NCAA women's Tournament: Howard tops Incarnate Word in First Four game; Dayton downs DePaul

The Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Brooklynn Fort-Davis had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Krislyn Marsh added 14 points and 17 rebounds and Howard beat fellow No. 16 seed Incarnate Word 55-51 on Wednesday night in the first women’s First Four game.

Howard (21-9), in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2001, advanced to play overall No. 1 seed South Carolina (29-2) in the Greensboro Region.

Iyanna Warren made a floater in the lane and followed with a long jumper on Howard’s next possession to extend the lead to 47-42 with 4:53 left.

Fort-Davis ended Howard’s three-minute scoreless stretch with a shot under the basket for a 49-46 lead with 1:20 remaining. She added a basket at 43 seconds and a free throw with 35.8 left for a four-point lead. Kaniyah Harris gave Howard a seven-point lead in the closing seconds before Destiny Jenkins beat the final buzzer with a long 3-pointer.

Howard forward Krislyn Marsh (32) drives against Incarnate Word guard Myra Bell (11) during Wednesday's NCAA Tournament First Four game.

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Destiny Howell, the MEAC tournament most outstanding player, picked up two fouls in the first quarter and played just nine minutes in the first half before finishing the game with 11 points for Howard. The Bison shot just 30.9% from the field, but held a 53-34 advantage on the glass.

Tiana Gardner scored 16 points for Incarnate Word (13-17) in the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance. Jaaucklyn Moore, who led the Southland Conference at 17.6 points per game, added 14 points. Chloe Storer beat the third-quarter buzzer with a long 3-pointers, following an offensive rebound, to give Incarnate Word a 38-35 lead.

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Howard missed 14 straight shots in the first half, going six-plus minutes without a point, before Fort-Davis’ putback ended the field-goal drought to get within 22-19. Howard shot just 28.6% in the first half, including 1 of 12 from 3-point range, but outrebounded Incarnate Word 27-15 to stay within 28-26 at the break.

Howell gave Howard its first lead, 35-33, since it was 17-15 with a steal and fast-break layup to snap her string of 10 straight misses with 1:36 left in the third quarter.

Howard and Incarnate Word are two of the four automatic qualifiers in the First Four games, after winning conference tournaments, as he NCAA expanded the tournament field to 68 teams.

Dayton defeats DePaul in First Four

AMES, Iowa – Erin Whalen scored a career-high 28 points, hitting seven of Dayton’s 13 3-pointers and the 11th-seeded Flyers eased past DePaul 88-57 on Wednesday night in the inaugural women’s First Four.

Dayton (26-5), making its 10th NCAA Tournament appearance, advanced to play No. 6 seed Georgia on Friday in the Greensboro Region.

Jenna Giacone scored 19 of her 21 points in a dominate first half for the Flyers.

Dayton made 11 of 13 3-pointers in the first half while holding DePaul, the nation’s scoring leader at 88.3 points a game, to just 11 of 37 from the field. Whalen made Dayton’s eighth straight 3-pointer of the first half for a 46-27 lead. The Flyers entered averaging 5.9 3-pointers per game.

Whalen and Giacone combined for three 3-pointers during a 9-0 run in the first quarter and they added five 3-pointers in the opening seven minutes of the second quarter. Whalen and Giacone scored 19 straight Dayton points in the second quarter before a Makira Cook basket gave the Flyers a 19-point lead with 1:41 left.

Giacone made all four of her 3-point attempts in the first half and 6 of 8 shots overall. Whalen added 17 points and Cook had 14 to help Dayton build a 55-32 lead at the break.

Cook finished with 16 points and Tenin Magassa had eight points, 14 rebounds and seven of Dayton’s season-high 15 blocks. Giacone added five blocks. The Flyers, the Atlantic 10 regular-season champs, held opponents to 54.7 points a game this season.

DePaul shot just 27.1%.

Star freshman Aneesah Morrow had 28 points and 17 rebounds for her nation-leading 27th double-double of the season in 33 games for DePaul (22-11). Lexi Held added nine points for the Blue Demons, who had just eight players available.