Louisville, North Carolina and Florida State Join Duke and Notre Dame in Sweet 16

'Noles and Tar Heels both advance to Greensboro Regional, Cards advance to Sweet 16 for third straight year, Pitt falls to Lady Vols

Louisville Defeats USF 60-52 to Advance to Sweet Sixteen

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Jude Schimmel scored 13 points, Myisha Hines-Allen added 12 and No. 3 seed Louisville reached its third consecutive NCAA Sweet 16 by beating No. 6 seed South Florida 60-52 on Monday night.

Louisville (27-6) will face Dayton in the round of 16.

Courtney Williams had 25 points for South Florida (27-8). It was the 20th time she scored 20 or more this season.

Schimmel had an in-close basket and set up Hines-Allen's layup to put Louisville ahead 50-47 with 2:25 remaining. Bria Smith made it 52-47 with two free throws after a USF turnover.

Williams and Alisia Jenkins made layup during a 6-0 spurt that gave South Florida a 47-46 lead with 5 minutes to play.

Sara Hammond had a basket and Hines-Allen followed with a layup as Louisville took a 34-26 lead 2 1-2 minutes in the second half.

The Bulls scored six consecutive points, keyed by two free throws by Williams after Mariya Moore was given a technical foul after a video review, to get within 37-34 with 13 minutes to play.

Shawnta' Dyer had eight of her 10 points off the bench to help Louisville go up 28-23 at halftime.

Moore and Schimmel both had 3-pointers during an early 10-0 run that put Louis vile ahead 12-2. It was the Cardinals' 75th run this season of 8-0 or larger. Moore finished with 11 points.

South Florida responded with a 12-2 surge, including a pair of 3's by Laura Ferreira, to tie it 14-14 only 7 1-2 minutes in.

Coach Jeff Walz is 20-6 in NCAA Tournament games. The Cardinals have had success previously in advancing when a No. 3 seed, reaching the championship game in 2009 and the Elite Eight last year.

Louisville is making its sixth overall Sweet 16 appearances.

Sweet Seminoles: Noles Race Past FGCU And Into Sweet 16

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.As the seconds ticked down on Florida State’s game against Florida Gulf Coast in the second round of the NCAA tournament, FSU guard Shakena Richardson dribbled across mid-court, stopped and then broke into a wide grin.

With the Seminoles’ 65-47 victory well in hand, Richardson and her teammates had plenty of time to enjoy the moment.

Leticia Romero scored 11 points to go along with seven rebounds and six assists, and Adut Bulgak added nine points and 13 rebounds to push the Seminoles past FGCU and into the Sweet 16 for the third time in program history.

FSU (31-4) returns to Greensboro, N.C., site of the ACC tournament earlier this month, to face either Arizona State or Arkansas-Little Rock in the NCAA Regional Semifinal.

“At the beginning of the year, we didn’t know how good we could be,” FSU coach Sue Semrau said. “So to know we’re advancing to the sweet 16 is really sweet, if you will.

“At the same time, it doesn't feel like enough. That's a good feeling to have.”

The Seminoles used a pair of runs at the beginning of each half to make quick work of the seventh-seeded Eagles.

Bolstered by an announced crowd of 4,772, FSU raced out to a 17-2 lead less than five minutes into the game.

FGCU, meanwhile, appeared flustered by the atmosphere and missed four of its first five field goal attempts and turned the ball over five times in the game’s first five minutes.

“They blitzed us pretty good at the very beginning,” FGCU coach Karl Smesko said. “…Unfortunately, Florida State’s really good.”

The Eagles settled down right around the same time a busload of late-arriving FGCU students made its way into the arena.

FGCU hit a few shots, pushed the pace and went into halftime down only 36-28.

“I was so thankful after the first half that we have the bench that we do,” Semrau said.  “The pace was so fast in the first half.”

But with an upset-minded opponent within striking distance, the Seminoles found another gear to begin the second half.

Led by surges from Romero and Bulgak, Florida State began the last 20 minutes on a 15-5 run that pushed its advantage to 20 points.

And as their deficit grew, the Eagles found shots harder and harder to make. They missed their first 12 field-goal attempts at the start of the second half, and were mired in a 1-for-20 shooting slump that stretched back into the first.

“Shooting a poor percentage against a good team, you’re not going to win,” Smesko said.

So many FGCU misses allowed several opportunities for FSU rebounds. The Seminoles finished with an overwhelming 46-23 advantage on the glass and grabbed 11 offensive boards.

“I had been in a rebounding drought, so I was just running after every board that I could,” said Bulgak, who had 11 of her 13 rebounds in the second half. “Seeing that I only had two rebounds in the first half, that’s not Adut.”

Freshman Shakayla Thomas paced FSU with 12 points, pushing her NCAA tournament total to 29 in two games.

The Seminoles shot 46.3 percent from the field and connected on 5 of 18 3-point attempts.

Smesko in his post-game press conference heaped high praise on the Seminoles, saying that, at times, they look like the second-best team in the country and that they have Final-Four potential.

He didn’t name Connecticut as the nation’s best, but he didn’t have to. With nine national titles and 79 wins in their last 80 contests, the Huskies loom large over women’s college basketball.

But, like UConn, FSU is among the last 16 teams still playing. And they believe that they’re as good as any of them.

“I think I’m on the best team in the country, personally,” Bulgak said. “When we’re at our best, I think we’re really unstoppable.”

UNC Reaches Sweet 16 With Cherry's Buzzer Beater

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Jamie Cherry has been at her best lately with the clock winding down.
She beat another buzzer -- and sent North Carolina back to the Sweet 16.

Cherry's jumper with 0.6 seconds left sent the Tar Heels past Ohio State 86-84 on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

"Taking the big shot, it's a big shot and everybody dreams of hitting the shot," Cherry said. "I just wanted us to move on to the Sweet 16, especially for our seniors. ... I didn't want it to end here for them."

Stephanie Mavunga had a career-high 27 points and 14 rebounds, Allisha Gray added 20 points and Brittany Rountree had 15 for the fourth-seeded Tar Heels (26-8).

They blew a 23-point lead before Cherry's latest big shot sent them into a Greensboro Regional semifinal matchup against top-seeded South Carolina (32-2) on Friday night.

Ameryst Alston had 30 points for the fifth-seeded Buckeyes (24-11), who never led but tied it twice during a frantic final minute -- the last coming when Kelsey Mitchell's free throws made it 84-all with 5.1 seconds left.

"I never thought that we were out of the game," Mitchell said, "but I did think when we buckled down and played defense like we're supposed to, we can make something happen."

The Tar Heels brought in Cherry in place of 6-foot guard N'Dea Bryant because of what coach Sylvia Hatchell called "divine intervention".

"I knew she could make it," Hatchell said.

Gray inbounded to Cherry, who raced down the right sideline through the Ohio State pressure and pulled up for an 18-footer that swished through.

It was the second clutch shot this month for the freshman, who hit a 40-footer at the regulation buzzer to force overtime in an eventual loss to Louisville on March 6 in an Atlantic Coast Conference quarterfinal.

"It was the same feeling," Cherry said. "I still was nervous."

This time, the Buckeyes didn't get a shot off before the horn.

Mitchell, the nation's leading scorer, finished with 25 points and Alexa Hart added 15 points and 10 rebounds for Ohio State.

The Buckeyes spent the entire second half chipping away at the Tar Heels' big lead. Mitchell hit a 3 with 40.4 seconds remaining that made it 82-all -- the first tie since the opening minute.

Latifah Coleman put North Carolina back up with a pull-up jumper with 12 seconds left. Mitchell then drove the lane and was tied up by Mavunga -- who was called for a foul, sending the Ohio State freshman to the line.

Mitchell, who averages 25 points, leads an up-tempo Buckeyes team that ranks fifth nationally with an average of 81 points. They certainly met their match in the Tar Heels -- who have been rebounding and running for Hatchell for almost 30 years.

"I told them at halftime, what did we have, an 18-, 19-point lead at halftime," Hatchell said of a 50-32 score at the break. "That's nothing to this (Ohio State) team. ... They're not going to go away. They're going to come after you."

No. 10 Pitt Falls to No. 2 Tennessee, 77-67

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Bashaara Graves scored 21 points and had 14 rebounds as Tennessee withstood a late rally to defeat Pittsburgh 77-67 in an NCAA Tournament second-round game Monday night.

The second-seeded Lady Vols (29-5) improved to 56-0 in NCAA Tournament home games and advanced to a Spokane Region semifinal Saturday against No. 11 seed Gonzaga (26-7).

Tennessee is the only program to appear in all 34 NCAA Tournaments and has reached the regional semifinals every year but 2009, when it lost to Ball State in the opening round.

After trailing by 14 with 4 1/2 minutes left, Pittsburgh (20-12) cut the lead to 69-65 on Brianna Kiesel's three-point play with 37.8 seconds remaining. Ariel Massengale went 6 of 6 on free throws and made a steal in the final 37 seconds to seal Tennessee's victory.

Kiesel had a career-high 32 points for the 10th-seeded Panthers, who never led. The senior guard scored 24 points in the second half of her final college game.

Tennessee's Cierra Burdick had gone scoreless Saturday in a 72-61 victory over Boise State, though she did have 11 rebounds and five assists. She made the game's first basket Monday and finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Massengale had 16 points and Andraya Carter added 10 for Tennessee, which outrebounded Pittsburgh 46-29. Yacine Diop had 18 points and nine rebounds for Pittsburgh.

Tennessee went on an 11-0 run to take an early 15-4 lead and owned a 35-23 advantage at halftime.

Pittsburgh wouldn't go away. Kiesel made sure of it.

Kiesel scored seven points during a 9-0 run to open the second half, including a driving layup that cut Tennessee's lead to 35-32 with 17:32 left. After Tennessee regained control and built a 14-point lead, Kiesel led one more rally.

But the Panthers couldn't come all the way back.