Montana State has had a good season. The Bobcats beat Big Sky 14-6, finished second in the tournament, and won the conference tournament without too much difficulty after regular-season champions Idaho State were eliminated in the quarterfinals.
It wasn’t a pleasant trip to the NCAA Tournament for a group of women who entered the heaters to hit an auto bid. They may have lost 22 to the first-place team they’ve played this season, BYU, but Montana State definitely deserves a spot on the field.
But no one deserves what happened to Montana State on Friday night, as the Spokane Area 16th seed had to head to Stanford to face the defending national champion, a Cardinal program that didn’t lose to anyone. anything but the #1 seed in March since 2016, and has been on every 16th since 2008.
Making an announcement to the rest of the country on how they’re going to enter this tournament, Cardinal made history in their first game, and the Bobcats were the unfortunate team that was on the other end of it.
Stanford won the opening tip, but Kola Bad Bear stole the ball from Cameron Brink, and… that was as good as it was for Montana State. Brink blocked a shot from Darian White, put on a combination from the other end with Lexie Hull’s assist, and Cardinal was off the field and running. At the end of the first quarter, the score was 20-0 – the first time in league history that a team had lost in the opening half of a match. Stanford took a 23-0 lead before the Bobcats finally made it to the table with a Taylor Janssen shot, 43 seconds into the second half, and the rest of the game was just a march (including a Francesca Belibi dunk) to win the inevitable Stanford, with a final score of 78-37.
South Carolina was the first team to draw a non-league opponent in the tournament in a quarter, defeating Texas in the final round of last year’s Elite Eight. And the Gamecocks set their own defensive record to start this year’s tournament, keeping Howard to four points in the first half on his way to 79-21 in another 1-16 game.
The SEC champions got to at least get a little more resistance in the second round of the Greensboro Area on Sunday ahead of 8 Miami, while Stanford also got the area 8, Kansas.
Aside from the 8-9 and 7-10 bounces, the women’s tournament had only one defeat on its opening day, as Kierstan Bell scored 22 points to lead the Florida Gulf Coast No. 12 with an 84-81 win over No. . 5 Virginia Technology in the Spokane Region. Next up for the Eagles will be Friday’s top-scoring team, Maryland, a 102-71 home win over Delaware.