March Madness: South Dakota knocks out No. 2 Baylor, becomes second No. 10 seed in Sweet 16
Another Final Four favorite is out of the NCAA women's tournament field before the second weekend.
No. 10 South Dakota knocked out No. 2 Baylor, 61-47, on the Bears' home court to advance to the Wichita region semifinal. It's the Coyotes' first Sweet 16 berth and was barely in doubt after a 16-4 lead through one quarter.
The Coyotes (29-5), who took down No. 7 Ole Miss in the first round, have not trailed in the tournament. They join Creighton, the 10 seed in the Greensboro region, in upending No. 2 seeds. Creighton also used 3-pointers and stiff defense to defeat No. 2 Iowa earlier Sunday. They are the fourth and fifth No. 10 seeds in NCAA history to reach the Sweet 16.
No. 2 Texas dominated in a win against seventh-seeded Utah to reach the Spokane regional semifinal and UConn will play No. 7 seed UCF on Monday night in the Bridgeport region.
Baylor (28-7) trailed by double digits for much of the contest and lacked urgency in the final three minutes after they came within seven. The streak of consecutive Sweet 16 berths ends at 12 for the Bears. It's their first season under head coach Nicki Collen, who took over for legendary Bears leader Kim Mulkey.
South Dakota controls from tip
South Dakota stormed out to an 11-0 lead hitting its first four shots — three from behind the arc — while the Bears turned it over 10 times. Baylor never caught up and scored a season-low four points in the first quarter. South Dakota led by 12 at the break and kept the same distance at half, 34-23.
Chloe Lamb hits a 3️⃣ to extend the Coyotes run to 11-0. #MarchMadness x @SDCoyotesWBB pic.twitter.com/W52oYVTEjb
— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessWBB) March 20, 2022
The Coyotes 'offense hit half of their 16 3-pointers and not even a cold stretch through the fourth could end their March. The Summit League champions were led by a balanced attack from their "super" senior starters.
Center Hannah Sjerven scored a team-high 16 points and had four of South Dakota's 10 steals. She added four rebounds and a block. Chloe Lamb added 15 points and was 3-of-6 from behind the arc. She added four rebounds, two assists and two steals. And Liv Korngable had 11 with a team-high five assists, two rebounds and a steal.
Baylor won the battle on the boards, 40-32, but it was the key defensive rebounds in the backend of the fourth quarter that helped South Dakota withstand the offensive drought. It had 10 steals to Baylor's four and had five fewer turnovers.
Baylor's offense struggles
Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith, the projected No. 1 WNBA pick by many, neared a double-double, but was not as effective as usual. She had 10 points (4-of-10) with eight rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block. She averaged 22.4 points and 11.6 rebounds, and heated up in the backend of the season as she worked her way into the national Player of the Year discussion.
Queen Egbo led the Bears with 13 points and was the most efficient (6-of-7). Baylor was 17-of-54 (31.5%), a mark that dropped to 23% when Egbo's stats are taken out. No one outside of Egbo and Smith shot better than 30% and only Sarah Andrews hit more than two 3-pointers. They were 5-of-26 (19.2%).
From the tip, Baylor looked out of sorts and couldn't find any answer. It was a five-point game midway through the second quarter. Point guard Jordan Lewis hit a 3 that cut the deficit to four at 2:45 of the second only to have Sjerven answer with her own on an assist by Korngable. The closest Baylor came again was seven on an Andrews layup.
Wild Wichita region lives up to the hype
The Wichita region appeared the least likely to go chalk. That was mostly because of the uncertainty around the top four seeds. Louisville is the weakest 1-seed and was surrounded by teams that experienced roller coaster seasons.
It lived up to the hype, though all four of the top seeds made it out of the first round. All four of them faced teams that upset higher-seeded ones. South Dakota will face the winner of Monday's matchup between No. 11 Villanova and No. 3 Michigan. On the other side of the bracket is No. 12 Belmont vs. No. 4 Tennessee and No. 1 Louisville vs. No. 9 Gonzaga.
South Dakota's win Sunday is the eighth by a double-digit seed in the 2022 NCAA tournament with more opportunities to come Monday as the second round concludes.