Rien que de filet!: March Madness in Regional 3 Portland Day 2

Day 2 of the Regional 3 in Portland gave us two close ones for March Madness, a genuine blowout, and a very healthy win which also doubled as quite a nice birthday present.

Jackson State and UConn opened to kick off Regional 3 action

In the first game of the day, the Lady Tigers of Jackson State came to Storrs riding a 22-game winning streak, intent on getting their 23rd. Unfortunately, the trio of Paige Bueckers, Aaliyah Edwards, and Ashlynn Shade had other ideas. It happened to be Geno Auriemma’s birthday, and the Huskies of UConn had no intention of handing him a dud firecracker as a birthday present. Instead, they opened the first quarter smothering Jackson State 22-8, holding them scoreless for over seven minutes, and ending the quarter shooting 3-13.

In the second quarter, Jackson State started to find a little more consistency, which of course inspired UConn to up their production. While Jackson State scored 20 points in the quarter, UConn scored 27, increasing their halftime lead to 21. The second half of the game became a more toe to toe affair, with Jackson State keeping up their energy, but never getting closer than 19 points, which grew to 22 on a last-second trey from Nika Mühl, to which the crowd roared in approval.

The fourth quarter started slowly for both teams. Fouls and turnovers dotted the first couple of minutes until a jumper from Angel Jackson of Jackson State and a layup from Edwards sparked the scoring. Each team scored 14 points in the fourth quarter, but Jackson State’s winning streak came to an end, and UConn took the game 86-64. Statistically, yes, it was a blowout, but Jackson State played hard and never quit during this March Madness matchup.

Jackson State – UConn by the stats

The game had a unique moment when Jackson State’s Miya Crump was called for goaltending on Bueckers’ layup. Not something you often see. UConn played excellent defense, although each team scored well off of turnovers, with Jackson State scoring 13 points off of 15 UConn turnovers, and the Huskies scoring 16 points off of 16 Jackson State turnovers. The Huskies held the Lady Tigers to 32.8% shooting on 21-64. UConn shot 50% on 34-68.

Ti’lan Boler led Jackson State with 25 points, and Angel Jackson scored 13. UConn was led by Bueckers, who scored 28 points, 11 boards, and 7 assists. The freshman Shade scored 26 points, and Edwards added 20 points and 10 boards. A pretty nice birthday gift for the coach. Up next for UConn is Syracuse and Dyaisha Fair, who scored 32 points in their win over Arizona. A tough challenge, as Bueckers and co. will be for the Orange.

An OT Thriller in March Madness with Michigan and Kansas

A surprise ending came in Los Angeles as the Michigan Wolverines took on the Kansas Jayhawks. After a low-scoring first quarter which had Michigan up by one, each team upped their production in the second, and at the half, Michigan was leading 32-29. Michigan built on their lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Jayhawks 21-15. A nine-point lead isn’t much, and Kansas decided they’d had enough. A Michigan layup by Chyra Evans gave the Wolverines a 10-point lead at the 6:07 mark.

Kansas then rattled off six quick points on free throws by S’Mya Nichols, a layup by Taiyanna Jackson, and free throws by Wyvette Mayberry, cutting the Michigan lead to four. After a few traded buckets, Michigan held the four-point lead until Jackson made one of two free throws. Laila Phelia then made a layup, taking the Wolverine lead to five. Jackson followed with a layup.

The score held at 67-64 at 1:55 until Zakiyah Franklin nailed a trey with 12 seconds left, tying the game at 67 all, which is where the quarter ended. In overtime, Kansas took the early lead, and never looked back, outscoring Michigan 14-5 to take the game 81-72. The defense for Kansas was an enormous factor in the overtime victory, getting stops and allowing the offense to make some big plays. For the Wolverines, Cameron Williams led with 18 points, followed by Phelia with 16 and Lauren Hansen with 13.

Franklin led Kansas with 22 points, with Mayberry and S’Mya Nichols each grabbing 15, and Jackson scoring 14. Up next for Kansas are JuJu Watkins and USC. Will Kansas be able to pull off another victory, or will the USC steamroller keep on rolling?

Syracuse versus Arizona in a tight battle throughout

Syracuse met Arizona in Storrs in what was a close and hard-fought game all the way to the end. Arizona took the first quarter 21-15. Syracuse took the second quarter 17-16, with a halftime score of 37-32 in favor of Arizona. In the third quarter, Arizona opened their lead to seven on a pair of free throws by Skylar Jones. Dyaisha Fair then made a trey, closing the Arizona lead to four. Georgia Woolley then hit another three for Syracuse, which was answered by a pair of free throws by Jada Williams.

Arizona is up 41-38. Esmery Martinez added to the Arizona lead with a layup, followed by a free throw from Woolley. A couple of missed shots and a pair of turnovers then led to a Helena Pueyo layup. Arizona is up 45-39. Fair nailed a trey for Syracuse, followed by a layup by Skylar Jones and a layup by Kennedi Perkins. Arizona is up 47-44. Two free throws for Skylar Jones and one for Alaina Rice, Arizona up 49-45.

The score held at 51-49 Arizona until Fair made a layup at 0:17 making it 51-51, which is where the quarter ended. Then, in the fourth quarter, with Arizona up 66-63, Fair proceeded to outscore Arizona 11-3 and take the game 74-69. Aside from the three by Pueyo, Arizona couldn’t find the bucket during the Fair shooting frenzy.

The Wildcats were light on players in this March Madness matchup

Arizona also had only seven players, and while the starters did a decent job, their two bench players were ineffective, and as well as Fair played for Syracuse, the rest of the team did not. Fair’s 32 points led all scorers, with only Alyssa Latham reaching double figures with 10 for Syracuse. Arizona was led by Jones with 24, with Williams and Pueyo each scoring 14.

The disparity in scoring between Fair and the rest of the Syracuse team needs to be addressed for their matchup with UConn on Monday. Not only is it a home game for UConn, but more than just basketball is driving the Huskies right now. I expect this to be a very challenging game on both sides in this March Madness showdown.

USC cruised against Texas A&M – CC by 30+ points

Finally, Texas A&M-CC faced USC in what turned out to be a 32-point blowout. In the first quarter, the Islanders scored the first points at 9:26 on a Mireia Aguado layup, their only lead. They did not score again until Alecia Westbrook made a layup at 0:02. The second quarter by itself was more evenly played, with AMCC taking it 16-15, but the damage had been done.

The Trojans outscored the Islanders 51-35 in the second half, with a final score of 87-55. Is a 23-point, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 4 blocks an “off” game for Watkins? Maybe. She shot 8-18 with 1-6 from deep. However, it didn’t seem to matter, as all the starters contributed, with McKenzie Forbes adding 23, Kayla Padilla scoring 10, and Rayah Marshall also scoring 10 with 11 boards. Aguado scored 15 for AMCC, with Westbrook adding 12.

Is it impossible to beat USC? Not at all. Is it hard to beat USC? Yes. USC has to rely on their starters for the bulk of their minutes. The bench of seven only scored 17 points against AMCC, and that could be a problem down the road. USC will meet a feisty Kansas team on Monday, and while a USC win might be probable, I wouldn’t underestimate Kansas during this March Madness run.

And that, my friends, as they say, is that.’ — Martin Ruben.

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About Martin Ruben

Aloha - The Dodgers were still in Brooklyn when I was a kid. I was never a Yankees fan. I'm a season ticket holder for the Minnesota Lynx, a big UConn WBB fan, and an avid Arsenal supporter. I consider myself a student of basketball. If I were to write an autobiography, it would be called SERIOUS FUN.

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