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Central Michigan stuns Ohio State, earns trip to Spokane

UPDATED: Mon., March 19, 2018, 9:10 p.m.

Central Michigan players celebrate their second-round upset of Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018. (Paul Vernon / Associated Press)
Central Michigan players celebrate their second-round upset of Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, Monday, March 19, 2018. (Paul Vernon / Associated Press)

Cassie Breen threw the ball high in the air as the clock wound down Monday night on the biggest victory in Central Michigan women’s basketball history. Seconds later her joyous teammates and coaches were falling into each other’s arms.

Presley Hudson scored 28 points and the No. 11 Chippewas hit a season-high 14 3-pointers in stunning No. 3 Ohio State 95-78 in Columbus, Ohio, on Monday night to earn the school’s first trip to the Sweet 16.

Central Michigan (30-4) had won its first tournament game in Saturday’s first-round upset of No. 6 Louisiana State. With the improbable rout of streaking Ohio State, the Chippewas advance to face No. 2 Oregon in Spokane on Saturday. Notre Dame will play Texas A&M in the other game at the Arena.

“We’re living the life right now,” Breen said. “We’re on the highest frequency, and we just want to keep it there. We want to celebrate with everybody.”

Central Michigan out-rebounded and out-hustled Ohio State, played taut defense and kept the Buckeyes at bay late in the game.

The Chippewas got plenty of help in the upset from the error-prone Buckeyes, who fell behind in the first half and then were run over by momentum and couldn’t climb back in. Central Michigan led by as much as 23 points in the second half as Ohio State struggled to put together a run that would shift the tide.

“I think it was more mentally when things weren’t going our way, we didn’t respond to that adversity like we have, and those were the times Central Michigan really made us pay,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said.

All-American guard Kelsey Mitchell led Ohio State (28-7) with 28 points but hit just 11 of her 29 shots from the floor. Mitchell ended her storied career as the second-leading scorer in NCAA history, but it was wasted as the Buckeyes were denied their third straight trip to the Sweet 16. Mitchell passed Jackie Stiles on Monday and finished with 3,402 points.

“We lost,” said an emotional Mitchell when asked about the feat. “That’s all I can say.”

Breen had 22 points, and Tinara Moore added 20 points and 10 rebounds in Central Michigan’s balanced attack. The team hit 14 of 27 3-point tries, including Breen’s 5 for 9.

“This team will not fold,” Chippewas coach Sue Guevara said. “This team is very tough, this team is very focused. We know what we had to do and we went out and did it.”

Stephanie Mavunga had 16 points and 15 rebounds, and Linnae Harper added 14 points for Ohio State (28-7).

Lexington Region

(4) Stanford 90, (12) Florida Gulf Coast 70: Alanna Smith scored 28 points with four 3-pointers, Brittany McPhee added 17 points and nine rebounds and the Cardinal (24-10) defeated the Eagles (31-5) in Stanford, California.

Florida Gulf Coast (31-5) set the single-season 3-point record with 431, breaking Sacramento State’s mark of 424 from 2014-15, but didn’t have the depth or talent to keep up against a taller Stanford team that made it hard for the Eagles to do their signature move: drive and dish.

China Dow scored 23 points, all in the second half, to lead the Eagles.

Stanford will play Louisville on Friday.

Albany Region

(1) Connecticut 71, (9) Quinnipiac 46: Napheesa Collier scored 23 points and the Huskies (34-0) defeated their in-state neighbors the Bobcats (28-6) in Storrs, Connecticut, to advance to a 25th straight Sweet 16.

Azura Stevens added 14 points and Kia Nurse chipped in with 13 for the Huskies.

Jen Fay had 12 points to lead the ninth-seeded Bobcats, who saw their school-record 23-game winning streak snapped.

(5) Duke 66, (4) Georgia 40: Leaonna Odom scored 16 points and the Blue Devils’ defense was dominant, holding the Lady Bulldogs (26-7) to two second-quarter points in a win at Athens, Georgia.

Lexie Brown and Erin Mathias each had 14 points for Duke (24-8), which will play UConn in the Albany Regional on Saturday.

(11) Buffalo 86, (3) Florida State 65: Cierra Dillard scored 22 points and the Bulls (29-5) shocked the Seminoles (26-7) on their home court to advance to the Sweet 16 for the first time in school history.

The Bulls, who were one of the last four to earn an at-large berth in the 64-team field, shot 47.4 percent from the field and went 24 of 26 from the foul line. They also held the Seminoles to 3 of 25 on 3-pointers and 33.8 percent from the field.

Buffalo will play South Carolina on Saturday.

Kansas City Region

(1) Mississippi State 71, (9) Oklahoma State 56: Victoria Vivians scored 23 points, Teaira McCowan added 21 points and 18 rebounds and the Bulldogs (34-1) defeated the Cowgirls (21-11) in Starkville, Mississippi.

Top-seeded Mississippi State (34-1) also got 17 points from Morgan William, who hit several crucial baskets throughout the game. McCowan scored 17 of her 21 points in the second half and shot 8 of 12 from the field.

(2) Texas 85, (7) Arizona State 65: Lashann Higgs scored 19 points and Brooke McCarty scored 15 as the Longhorns (28-6) booked their fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 with a win over the Sun Devils (22-13) in Austin, Texas.

Higgs scored 15 in the first half, and McCarty took over in the third quarter with 10 points in a 14-2 run that pushed the Longhorns to a big lead and never let the Sun Devils recover.

(3) UCLA 86, (11) Creighton 64: Jordin Canada scored 21 points and Japreece Dean added 16 points to lead the Bruins (26-7) over the Bluejays (19-13) in Los Angeles.

UCLA reaches the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year and will face Texas on Friday.

Audrey Faber led Creighton with 20 points and Olivia Elger added 13 for the Bluejays.


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