionescu and Oregon.
Virginia earned its first NCAA Tournament win in nine years with a 68-62 victory against an injury-depleted Cal squad. The Bears were missing star Kristin Anigwe, who was ruled out a few hours before tip when the team said she wasn't medically cleared to play.
Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said she could not elaborate on Anigwe's condition, only that it was more important to protect a young player's health than try and rush her back to the court if she was not cleared to play.
Higher seeds went 13-3 on the day, with ninth-seeded Villanova also pulling off a victory over South Dakota State.
Top seeds Louisville and Notre Dame cruised to easy wins, but the Irish lost senior captain Kathryn Westbeld to a left ankle injury.
Coach Muffet McGraw, who has dealt with four season-ending ACL injuries to key players, said Westbeld is doubtful for Sunday's second-round game.
Ionescu finished with 19 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the first triple-double in the NCAAs since Samantha Logic for Iowa in 2015 against Baylor.
Here are a few other tidbits from the opening round of games:
GOOD OFFENSE BEATS GOOD DEFENSE: Green Bay, Liberty and Princeton came into the day with some of the stingiest defenses in the country. They were no match for Maryland, Tennessee and Minnesota.
The Phoenix led the nation in scoring defense, giving up just 46.1 points a game. The Lady Flames were seventh (53.7) and the Tigers 10th (54.3). Their three big-time opponents averaged nearly 89 points on Friday.
Tennessee put up 100 points on Liberty, the first time the team has given up that many since losing to the Lady Vols 20 years ago in the NCAA Tournament.
The Lady Vols finished the game shooting an NCAA program-best 61.7 percent (37 of 60) from the field, including an impressive 24 of 30 in the second half.
IMPRESSIVE DEBUT: Texas A&M's Chennedy Carter, who was the consensus freshman of the year, had 26 points, 11 assists, six steals and five rebounds in the Aggies' win over Drake.
"It's fun. It's a lot of emotions. Once you make a big play or when your teammate finishes for you, when you execute a play and someone knocks down an open 3, it's fun," Carter said. "It becomes fun. When you run the game and have the tempo going, me as a point guard, my job becomes so much easier. We went on a little run there. I got a little smile going out of my shooting guard. It becomes fun when you're winning and when you're playing as a team and when you're executing."
STILL WINLESS: With the losses by North Carolina A&T, Seattle and Grambling State, 15 seeds fell to 0-99 in NCAA Tournament history. Harvard remains the only team seeded 14-15-16 to win a game in women's tournament history. The 14 seeds are 0-97.
Updated March 17, 2018