Georgia zones in, tops Florida State

South Carolina forward Aliyah Boston (4) reaches over Norfolk State forward Kierra Wheeler (50) in the first half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 17, 2023, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Georgia Coach Katie Abrahamson-Henderson said her first season as the Bulldogs' head coach was an internal battle to find "stars."

"The star," she said, "was our defense."

The Lady Bulldogs' zone defense stifled Florida State in Friday's 66-54 win in a women's NCAA Tournament first-round game.

Diamond Battles scored 21 points and Audrey Warren added 11 points as the 10th-seeded Lady Bulldogs (22-11) advanced to Sunday's second round to face No. 2 seed Iowa.

Georgia held the seventh-seeded Seminoles (23-10) to just 26.9% shooting from the floor, including 22.9% in the second half.

"They're big, they're physical," Florida State Coach Brooke Wyckoff said. "It's not your typical stand-around zone. They're very aggressive. They play 100% zone, and they know what they're doing."

The Lady Bulldogs have embraced their defensive mentality. Asked why the zone works so well, Battles smiled and said, "I don't want to give away any secrets."

She did go into a little bit of detail, though.

"It's ball pressure," Battles said. "I think most teams struggle with the pressure, because it is a zone. We try to upset their offense."

Georgia led 43-40 with 2:03 left in the third quarter before going on a 14-0 run that extended three minutes into the fourth quarter. Florida State would get no closer than 10 points the rest of the game.

"They were getting tips," Abrahamson-Henderson said of her team's defensive pressure in that stretch. "It was just being really savvy, getting tips, getting loose balls."

Florida State guard Taylor O'Brien agreed, saying Georgia's "defense was all over the place" and "we didn't get the 50-50 balls."

The Seminoles (23-10) had just eight available players for the tournament. The university announced on Thursday morning that freshman guard Ta'Niya Latson and sophomore guard O'Mariah Gordon were out for the rest of the season because of injuries.

Latson was an honorable-mention Associated Press All-American along with being the ACC's Rookie of the Year and a first-team all-conference selection. She averaged 21.3 points and 4.5 rebounds this season. Gordon, who played in 30 games and started twice this season, averaged 6.9 points and two rebounds.

"We've played this way all year," Florida State forward Erin Howard said. "We were used to it. It's tough mentally, but we've been here before."

Howard had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead Florida State. O'Brien had 15 points.

"We're obviously very disappointed," Wyckoff said. "We were confident coming in here. Unfortunately, the ball wouldn't drop all day."

Jordan Isaacs had 10 points and Javyn Nicholson had 13 rebounds for Georgia.



STANFORD, Calif. -- Haley Jones scored 17 points for a top-seeded Stanford team missing star Cameron Brink because of a stomach bug, and the Cardinal advanced by beating 16th-seeded Sacred Heart.

Freshman Talana Lepolo dished out seven assists in her NCAA debut as Stanford advances to the second round.

Stanford notched the program's 100th NCAA Tournament victory -- third most all-time behind Tennessee and UConn. The Cardinal (29-5) have reached the Sweet 16 in 14 consecutive tournaments and haven't lost in the first two rounds since falling to Florida State at home in 2007.

Freshman Ny'Ceara Pryor scored 12 points to lead cold-shooting Sacred Heart (19-14), which overcame a 2-9 start to the season.

Senior Francesca Belibi finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Cardinal.

IOWA 95,


IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Caitlin Clark had 26 points and 12 assists and Monika Czinano added 22 points as Iowa defeated Southeastern Louisiana.

Hannah Stuelke added 13 points for the Hawkeyes (27-6), who will play No. 10 seed Georgia in the second round on Sunday.

Clark, an Associated Press first-team All-American, added seven assists. She was 9 of 14 from the field.

The Hawkeyes, playing in front of a sellout crowd of 14,382, never trailed. They led 28-17 at the end of the first quarter and 54-32 at halftime. Iowa shot 60.6% in the first half, 60% for the game.

Iowa's defense held the Lady Lions to just 25.4% shooting for the game, including 3 of 32 from the field in the second half.

Southeastern Louisiana (21-10), a No. 15 seed that was the Southland Conference regular season and tournament champion, was making its first NCAA Tournament appearance.



STANFORD, Calif. — Snudda Collins scored 15 points and eighth-seeded Mississippi once again leaned on its stingy defense to get past No. 9 seed Gonzaga.

Now, bring on top-seeded Stanford on its home court.

Ole Miss will face the Cardinal (29-5) on Sunday for a spot at the Sweet Sixteen in Seattle next weekend.

Already tested twice by No. 1 South Carolina, Coach Yolett McPhee-McCuin’s Rebels showed off their signature defense that has held opponents to just 56.8 points per game by shutting down one of the nation’s top three-point-shooting teams.