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Leigha Brown scored 23 points and Naz Hillmon added 19 to lead No. 6 seed Michigan to its first Sweet 16 appearance with a 70-55 win over third-seeded Tennessee on Tuesday in the women’s NCAA Tournament.

The Wolverines had been 0-5 in the second round before pulling off the victory over the Lady Vols. As the final buzzer sounded, the Michigan players jumped into a group hug at centre court and sang “it’s great to be a Michigan Wolverine.”

Leading 18-16 with eight minutes left in the first half, Michigan (16-5) held Tennessee to just one field goal the rest of the second quarter and built a 28-19 halftime lead. The Lady Vols missed their final seven shots of the period and ended their drought 1:18 into the third quarter. The Lady Vols’ deficit grew to 17 points as Michigan went on a 22-7 run spanning the quarters.

Tennessee (17-8) trailed by 15 heading into the fourth quarter and was able to cut its deficit to 54-44 with under 5 minutes left before a 3-pointer by Danielle Rauch and a steal and layup by Brown restored the 15-point cushion. Tennessee couldn’t get closer than nine the rest of the way.

Hillmon, the Big Ten Player of the Year, also had 15 rebounds as the Wolverines more than held their own on the glass against the Lady Vols, outrebounding them 42-40.

A trip to the regional semifinals was just another first for the Wolverines this year. The team started 10-0 for the first time in school history. They were also in the rankings all season for the first-time, as well as having Hillmon be the first player to earn All-America honours as a second-teamer.

Tennessee, which has a long storied NCAA tradition with eight national championships, fell to 28-3 in the second round.

Rennia Davis scored 12 points to lead the Lady Vols, who were playing Michigan for the first time.

Caitlin Clark scores 35 for Iowa in win over Kentucky

Iowa freshman Caitlin Clark is stepping up on the big stage of the women’s NCAA Tournament, and really stood out in a small gym to send the Hawkeyes to the Sweet 16.

Clark finished with 35 points on 13-of-21 shooting and six 3-pointers after outscoring fourth-seeded Kentucky on her own in the first half, and the Hawkeyes advanced with an 86-72 victory Tuesday in the second-round game played in the cozy arena on the campus of Division II school St. Mary’s University.

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The fifth-seeded Hawkeyes (20-9) had what coach Lisa Bluder called a perfect start, scoring the game’s first 11 points — with all five starters getting a basket, Clark’s being a 3-pointer.

They led throughout to advance past the second round for only the third time in their 14 NCAA appearances during Bluder’s 21 seasons. They did go to the Elite Eight in the last tourney two years ago before losing to eventual champion Baylor.

Two-time AP All-American guard Rhyne Howard finished with 28 points to lead the fourth-seeded Wildcats (18-9). She was 1 of 7 shooting in the first half, but finished 8 of 21 with five 3-pointers, along with eight assists. Dre’Una Edwards added 16 points and Jazmine Massengill 10.

A second-team AP All-American who entered the game as the national leader with 26.5 points per game, Clark also had seven rebounds and six assists. Her 35 points and six 3-pointers were both NCAA tournament records for Iowa.

Iowa will play No. 1 seed UConn or No. 8 Syracuse in the Sweet 16.

Georgia Tech rolls over West Virginia

Lotta-Maj Lahtinen scored 22 points, Lorela Cubaj had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and No. 5 seed Georgia Tech used a big third quarter to beat No. 4 West Virginia 73-56 on Tuesday in the second round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.

The Yellow Jackets needed a second-half rally in the opening round against Stephen F. Austin — the fourth-largest comeback in tournament history — but had this game well in control with a 17-point lead over the Mountaineers to start the fourth. Their European inside-outside combo of Cubaj, from Italy, and Lahtinen, of Finland, led the way.

Lahtinen was 9 of 16 from the field and struck for 17 points in the first half to dig the Yellow Jackets out of an early hole.

Georgia Tech (17-8) advanced to the Sweet 16 for the second time in program history and first since 2012. The Yellow Jackets will meet Tuesday night’s winner between No. 1 South Carolina and No. 8 Oregon State in the Hemisfair Region.

Esmery Martinez scored 13 points to lead West Virginia (22-7).


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