Women's Basketball 2017 NCAA Tournament Lexington Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns

Lexington Region Round of 32 Game Breakdowns
#1 Notre Dame vs. #9 Purdue
Not surprisingly, Notre Dame cruised past Robert Morris 79-49. The Irish had four players score between 13 and 15 points and Coach Muffet McGraw did not have to push her star players in the first round. Purdue came out strong early against Green Bay and jumped out to a 21-9 lead at the end of the first quarter and was able to hold off any Phoenix comeback attempt.
Ashley Morrissette scored 24 points for Purdue and the Boilermakers will need her to have a huge game if they hope to upset Notre Dame. But this is a Purdue team that won the Big Ten tournament with their defense and containing Notre Dame’s trio of big time scoring threats will be even more important. Marina Mabrey, Arike Ogunbowale and Brianna Turner provide Notre Dame with a lot of ways to score and Lindsay Allen will set them up. Purdue is on a roll right now, but the Irish offense will likely be too much and Notre Dame will advance to the Sweet 16.
#4 Kentucky vs. #5 Ohio State
Both Kentucky and Ohio State gave the fans in Lexington a much closer game than they expected. The Wildcats snuck past a feisty Belmont squad 73-70, while the Buckeyes beat Western Kentucky 70-63. For Kentucky it was once again the inside presence of Evelyn Akhator and the outside shooting of Makyla Epps that saved the day. Those two combined for 52 points. Ohio State had a more balanced scoring attack, but Kelsey Mitchell was held to just 15 points.
This should be a high scoring game. The Buckeyes are the third highest scoring team in the country and Kentucky can put up some points too. The key to this game will be overcoming the disappointment of the first round. For Kentucky, a couple players beside Akhator and Epps will need to do some scoring. Maci Morris scored 15 in the first round, but the rest of the team combined for just six points. For the Buckeyes, Mitchell will need to shoot better after going 5-of-15 from the floor on Friday. She was averaging 23.0 points per game coming into the tournament and now that the competition is getting tougher, it is Mitchell’s time to shine.
North Carolina State had a great performance against Auburn in the first round. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Wolfpack allowed Auburn to score just 23 points. With another defensive performance like that, N.C. State can pull off an upset against Texas. The Longhorns had a pretty easy game against Central Arkansas in a 78-50 victory. Coach Karen Aston had an opportunity to play a lot of her bench and 11 players saw at least 11 minutes of action.
Rebounding could make the difference in this game. The Longhorns are very good on the glass, led by Joyner Holmes and Kelsey Lang. That is a lot of size for the Wolfpack to deal with and the pressure will be on Chelsea Nelson and Jennifer Mathurin to be tough on the glass and defensively. N.C. State will also need their frontcourt depth, most notably Akela Maize, to play well. If not, Texas will cruise on their home floor.
Stanford was down seven at halftime to 15 seed New Mexico State. They had to fight hard to pull off the 72-64 victory and avoid the huge upset. The Cardinal got a surprising 19 points and 11 rebounds from reserve forward Alanna Smith. Kansas State used their size to take care of Drake. The Wildcats went inside to 6-5 center Breanna Lewis early and often and she ended up with 23 points and 11 rebounds.
Kansas State will not have as easy of a time dominating the paint against Stanford. The Cardinal has the size and toughness to make somebody else beat them. But with the Stanford defense, it will be tough for the scorers in the backcourt, most notably Kindred Wesemann and Karyla Middlebrook, to get open looks. One thing playing in K-State’s favor is that this game is in Manhattan, Kansas. They are the only seven seed that has that luxury, but they better hope Karlie Samuelson, Brittany McPhee and Erica McCall have another less than stellar day.