2021 NCAA women’s basketball tournament: day one highlights

Paige Bueckers #5 of the UConn Huskies huddles with teammates during the second half against the High Point Panthers in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament
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SAN ANTONIO (AP) — UConn did just fine without coach Geno Auriemma, with Paige Bueckers scoring 24 points to lead the top-seeded Huskies to a 102-59 victory over High Point on Sunday night in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

Auriemma tested positive for COVID-19 ahead of the tournament and missed the opener. Associate head coach Chris Dailey filled in for the Hall of Famer, who is also going to miss the second-round game against Syracuse on Tuesday in the River Walk Region.

[RELATED: Not just the weight rooms: disparities at the NCAA women’s basketball tournament (updated)]

Dailey is 11-0 filling in for Auriemma over their time together at UConn (25-1). The Huskies also were missing assistant coach Shea Ralph, who left San Antonio after one of her relatives contracted COVID-19.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa added 22 points.

Skyler Curran led the Panthers (22-7) with 14 points.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM SUNDAY:

SOUTH CAROLINA 79, MERCER 53

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — South Carolina coach Dawn Staley got her 500th career victory when Aliyah Boston and the top-seeded Gamecocks beat Mercer.

Staley is 328-102 in 13 seasons at South Carolina after going 172-80 in eight seasons at Temple.

Boston had 20 points and 18 rebounds for South Carolina (23-4). Victaria Saxton also scored 20 points.

The Gamecocks were national champs in 2017, when the Final Four was last played in Texas. They finished 32-1 last season, spent the final 10 weeks at No. 1 and Staley was the AP coach of the year, but didn’t get a chance to win another title because the NCAA Tournament was canceled because of the pandemic.

The Gamecocks will play Oregon State in the second round.

Amoria Neal-Tysor had 15 points for Mercer (19-7).

BAYLOR 101, JACKSON STATE 52

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Moon Ursin scored a career-high 24 points and second-seeded Baylor routed Jackson State.

All-American NaLyssa Smith added 18 points on 8-of-9 shooting and had 10 rebounds for the Bears (26-2). They will face Virginia Tech in the second round.

Keshuna Luckett led the 15th-seeded Tigers (19-6) with 15 points.

VIRGINIA TECH 70, MARQUETTE 63

SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) — Elizabeth Kitley had 23 points and seventh-seeded Virginia Tech built a big lead and held off 10th-seeded Marquette.

Kitley also had eight rebounds, four assists and three blocks for Virginia Tech (15-9).

Van Kleunen led Marquette (19-7) with 18 points.

TENNESSEE 87, MIDDLE TENNESSEE 62

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Rennia Davis had 24 points and 14 rebounds and No. 3 seed Tennessee used a dominant second half to beat 14th-seeded Middle Tennessee.

Rae Burrell scored 22 points and Jordan Walker had nine points and 14 rebounds for Tennessee (17-7). The Vols outrebounded the Blue Raiders (17-8) 56-21.

Tennessee will face Michigan in the second round.

Anastasia Hayes scored 26 points for Middle Tennessee.

MICHIGAN 87, FLORIDA GULF COAST 66

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Leigha Brown scored 28 points, including 17 straight for sixth-seeded Michigan, and the Wolverines beat 11th-seed Florida Gulf Coast.

Big Ten player of the year Naz Hillmon finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Wolverines (15-5).

Kierstan Bell had 25 points for Florida Gulf Coast (26-3). The Eagles has won 15 in a row.

KENTUCKY 71, IDAHO STATE 63

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Rhyne Howard and Chasity Patterson scored 14 points apiece and fourth-seeded Kentucky beat 13th-seeded Idaho State.

Blair Green added 10 points for the Wildcats (18-8). They will play Iowa in the second round.

Diaba Konate led the Big Sky champion Bengals (22-4) with 16 points.

IOWA 87, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 72

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Freshman Caitlin Clark, the nation’s leading scorer, had 23 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and fifth-seeded Iowa beat 12th-seeded Central Michigan.

[RELATED: Bueckers, Edwards, Clark: Freshmen embrace the lights at the Big Dance]

Monika Czinano also scored 23 points for Iowa (19-9).

Micaela Kelly had 23 points for Central Michigan (18-9).

STANFORD 87, UTAH VALLEY 44

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Kiana Williams scored 20 points while becoming Stanford’s career leader in 3-pointers and the top-seeded Cardinal overwhelmed Utah Valley.

Stanford never trailed after Williams, who made 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, hit a 3 for the first basket in the opening minute and tied the school mark of 295 held by Candice Wiggins. Playing in her hometown and with her parents in the stands, Williams set the record with her second 3 midway through the first quarter to put the Cardinal up 18-3.

Lacie Hull added 12 points for Pac-12 champion Stanford (26-2), the No. 1 overall seed for the first time since 1996. The Cardinals will face Oklahoma State in the second round.

Josie Williams had 18 points for Utah Valley (13-7).

GEORGIA TECH 54, STEPHEN F. AUSTIN 52, OT

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Lorela Cubaj recovered from a scary fall to score 14 points, including the go-ahead free throws in overtime, and fifth-seeded Georgia Tech overcame a 17-point halftime deficit to beat 12th-seeded Stephen F. Austin.

The Yellow Jackets (16-8) will face West Virginia in the second round.

Avery Brittingham had 16 points with 13 rebounds for the Ladyjacks (24-3).

N.C. STATE 79, NORTH CAROLINA A&T 58

SAN MARCOS, Texas (AP) — Jada Boyd scored 15 of her 18 points in the second half and top-seeded North Carolina State overcame a slow start to beat 16th-seeded North Carolina.

N.C. State (21-2) was making its fourth straight tournament appearance and 26th overall, but earned a No. 1 seed for the first time. N.C. State will face South Florida in the second round.

Chanin Scott led NC A&T (14-3) with 23 points.

SOUTH FLORIDA 57, WASHINGTON STATE 53

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Elena Tsineke scored 18 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:32 remaining, to help South Florida beat Washington State.

Tsineke’s driving shot, which came soon after a 3-pointer by Washington State’s Charlisse Leger-Walker, gave the eighth-seeded Bulls (19-3) a 54-53 lead.

Leger-Walker had 19 points for the ninth-seeded Cougars (12-12).

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