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Bears use strong finish, top Tide

by The Associated Press | March 19, 2023 at 2:38 a.m.
Baylor’s Sarah Andrews (left) dribbles around Alabama’s Jada Rice during a first-round NCAA Women’s Tournament game on Saturday in Storrs, Conn. Baylor won 78-74 and will take on UConn on Monday. (AP/Jessica Hill)

STORRS, CONN. -- Nicki Collen says she had a blackout moment in the locker room and can't remember exactly what she told her Baylor Bears at halftime, but knows the impassioned speech involved a lot of challenges.

Ja'Mee Asberry scored 26 points, including three key foul shots in the final minute, and the seventh seed overcame an early 18-point deficit to beat Alabama 78-74 on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Sarah Andrews and Caitlin Bickle each added 14 for the Bears (20-12), whose rally tied for the third biggest comeback in tournament history. Baylor closed the game on a 7-0 run, all from the foul line.

Brittany Davis tied a career high with 33 points for Alabama (20-11), which closes its season on a five-game losing streak. Jada Rice and Sarah Ashlee Barker each scored 11.

Baylor will face No. 2 seed UConn in the second round Monday night.

The Bears trailed 22-4 after a quarter and by 11 at halftime, leading to some choice words from Collen to her team.

"No swear words, I gave those up for Lent, but a lot of challenges thrown out about how we needed to compete," she said. "I challenged like, 'You have to be better, you just have to be better.' "

Baylor was better, opening the third quarter on a 16-3 run and taking the lead at 46-44 on a three-pointer from the left wing by Andrews, one of her four on the evening.

Alabama fought back and led 59-54 after 30 minutes.

But Baylor held Alabama without a field goal for more than four minutes in the fourth quarter and took the lead at 71-68 on a three-pointer from the top of the key by Andrews with 31/2 minutes left.

A three-pointer from the left wing by Davis off an offensive rebound from Hannah Barber tied the game again at 71 and a conventional three-point play from Jada Rice gave Alabama a 74-71 lead with 53.5 seconds left.

But Baylor held Alabama scoreless from there and hit seven foul shots, the final three from Asberry, to close out the game. They were 14-for-16 from the line, including 9 of 10 in the final quarter.

"I did pray," said Asberry. "I was asking God, 'Just go in please.' "

Davis had 15 points in the first quarter, nine on 3-of-4 shooting from behind the arc, helping Alabama to its 18-point advantage.


STORRS, Conn. -- Aaliyah Edwards scored a career-high 28 points, Dorka Juhasz scored 15 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and UConn routed Vermont, giving the Huskies a 29th consecutive win in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.

Caroline Ducharme added 12 points, helping Connecticut (30-5) to its 26th, 30-win season during Geno Auriemma's 38 years as coach.

Catherine Gilwee scored 14 points, while Emma Utterback and Maria Myklebust each had 13 for Vermont (25-7), which had its 17-game winning streak snapped.



KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Jordan Horston scored 21 points and Rickea Jackson added 18 as Tennessee remained perfect when opening the NCAA Tournament on their home court, routing Saint Louis.

Jordan Walker added 11 points and Tess Darby had 10 for the Lady Vols (24-11).

The first NCAA Tournament appearance ended quickly for Saint Louis (17-18). The Billikens snapped the six-game winning streak that helped them win the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament after starting the season 6-16.

Brooke Flowers led Saint Louis with 17 points, and Kyla McMakin, who followed Coach Rebecca Tillett from Longwood as a transfer, added 11. Camree Clegg added 12 off the bench.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. -- Quinesha Lockett scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as Toledo knocked off Iowa State.

Toledo became the second 12 seed to win Saturday, joining Florida Gulf Coast not long after its win over Washington State. Toledo now will play No. 4 seed Tennessee.

The Rockets (29-4) matched the program record for most wins for a second consecutive season by winning a record 17th consecutive game, topping the 16-game streak of 2000-01. They also posted their first NCAA win since 1996 in their ninth tournament appearance overall and first since 2017.

Iowa State (22-10) came in as the Big 12 Tournament champ for the first time since 2001 after stringing together upsets of a trio of NCAA Tournament teams in Baylor, Oklahoma and Texas. The Cyclones also had the Big 12 Player of the Year in Ashley Joens looking for a second consecutive Sweet 16 berth.

Joens led Iowa State with 23 points and 13 rebounds.



COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Cotie McMahon scored 18 points to help Ohio State pull away for a win over James Madison.

McMahon made her team's first three-pointer with 5:18 left in the third quarter to give Ohio State (26-7) a 44-43 lead, and the Buckeyes didn't give up the advantage from there on out. They trailed by as many as 16 in the first half before going on a 12-0 run.

Jacy Sheldon scored three of her 17 points during an 8-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter. Taylor Thierry shot 7 of 8 and fouled out with 15 points. Taylor Mikesell added 14 points.

James Madison (26-8) led 26-14 and was making 50% of its shots at the end of the first quarter. The Dukes shot 37.9% in the second half and turned it over 21 times, their most in 10 games.

Kiki Jefferson led the Dukes with 17 points and Jamia Hazell added 10.



COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Deja Kelly had a go-ahead three-point play with 2 seconds left and North Carolina hung on for a win over St. John's.

The Tar Heels faced their first deficit of the game when Danielle Patterson sank a three-pointer with 6:39 left to play.

The Red Storm led for the next four-plus minutes until Paulina Paris was fouled in transition and made the ensuing free throw to tie the game at 54.

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