|Marist's Rachele Fitz holds off Chrissy Givens, whose 16 points were 6 below her average. (PAUL SAKUMA/ASSOCIATED PRESS)|
13 not unlucky for Marist
Alisa Kresge and the Marist Red Foxes are crashing the power-packed Dayton Regional.
Kresge dished out nine assists, handled Middle Tennessee's vaunted press with aplomb, and helped hold leading scorer Chrissy Givens in check as Marist became just the third No. 13 seed to make it to the round of 16 with a 73-59 win last night at Palo Alto, Calif.
Nikki Flores scored 21 points to lead Marist, Jullianne Viani and Meg Dahlman added 13 apiece, and freshman Lynzee Johnson scored all 7 of her points during a key 15-2 run late in the second half. The Red Foxes (29-5) snapped fifth-seeded Middle Tennessee's 27-game winning streak, the longest in the nation.
Coming into the NCAA Tournament, the pundits pegged the Dayton Regional as the most powerful in the field with Tennessee, defending national champion Maryland, Oklahoma, and Ohio State heading the group. After knocking off fourth-seeded Ohio State and Middle Tennessee (30-4), the powerhouses will have to make room for tiny Marist.
The school with an enrollment of 4,000 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., will play the winner of tonight's game between top-seeded Tennessee and eighth-seeded Pittsburgh Sunday in Dayton. The only other No. 13 seeds to make it to the third round since the tournament expanded to 64 teams were Texas A&M in 1994 and Liberty in 2005.
With Kresge running the show, Marist forced Middle Tennessee to drop out of its vaunted press in the second half. The strategy worked as the Blue Raiders whittled an 11-point halftime lead to 2 in just five minutes.
Johnson checked in for the first time and sparked the run that helped Marist pull away. With Marist up by 5, Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the corner and converted a 3-point play underneath to make it 58-47 with 6:46 to go.
Givens, one of the best players in Middle Tennessee history, was held to 16 points -- 6 less than her average -- on 7-for-16 shooting in her final college game. Krystle Horton added 10 as the Blue Raiders shot just 38 percent, including 7 for 26 from 3-point range.
Oklahoma 78, Marquette 47 -- When one Paris twin gets in foul trouble, the Sooners simply go to the other.
Courtney Paris got her 60th consecutive double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds despite spending almost 12 minutes of the first half on the bench, and sister Ashley Paris chipped in 8 points and 10 boards to lead Oklahoma at Austin, Texas.
No. 3 seed Oklahoma (28-4) moved on to the round of 16 for the second consecutive year.