NCAA Women’s basketball tournament recaps from Bloomington

Sara Scalia leads #4 Indiana over #13 Fairfield in the NCAA Tournament First Round
By Nick Jenkinson/Excel H Sports

   The #4 Seed Indiana Hoosiers pulled away in the second half to hand the #13 seed Fairfield Stags their second loss and end their season 89-56 on Saturday in the First Round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Saturday Afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  Indiana 25-5 will advance to Monday’s Night’s Second Round. Fairfield snaps a 29-game winning streak and ends their season with a 31-2 Record. Indiana is 2-1 all-time against Fairfield including a 2-0 record against the Stags in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers are 5-0 in the first round in the NCAA Tournament under Head Coach Teri Moren after going 1-3 in the first round in four appearances prior to Teri Moren’s time at Indiana.

   Sara Scalia led the Hoosiers with 27 points and hit five three pointers to extend her school record for most three pointers in a single season with 100. Mackenize Holmes, Chloe Moore-McNeil and Yarden Garzon all scored 13 points apiece. Sydney Parrish and Lexus Bargesser scored 7 points each. Lilly Meister scored 4 points, Lenee Beaumont added 3 points and 2 points from Juliana La Mendola. Henna Sandvik and Arielle Wisne played but did not score. The Hoosiers finished the game 31-61 for from the field, 10-26 from three-point range for 38% and 17-22 from the free throw line for 77%. The Hoosiers pulled down 45 rebounds, dished out 25 assists, 5 steals, 10 blocks and committed 13 turnovers.

    Janelle Brown led the Stags with 19 points and Meghan Andersen added 10 points. Fairfield finished 21-66 from the field for 31%, 11-33 from three-point range and 3-4 from the free throw line for 75%. The Stags pulled down 29 rebounds, dished out 14 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks and committed 12 turnovers. The Stags were playing in front of one of the biggest crowds they have played in front of, and Jenelle Brown acknowledged that it played a factor. “The atmosphere was hard to compete against and it was hard to heard plays and coach” Jenelle Brown Said after the game. Brown added “This loss was a lesson, but to be a champion you have to learn from it”.

   The Game started out fast as Jenelle Brown score the first five points for the Stags as both teams were driving inside as neither team was able to stop the drive in the first quarter as the Hoosiers led 20-17 at the end of the first quarter. Fairfield went on a 7-0 run in the second quarter to lead 29-24 with 5:18 left in the second quarter before Chloe Moore-McNeil ended the drought to make it 29-26. Fairfield extended the lead 31-26 when Meghan Andersen scored with 4:47 Left. The Hoosiers went on a 10-0 run to up five points with 55 seconds left before the break to make 36-31 as the Hoosiers led 38-34 at halftime.

    In the third quarter teams were trading three-point buckets as the teams combined for six three pointers as Indiana outscored Fairfield 26-15 at the end of the third quarter with the Hoosiers leading 64-49. Fairfield’s Emina Selimovic hit back-to-back threes and was feeling confident after draining the second three, but Indiana closed out in the fourth quarter with a 25-7 run as the Hoosiers held Jenelle Brown to seven second half points after scoring 14 in the second half.

   Fairfield Head Coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis was an assistant coach when Sara Scalia played at Minnesota, and she has seen her game improve and evolve in the last two years that Scalia has transferred to Indiana from Minnesota. “Sara is an incredible person and player, and she continues to grow and always improving her game” Thibault-DuDonis said after the game.  She added “As much as we wanted to stop her, she is just that good and she led Indiana to this win”.  Fairfield returns most of their team back for next season and with Coach Carly Thibault-DuDonis signing a three-year contract extension a couple days ago she will have this team back in the NCAA Tournament next season.


#5 Oklahoma holds off #12 Florida Gulf Coast to Face Indiana on Monday
By Nick Jenkinson/Excel H Sports
    The #5 Seed Oklahoma Sooners held off the #12 Florida Gulf Coast Eagles 73-70 in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament Albany Regional 1 First Round at Simon Sjkodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington on Saturday Afternoon. Oklahoma 23-9 advances to Monday Night’s Second round game against Indiana with a game time and television designation to be announced after second round games have completed. Florida Gulf Coast finishes the season with a 29-5 record.
    Skylar Vann led Oklahoma with 24 points, Sahara Williams added 14 points along with 11 points from Payton Verhulst. Oklahoma finished the game shooting 44% from the field going 25-56, 6-18 from three-point range for 33% and 17-22 from the free throw line for 77%. The Sooners pulled down 34 rebounds, 19 assists, 6 steals, 3 blocks and committed 13 turnovers.
Florida Gulf Coast was led by Emani Jefferson with 22 points and 12 rebounds. Brylee Bartram added 14 points and Dolly Carins scored 10 points. The Eagles were 25-67 from the field for 37%, 11-30 from three-point range for 30% and 9-15 from the free throw line for 60%. Florida Gulf Coast pulled down 35 Rebounds, 12 assists, 8 steals, 4 blocks and committed 12 turnovers.
   Oklahoma was handed an administrative technical foul for not having their starting lineup turned in on time. The Eagles jumped out a 25-15 first quarter and were drilling three pointers and throwing Oklahoma their game a little bit. Oklahoma outscored Florida Gulf Coast 18-10 in the second quarter as the Eagles led 35-33 going into the locker room at halftime. Oklahoma responded in the second half outscoring Florida Gulf Coast 40-35 as the Sooners got to the line hitting more free throws than the Eagles attempted. Oklahoma led 53-50 at the end of the third quarter. Both teams scored 20 fourth quarter points as the game went down to the wire. The game was tied at 70-70 when Payton Verhulst hit a jumper with 50 seconds left to make it 72-70. Florida Gulf Coast had to play the foul game and Sklyar Vann hit a free throw to make it 73-70 with 16 seconds left. The Eagles missed two three pointers in the final seconds as Sooners move on.
   “If this game is not sold out on Monday, I hope that fans that are not rooting for Indiana will buy the remaining tickets and root for us”. Oklahoma Head Coach Jennie Barancyzk said after the game. Oklahoma is used to playing in front of huge crowds in the Big 12 with Texas, Iowa State and Kansas State. But the Sooners would want to be playing in front of big crowds like this. “We know that this will be a tough environment on Monday and were used to playing front of hostile crowds in the Big 12” Oklahoma Payton Verhulst Said after the game. “We rather be playing in front of big crowds then no fans and having everybody rooting against us” Verhulst added.
  Barancyzk and Moren are no stranger to each other when they faced off in the Missouri Valley at Drake and Indiana State respectably. “Teri has done a great job building up this program and have incredible support” Barancyzk Said. “You don’t want to face her, but anything can happen at any time especially in March and we have to be ready for Monday”. This will be the first ever meeting between Indiana and Oklahoma although the two teams played in the Fort Myers Tip-Off Tournament in Florida at Thanksgiving with Indiana winning both games against Tennessee and Princeton and Oklahoma falling against the Lady Vols and the Tigers. Coach Barancyzk said that they did not scout Indiana at the time just focusing on the teams that they were playing but know they are facing a tough challenge and big crowd on Monday.

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