Saint Joseph's Knocks Off Georgia to Advance in NCAA Tournament
Saint Joseph’s 67, Georgia 57
STORRS, Conn. (AP) - Erin Shields is enjoying her second NCAA tournament trip to Gampel Pavilion a lot more than the first one.
Saint Joseph's senior guard had 18 points and seven rebounds to lead the Hawks (23-9) to a 67-57 win over eighth-seed Georgia in a first-round game Sunday night.
A year ago, Shields scored just five points and was just 2 for 14 from the field from a loss to Vanderbilt, a game that also was played in Storrs.
''I felt better this year,'' she said. ''Coming into the game, coach said, `You've got to be ready to shoot.'''
She hit five of her first nine shots, including 4 of 6 from 3-point range.
Ashley Robinson had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Hawks, who won in the tournament for the first time in 14 years. Natasha Cloud added 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
''Our kids played with a lot of intensity and emotion,'' said Hawks coach Cindy Griffin. ''With each shot we made, we got more and more confident.''
Erika Ford had 16 points to lead Georgia, which finishes the season at 20-12. Merritt Hempe added 13 points and Krista Donald finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
The Hawks will play either top-seeded UConn or Prairie View A&M in the second round Tuesday.
Saint Joseph's led by eight points at halftime and was up 42-32 early in the second half after a 3-pointer by Robinson.
But the Bulldogs got back into the game with a 14-4 run.
A foul shot by Merritt Hempe tied the game at 46, and a 3-point shot by Tiaria Griffin midway through the half gave Georgia a 50-49 lead.
That was the Lady Bulldogs only lead of the second half.
Hempe fouled on the other end after a made basket by Cloud, giving the ball back to Saint Joseph's. Robinson was then fouled and hit two free throws, part of a 10-0 run that put the Hawks back up by nine.
''During that period, we just dissolved,'' said Georgia coach Andy Landers. ''We didn't defend very well. We didn't go after loose balls or rebound very well.''
A jumper by Cloud made it 65-54 with less than 4 minutes left and Georgia could not mount another challenge.
The Hawks shot 46 percent from the floor and held Georgia to just 34 percent.
Saint Joseph's got off to a quick start, using a 10-4 run to take a 17-9 lead.
Georgia cut the deficit to three points on a jumper by Ford. But the Hawks scored the final five points of the half and took a 38-30 lead into intermission.
Saint Joseph's was one of three Atlantic 10 teams in the tournament and the last one standing. Fordham, the conference tournament champion, lost by a point to California on Saturday. Dayton, the regular-season champion, lost to Florida on Sunday.
Cloud also had four assists Sunday, giving her 237 for the year, just four shy of the school's single-season record.
Florida 83, Dayton 69
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) - Cassie Peoples had so much fun leading Florida to an upset tournament win, she wants to keep the good times rolling.
''We're all focused for game two,'' she said, ''but for games three, four and five. However long we keep going.''
That sounds like a plan for the Gators.
Peoples scored 21 points and all five Florida starters scored in double figures, leading the Gators past Dayton 83-69 Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The 11th-seeded Gators (20-12) will play Penn State on Tuesday night in the Stanford Regional.
In a first round full of lopsided victories by the heavy favorites, the Gators became the 29th 11th-seeded team to win a tournament game. Jaterra Bonds and Ronni Williams each had 15 points for Florida.
''That's not what we came here for, to just beat Dayton,'' Bonds said. ''We came to get that Round 2 win. We want to get to the Sweet 16.''
Andrea Hoover led the Flyers (23-8) with 22 points and Celeste Edwards scored 15 points. Hoover and Edwards helped the Flyers storm to a double-digit lead in the second before Florida started to rally.
The Gators shot 51 percent in the second half to wipe out the deficit and stun Dayton.
The Flyers appeared to put the sting of losing to Fordham in the A-10 tournament championship game behind in a hurry. Hoover and Saicha Allen-Grant hit early 3s in the second half helped push Dayton's lead to 11.
The Gators stormed back and wiped it out with 8:44 left in the half. Peoples scored a layup, Florida forced on a turnover, and Kayla Lewis went inside for a bucket for a 57-56 lead.
Carlie Needles first 3 of the game made it 60-56. The Flyers kept creeping within a bucket of tying the game, only to get pushed back with a score on the other end. Needles, a 5-foot-6 guard who averaged only six points a game this season, swished another 3 for a 67-60 lead that finally gave the Gators the breathing room they needed.
''Carlie hitting the 3s really gave us that confidence to seal the game off,'' Peoples said. ''It really put a dagger in them when Carlie was hitting those 3s. We're all just grateful she still had the confidence to take them after (a slow start).''
Dayton's Celeste Edwards missed a layup that could have made it a three-point game, Florida grabbed the rebound and Needles completed the fastbreak layup for a 69-63 lead.
Hoover, who led Dayton this season in points, assists and 3-point shooting, didn't have enough left for one more rally. She made 4 of 8 3-pointers and chipped in four rebounds.
Hoover hit three 3-pointers and scored 15 points to give Dayton a 32-29 halftime lead. Amber Deane scored 10 of her 15 points in the half and the Flyers shot 52 percent from the floor to build the lead.
The Flyers missed 14 of 20 3-point attempts.
''We went away with what we were doing so well, driving to the basket and getting to the free-throw line,'' Hoover said. ''We kind of settled for jump shots, we were kind of taking bad shots and they got some runouts on the offensive end.''
Even with an at-large bid, the Flyers still earned the highest seed in program history. That wasn't enough to satisfy a program reaching for more.
''We've had trouble all year playing consistently tough in stretches and it bit us really hard today,'' coach Jim Jabir said.
Florida was back in the tournament for the first time since 2012. The Gators managed a fifth-place finish in the rugged SEC even with one of the thinnest rosters of any tournament team. The Gators have played just eight players in all but two games this season, seven against LSU on Jan. 12 and nine against Florida State and Nov. 21. The played only eight on Sunday - and didn't need any more.
Lewis had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Led by Lewis, Florida outrebounded Dayton 41-26.
''Just look at the rebounding difference, look at our size versus them,'' Jabir said. ''That tells you everything you want to know.''
The Gators have no starters taller than 6-foot, yet they are the ones standing tall in the second round.
They'll need to squeeze rebounds out of every inch playing a true road game against Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center.
''All of the energy that's not directed in your favor on someone else's home court, all those things are something I think my team thrives on,'' coach Amanda Butler said.