All Scores

NCAA Tournament bracket busters: Keys to Ole Miss, Miami upsets

Destiny Harden celebrates after hitting the game-winner to send No. 9 Miami to the Sweet 16. (Jeffrey Brown/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Chaos was the theme of Sunday and Monday’s Round of 32 matchups, with Ole Miss topping No. 1 Stanford, Miami beating No. 1 Indiana and Colorado taking down No. 3 Duke in the NCAA Tournament.

Here’s how each of those underdogs got it done, and what their chances are as the bracket turns to the Sweet 16.

(8) Ole Miss 54, (1) Stanford 49

The Rebels got the upset party started by defeating Stanford 54-49 on Sunday, and they did it with defense. Stanford never led and only tied the game once when Cameron Brink hit two free throws with 1:16 left to play, evening the score at 49. Ole Miss controlled the game by never letting Stanford get comfortable. The Cardinal turned the ball over 21 times, their second-highest mark of the season, including three turnovers in the final 21 seconds. Those last few possessions were crucial to securing the victory, but Ole Miss kept the pressure on all game.

The game also marked Stanford’s second-lowest points total of the season (before that, they recorded their fewest points and most turnovers in a loss to USC on Jan 15). Ole Miss also held Stanford to 32.7 percent shooting from the field and just 28.6 percent from the 3-point line. That 3-point defense has been the Rebels’ calling card all season, with the team holding opponents to 24.8 percent from beyond the arc. They did it to the extreme in the first round, limiting Gonzaga — who typically shoot an NCAA-best 40.5 percent from 3 — to a 1-for-17 performance.

As Ole Miss contested every shot, the Cardinal struggled to share the scoring load, with only Brink and Haley Jones reaching double figures. The Rebels’ high-pressure defense combined with timely 3-point shooting (5-for-11) allowed them to secure the upset.

Going forward

The Rebels take on Louisville in the Sweet 16 (Friday, 10 p.m. ET) and will rely on the same defensive formula. The Cardinals have skilled, experienced guards who should be able to handle the pressure, whereas Stanford’s primary ball-handler was freshman Telana Lepolo. Still, Ole Miss will be a hard out for anyone in the tournament since they are capable of rattling even the most experienced players. Louisville will have to control the ball and the tempo, while also limiting Ole Miss’ talented guard duo of Marquesha Davis and Angel Baker.

(9) Miami 70, (1) Indiana 68

The Hurricanes’ upset of Indiana was perhaps even bigger than Ole Miss’ win over Stanford. Here’s why: Ole Miss had to create extreme circumstances in which the Cardinal turned the ball over and couldn’t hit a shot in order to win. Miami, meanwhile, just did everything better than Indiana.

All season, the Hoosiers have been known for their post play thanks to the dominance of Mackenzie Holmes. The senior averaged 22.3 points per game while shooting an efficient 68 percent from the field. Holmes racked up 22 points in this game, but Miami still found away to exploit Indiana in the paint — on the other end of the floor. Lola Pendande (6-4) and Destiny Harden (6-0) overpowered the Hoosiers defense, finding a mismatch in whichever player Holmes wasn’t guarding. It allowed them to score 19 and 18 points, respectively.

In the backcourt, Miami also found a way to score when Indiana was not. The Hurricanes forced just seven turnovers, but they did keep the Hoosiers guards uncomfortable. They limited Yarden Garzon to 10 points, Chloe Moore-Mcneil to nine and Sydney Parrish to four. Meanwhile, Grace Berger scored 17 points, but did so on 6-for-16 shooting from the floor.

Going forward

Miami will be able to attack the paint in a similar way against Villanova (Friday, 2:30 p.m. ET), as the Wildcats don’t have size inside to defend Pendande and Harden. Sophomore forward Christina Dalce is their tallest starter at 6-foot-2, while Maddy Siegrist is next at 6-1. On defense, don’t expect the Hurricanes to stop Siegrist, a dynamic scorer who is averaging an NCAA-leading 29.2 points per game. But if Miami can limit the rest of Villanova’s lineup, then the Hurricanes will have a good chance at a victory. After that, things would get tougher, as No. 3 LSU or No. 2 Utah awaits the victor.

(6) Colorado 61, (3) Duke 53

A 6-seed over a 3-seed isn’t as big of an upset as a 9 or an 8 over a 1, but Colorado’s accomplishment is still a big deal, mainly because many experts across the country had the Buffs losing to Middle Tennessee in the first round. Instead, they beat Middle Tennessee and then topped one of the ACC’s best teams in Duke.

Duke’s Celeste Taylor was the best defender on the floor, finishing with 10 steals, 10 rebounds, eight assists and eight points. But as a team, Colorado got the better of the Blue Devils defensively. In the overtime win, the Buffs held Duke to 31.7 percent shooting from the floor and 21.7 percent from the 3-point line.

On offense, Colorado had a major advantage with Quay Miller and Aaronette Vonleh. No one on Duke’s roster could handle Vonleh’s pure strength on the inside, leading to 12 points. The Blue Devils also didn’t have an answer for Miller, who at 6-3 can play inside or outside, creating a mismatch for whoever is guarding her. Miller finished with 17 points, 14 rebounds and three assists in the win.

Going forward

Next up for the Buffs is Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET). While Clark will undeniably be the best player on the floor, the Buffs can exploit the same matchup they did against Duke. Iowa will struggle to find a defensive game plan for Miller, and Iowa’s secondary scorer, Monika Czinano, will face an even tougher challenge against Vohleh and Miller on the inside. If Colorado is to win this game, they won’t do it by stopping Clark. Instead, they have to limit the rest of the Hawkeyes while exploiting their own defensive matchups.

Eden Laase is a Staff Writer at Just Women’s Sports. Follow her on Twitter @eden_laase.

2023 MVP Breanna Stewart Drops 31 Points in Liberty’s Huge Win Over Fever

breanna stewart and jonquel jones of the new york liberty celebrate win over indiana fever
Stewie and the Liberty dominated the court throughout Thursday's Fever home opener. (Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

The New York Liberty dominated Indiana on Thursday night, winning by a whopping 36 points in the Fever's home opener. 

A sold-out crowd of 17,274 was in attendance to watch as star rookie Caitlin Clark finished the 102-66 defeat with nine points, seven rebounds, and six assists. It’s the first time since January 2021 — her freshman season at Iowa — that Clark's been held to single-digit scoring. 

"The physicality is definitely up there... I'm easily pushed off screens," she told reporters after the loss. "The game seems a little fast for me right now. The more I play and the more comfortable I get, it's going to slow down a little bit. It will be easier for me to make reads, see things develop."

The Fever were outscored by a combined margin of 57 points in their first two games — the largest two-game point deficit in WNBA season-opening history, according to @ESPNStatsInfo.

"We've got to get to a level of toughness," Fever coach Christie Sides in her own postgame remarks. "When things are going south on us, we're not stopping the bleeding."

"I have great perspective on everything that happens," Clark added. "It was the same in my college career. There were some moments that were absolutely amazing. And there were some moments I was not happy with how I played and how my team performed. That's just life, that's just basketball."

Liberty guard Sabrina Ionescu, who herself experienced a rocky rookie season following a much-hyped college career, offered up some insight on the matter.

"In this league, there are tough defenses all centered around not letting you get the ball, trapping, not letting you score," Ionescu said. "There were many factors that played into what was a tough first season for me in the league, but it helps you be able to figure it out. You have to have those experiences."

But it was reigning league MVP Breanna Stewart that truly stole the show, racking up 31 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, three steals, and two blocks on the night.

"In general, I just wanted to come out more aggressive coming off of last game," Stewart said after putting up the 24th 30-point game in her career.

Stewart she also commended the fans inside Indianapolis's packed Gainbridge Fieldhouse, noting that she hopes that level of support to continue across the WNBA.

"This is how you want every game to be and when it's a sell-out crowd, it gives you a similar playoff atmosphere feel," she said. "People want to be a part of this and the thing now is to continue to sustain it, continue to take the momentum that we have and turn it into something more."

WNBA Commissioner Admits to ‘Faulty’ Charter Rollout

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert at 2024 wnba draft
Cathy Engelbert at the 2024 WNBA Draft in New York. (Cora Veltman/Sportico via Getty Images)

WNBA commissioner Cathy Engelbert admitted to a "faulty rollout" of the new charter travel initiative on Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Ahead of Tuesday's season opener, it was announced that the only teams flying private this week would be Indiana and Minnesota. The announcement came mere days after the league made a new charter flight program for all WNBA teams public. At the time, they said it would be implemented "as soon as we have the planes."

But as two teams out of 12 chartered to their first games of the season, others like the Atlanta Dream and Chicago Sky were forced to fly commercial.

A town hall meeting between Engelbert and the players was held in response to the confusion. Everything from the league's new media rights deal to private travel was covered in the meeting, with players submitting their questions ahead of time. Sky center Elizabeth Williams told Sun-Times reporter Annie Costabile afterwards that cross-country flights were prioritized.

"Flights that are across the country like [the Lynx] going to Seattle, crossing multiple time zones, or flights that usually require a connection, those were the priorities," Williams said. "That’s why New York didn’t go to DC with a charter, but Minny goes to Seattle."

What’s unclear under that metric is that the Atlanta Dream played the Los Angeles Sparks on Wednesday, which could technically be classified as a cross-country flight. 

On Tuesday, rookie forward Angel Reese shared a photo on her Instagram story lamenting the league's use of commercial flights.

"Just praying that this is one of the last commercial flights the Sky has to fly," Reese posted. The team still has at least three commercial flights awaiting them in the near future.

"Obviously, I think all teams should be able to get chartered," Reese told the Sun-Times. "But I know moving forward... going in the right direction, being able to have some teams [chartering] is cool. Within the next weeks, everybody will be flying charter, which will be really good."

On Thursday, Lindsay Schnell of USAToday Sports confirmed that the league intends to have all teams on charter flights by May 21st.

Brazil Wins Bid for 2027 Women’s World Cup Host

fifa womens world cup trophy on display
The FIFA Women's World Cup trophy on display in Bangkok after Brazil was announced as the 2027 host country. (Thananuwat Srirasant - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Brazil has been named the host for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, with FIFA announced early Friday. 

The decision came after a vote at the 74th FIFA Congress in Bangkok, with Brazil earning 119 votes to the joint European bid’s 78. 

This will be Brazil’s first time hosting the Women’s World Cup, with the country having hosted the men’s World Cup twice before in 1950 and 2014. It will also be the first Women’s World Cup held in South America. The tournament will follow the same 32-team format as the 2023 WWC in Australia and New Zealand.

Brazil winning the bid was not entirely surprising after FIFA issued a report just last week, stating that the Brazilian bid had pulled ahead as host following technical inspection. After evaluation, Brazil was given a score of 4.0 out of 5, compared to the 3.7 awarded to the Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Brazil ranked higher in a number of key areas, including stadiums, accommodations, fan zones, and transport infrastructure. Though considered to be a frontrunner, the US and Mexico withdrew their joint bid prior to the technical inspection period, saying they would instead focus their efforts on 2031.

On Friday, Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) president Ednaldo Rodrigues called it a "victory." 

"We knew we would be celebrating a victory for South American women's soccer and for women," he told reporters. "You can be sure, with no vanity, we will accomplish the best World Cup for women."

"We are working on a transformation, not only for the country but for the continent," added bid team operational manager Valesca Araujo.

Brazil intends to use 10 of the venues utilized at the 2014 men’s World Cup, including holding the final in Rio de Janeiro on July 25th. The CBF's proposal outlines that the 2027 tournament run from June 24th through the end of July. Last summer’s World Cup began at the end of July and concluded on August 19th.

Another notable element of Brazil's newly unveiled plan to grow of the women’s game is that "all [men’s] clubs wishing to take part in high-level national and continental competitions must now provide a structure for a women’s team." While the definition of "structure" was not specifically identified, the country has set targets with CONMEBOL to help increase the number of women’s club teams in the country.

In last week's inspection findings, FIFA noted that selecting Brazil as the next WWC host could "have a tremendous impact on women's football in the region."

Chelsea Eyes Weekend Finale With WSL Title in Sight

chelsea players celebrate win against tottenham in the wsl
Chelsea beat Tottenham on Wednesday, moving to the top of the table in an effort to win departing coach Emma Hayes some silverware. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Chelsea did what they needed to do on Wednesday in order to make Saturday's slate of season-ending WSL fixtures interesting: Beat Tottenham.

The Blues are now number one in the league, with an edge over Manchester City on goal differential thanks to an eight-goal outing against Bristol City last week. 

Yesterday's result tees up a league finale for the books as Chelsea looks to send coach Emma Hayes off with another trophy to add to her cabinet. The Blues will play FA Cup winner Manchester City at Old Trafford on Saturday, while City is away at Aston Villa.

"We will be leaving nothing on the pitch, we will be giving everything and no matter what the result is," Chelsea midfielder Erin Cuthbert said after Wednesday's win. "At least we can look each other in the eye and say we gave everything."

It makes for a thrilling end to Chelsea's Emma Hayes era, as the decorated WSL coach will take over the USWNT in June. And it comes after Hayes all but conceded the title race early this month after Chelsea fell to Liverpool 4-3.

"I think the title is done," Hayes said at the time. "Of course, mathematically, it's not, but I think the title is done. Our job between now and the end of the season is to keep pushing until the end, but I think it will be very difficult.

"We will never give up. But the title is far from us; it's not in our hands. I think City are deserving, their consistency has put them in that position. Of course, we will go to the end, but I don't think the title will be going to us this year."

Be it mind games or Hayes truly thinking her team was that far off, her words lit something in Chelsea. Their following two performances showed the team’s determination to have a shot at some silverware.

As for Saturday's schedule, Hayes believes her team is facing the "tougher of the two games."

"It's a fitting finale for me, being my final game," she told BBC Sport. "As I said to the players if someone gives you a second chance in life, make sure you don't need a third one. We're in the position we want to be in, and we'll give it everything on Saturday no matter what."

Start your morning off right with Just Women’s Sports’ free, 5x-a-week newsletter.