NCAA Tournament: First round thoughts

It’s a wrap for the first day of round 1

The Baylor Lady Bears came out looking a big sluggish against Fresno State but took charge in the second half to win, 69-55, Saturday night in Berkeley. Brittney Griner led the Lady Bears with 18 points and eight rebounds.

Fresno State senior Joh-Teena Filipe made some unfortunate comments about her team’s matchup against Baylor earlier in the week. On Monday night, a reporter asked her about Griner, who is known for her blocking and dunking abilities.

“I’ll hurt her if she tries to dunk on me,” said Filipe.” Her teammate Hayley Monroe then said “yeah, but within the rules.”  Filipe quickly followed up with “within the rules of the game” echoing her teammate.

Later, Filipe, a senior who is majoring in women’s studies, tried to retract her comments. She learned the hard way that if you say something to a veteran reporter, you cannot lie later and pretend the words did not come out of your mouth.

Reporter Jeff Davis responded in a blog post:

I’ve been a reporter for over 33 years now and I’ve never made up a quote, especially one as juicy as that. But that’s not the first time a coach or player has said they’ve been either misquoted or didn’t say what they said.

He covers Fresno State and took Filipe to task:

I’m just a little disappointed in Filipe for basically calling me a liar. It’s a knock to my reputation as a fair and honest journalist.

To make matters worse for Filipe, she fouled out of the game midway through the second half and sat on the bench to watch her team get beat by a double-digit margin. C’est la vie.

For all of the seniors who have played the last game of their college career, this one is for you:

Recaps of the games in the last batch of the day:

The third set, Oklahoma State survives without Riley

Out west Portland State gave Texas A&M a run for their money in the first half with several lead changes before the break. But in the second half the Aggies turned it up and proceeded to run roughshod over the Vikings winning, 84-53.

The Big Sky champions are led by the only out coach in Division I women’s basketball, Sherri Murrell. She includes information about her partner and family in her bio on the team’s Web site and in the media guide. If only other coaches would not be so afraid to be themselves and relax. No need for hoopla, just live your life without fear.

Oklahoma State played without leading scorer Andrea Riley who sat out because of a delayed suspension from two years ago. Her team encountered trouble for much of the game from Chattanooga but in the end the Cowgirls outlasted the Mocs, pulling out a 70-63 victory and giving Riley the chance to play in the tournament.

Rutgers coach C. Vivian Stringer lost to her old team Iowa, 70-63. Several articles were written about her connections to the school and the relationships she developed while leading the Hawkeyes years ago.


A commercial for the break

Eight down, eight to go and Dayton takes down TCU in a buzzer beater, 67-66

While No. 8 seed Dayton and No. 9 seed TCU seemed pretty evenly matched for most of the first half, the Horned Frogs pulled away in the second and managed to build an 18-point lead.  However, Dayton was unfazed.

The Flyers used a flurry of treys and defensive prowess to power their way back into the game taking the lead with just 30 seconds left. But TCU was not done. Junior guard Helena Sverissdottir went to the line to give her team a one-point lead. Yet again, the Flyers came roaring back with Brittany Wilson making a shot with just seconds left on the clock to upset TCU. The best game by far, so far.

Recaps from all the games:

1:30 p.m. CT

The first batch of games are done. No major upsets. The closest game was the contest between No. 12 seed Bowling Green and No. 5 Michigan State. MSU and BGSU traded the lead several times during the game but in the second quarter the Spartans pulled away for good winning it all 72-62.

Senior forward Aisha Jefferson led MSU with 17 points, nine rebound and three steals. She expressed happiness at playing in the Kansas City region:

I’m just excited to be playing in the tournament, and the site really doesn’t matter.  I think our seed is fair.  I’m excited that it is close to Michigan and it allows our family and friends to travel and support us.  We are expecting to have a lot of people here.  One of the things that I was happy about was our location.

The other three games were pretty much sleepers. A highlight, if you want to call it that, was Hartford coach Jen Rizzotti getting ejected after a second technical in her squad’s game against LSU with with 7:27 left on the clock.

Rizzotti played for LSU coach Van Chancellor in the WNBA as a Houston Comet. During the March 19 press conference. he had some kind words about his connection to his former player:

It’s a great relationship … I knew Jennifer when she played for me in the WNBA. I told Kevin Cook one day, one of my assistant coaches, I thought she’d make a great coach. She just understood the game. She just had a great awareness where to go, what to do, what plays to run. She was a real coach on the floor. I knew she’d be a heck of a coach.

Rizzotti talked about coaching in Connecticut:

The state of Connecticut itself is a great place to play women’s basketball. The fans there are very educated, they’re very loyal and there’s room for more than one team in that state. So, we have a great opportunity to be seen by a lot of people, to have kids growing up in the area wanting to play for their home state. We’ve been able to corral some of the local talent, like Diana [Delva’s] come in to play for us. A lot of people think that we get overshadowed all the time, but being a player that played at the University of Connecticut, you understand the hard work that goes into raising a program to that level. So that attention that they get is deserved, and we don’t certainly feel like second fiddle in the state. We’ve got great fans of our own, we get the attention that we deserve, and certainly we’ve played to a national level this year and gotten the attention of the nation, and not just in our state.


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