Tahlequah Daily Press

Sports

March 26, 2013

Kansas women beat South Carolina to return to Sweet 16

Sequoyah alum Angel Goodrich carries No. 12 Jayhawks to rare NCAA tournament feat.

BOULDER, Colo. — Senior Monica Engelman scored a career-high 27 points and Kansas became just the second No. 12 seed to advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA tournament with a 75-69 upset of fourth-seeded South Carolina on Monday night.

Sequoyah alum, Angel Goodrich, added 20 points for the Jayhawks (20-13), who joined San Francisco in 1996 as the only No. 12 seeds to follow up a win in the opening round with another in the second. No. 12 seeds are now 2-15 in the second round since the women’s field was expanded to 64 teams in 1994.

Fourth-seeded South Carolina (25-8) was denied in its quest for its 26th win, which would have been the program’s most since joining the Southeastern Conference in 1991-92.

Instead, it’s Kansas, which lost seven of its last 11 games before the tournament. The Jayhawks move on to Norfolk, Va., where they face the winner of Tuesday’s game between Notre Dame and Iowa in the regional semifinals Sunday.

Kansas, which has won four straight games at the Coors Events Center, is returning to the round of 16 after getting there last year as an 11 seed.

Ashley Bruner and Aleighsa Welch each scored 16 points for the Gamecocks.

Bruner’s bucket with 2:52 left tied it at 69, but South Carolina didn’t score again.

The Gamecocks came in allowing just 49.5 points a game and only four teams had reached 60 against them, but the Jayhawks made it five as the first meeting between the schools was an instant classic.

Goodrich’s four-point play capped a 9-2 run that gave the Jayhawks their biggest lead to that point at 59-52 with 12 1/2 minutes remaining.

The Gamecocks scored the next seven points to tie it up before Engelman sank a jumper and then a layup.

Kansas center Carolyn Davis limped off the court, favoring her left leg, after picking up her fourth foul with 6:40 left. A trainer took off her brace that protects the knee she injured last year, missing the NCAA tournament. Welch sank both free throws to tie it at 65.

It was 67-all when Davis returned with 3:50 remaining. She quickly denied Bruner’s jumper, and her bucket with 2:30 left put Kansas ahead for good at 71-69.

Chelsea Gardner’s free throw made it 72-69, and after several chances, the Gamecocks came up empty when Bruner missed two free throws with 1:17 left.

Iseasia Walker missed a 3-pointer that would have tied it with less than a half-minute remaining and Kansas sealed the win at the free throw line.

Engelman had 18 points — double her average — by halftime.

The Gamecocks used a 10-0 run to take a 28-21 lead. Bruner hit Khadijah Sessions with a long pass for a fastbreak basket and then muscled her way through the lane for two points herself. The next time downcourt, Bruner hit a jumper that rolled around the rim like a putt which lips around the cup before dropping.

Instead of a wide-mouthed fist pump like golf’s No. 1 player, Bruner celebrated with an ever-so-slight smile as she retreated to square up on defense.

Engelman, though, kept the Jayhawks from falling too far behind. She swished a jumper to end South Carolina’s streak, then added big basket and after big basket.

Engelman’s previous career high was 26 points on Feb. 13 against TCU.

With spring break started and the Buffs already eliminated, a sparse crowd was on hand, but many Colorado fans came out and many rooted against the Jayhawks, their former foe from the Big 12, evening up the cheering sections.

Colorado coach Linda Lappe, whose fifth-seeded Buffs were beaten by Kansas 67-52 in their first NCAA appearance in nine years Saturday night, sent an email to all-session ticket holders Monday imploring them to still come to the game.

“Though we won’t be playing, I trust you will continue your outstanding support of this tournament and you will demonstrate CU spirit at tonight’s second round game featuring South Carolina and Kansas,” she wrote. “It is important that we all continue to support the tournament so that we can be awarded this opportunity again.”

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