Key injuries could derail South Carolina, Notre Dame women
South Carolina guard Kaela Davis (3) celebrates at the conclusion of a second-round game in the NCAA women’s college basketball tournament against Arizona State on Sunday, March 19, 2017, in Columbia, S.C. South Carolina defeated Arizona State 71-68. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)
NEW YORK — South Carolina and Notre Dame both survived upset bids in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
The two No. 1 seeds may have trouble advancing much further because of knee injuries to key players.
The Gamecocks rallied to beat Arizona State 71-68 without starting guard Allisha Gray. She was carried off the court after hurting her knee late in the game, and coach Dawn Staley said Gray was being evaluated by doctors after the game.
Notre Dame needed overtime to dispatch Purdue, doing so without star forward Brianna Turner. She went down with a left knee injury late in the first half. She walked off the court to the locker room, but didn’t play in the second half as Notre Dame won 88-82 in OT. Coach Muffet McGraw said postgame that Turner would have an MRI on her knee Monday.
These weren’t the first notable knee injuries in the tournament, either. A day earlier, Duke guard Kyra Lambert injured her left knee. Blue Devils coach Joanne P. McCallie said on Sunday that ‘Kyra is out for a long time.’
Here are a few other interesting items from Sunday:
SHOT OF THE TOURNAMENT
Maryland freshman Destiny Slocum had the basket of the day, hitting a 70-footer just before the half.
‘Why not?’ Slocum said. ‘Just throw it up and see what happens. Watching that thing was crazy. I was in shock. Am still.’
The 5-foot-7 guard was immediately swarmed by her teammates while the fans in Maryland’s home arena stood and cheered.
‘That’s her range,’ Walker-Kimbrough said. ‘I was surprised she made it, but a part of me wasn’t.’
AVOIDING THE UPSET
South Carolina and Notre Dame avoided being the first No. 1 seeds to lose in the second round since ninth-seeded Michigan State beat Duke in 2009. No No. 8 seed has won a second-round game since 2006.
SO LONG SENIORS
Makayla Epps had 21 points and Evelyn Akhator had 14 points with a career-high 23 rebounds in their final games for Kentucky.
Epps and Akhator were understandably emotional after their final home games at Memorial Coliseum. They acknowledged applause from a mostly blue-clad crowd and choked up several times discussing their careers.
‘Even though we didn’t get the win today, we’re a team,’ said Epps, who thanked coach Matthew Mitchell, teammates and others. ‘We made Memorial Coliseum rock today and I will never forget the players in the locker room.’
Epps finished as Kentucky’s No. 5 career scorer with 1,790 points.
BE LIKE BAYLOR
California was coming off an unexpected Final Four the season before when it last played Baylor in a second-round matchup in 2014. Coach Lindsay Gottlieb was talking then about establishing the kind of program Baylor has, and is still striving for that goal.
‘This is a big step for this team this year to go 12-0 in nonconference and to make the NCAA Tournament and then to win a game,’ Gottlieb said. ‘We will have most of our team coming back next year, so it’s all part of a larger process.’
Kim Mulkey is in her 17th season at Baylor. Gottlieb is in her sixth year already at Cal, where she is the school’s second-winningest coach and has five NCAA appearances.
Gottlieb said the goal is to be one of those programs in the conversation with the likes of UConn, Notre Dame, Baylor and Stanford.
‘We want to be in that realm,’ Gottlieb said. ‘You have to beat some of those teams to do it and you have to continually be on this stage and continue to advance further. Definitely pleased with the success we have had, but hoping that the next five years are even better. It would be nice to start that (Monday) night.’
GOING AGAINST BAYLOR’S BIGS
Baylor has three post players that are at least 6-foot-4, and the trio (two sophomores and a freshman) combined for 60 points and 24 rebounds in the first round.
Kristine Anigwe, Cal’s 6-4 sophomore post, feels like she is ready for the challenge.
‘Pac-12 did a good job of preparing me. Oregon State has really good post players. UCLA has really good post players, Washington. I’m prepared. I’ve faced this before,’ Anigwe said. ‘We watched a lot of film again. I think we’re ready to go into this game. We had nothing to lose, everything to gain.’
Baylor coach Kim Mulkey on Sunday described Anigwe has having tremendous athleticism, and being a player with great range who runs the floor well.
JUST A MEMORY NOW
Those 119 points and the 89-point victory for Baylor in the first round of the NCAA Tournament are already just a memory.
The Lady Bears are focused on their second-round game against California.
‘You erase it. It was a great game. It was a great showing,’ senior forward Nina Davis said of Baylor’s 119-30 win over Texas Southern on Saturday night. ‘We’re expected to win and we expected to win that game, so you move on from that. You just look forward to the next game. You don’t look too far ahead, and you don’t look in the past.’
AP Basketball Writer Stephen Hawkins in Waco, Texas, contributed to this story.