NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Taylor Robertson scored 17 of her 22 points in the second half to help fourth-seeded Oklahoma beat No. 13 seed IUPUI 78-72 on Saturday night in the first round of the women’s NCAA Tournament.
IUPUI coach Austin Parkinson was disappointed that the Jaguars failed to properly guard Robertson — one of the nation’s best 3-point shooters — after halftime. Robertson shot 4 of 9 on 3s after the break.
“I thought we did a poor job on Robertson in the second half,” Parkinson said. “We covered her great in the first half and lost her on some really pretty easy switches we would normally make. A player like that and you leave her open, it’s three points. That was tough.”
Madi Williams added 21 points for the Sooners (25-8), who got a tournament win for first-year coach Jennie Baranczyk. Oklahoma will host Notre Dame in a second-round game Monday. Notre Dame defeated Massachusetts 89-78 earlier in the evening.
Rachel McLimore scored 18 points for IUPUI.
Macee Williams, the four-time Horizon League Player of the Year, had 17 points, 13 rebounds and six assists for the Jaguars (24-7). She created problems early for an Oklahoma team that at times has struggled to guard strong post players.
“We had to defend her a variety of ways, to be honest,” Baranczyk said. “And in watching her, you knew that she was good; you respected her. But when you go against somebody live, you really get the real story, and she’s good. She’s a very, very good basketball player, and she just makes everybody around her really great.”
IUPUI played in its first-ever tournament game. The Jaguars qualified in 2020, but the tournament was canceled.
“To be able to play on a national stage and have people tuning in tonight, 9, 10 o’clock at night and see what these kids are capable of, I think was really neat,” Parkinson said.
IUPUI came in confident. The Jaguars had won 19 of 20 and had defeated No. 15 Iowa on the road in December.
IUPUI led early, but Skylar Vann’s layup as time expired in the first quarter gave Oklahoma an 18-17 lead. Macee Williams scored 10 points in the first quarter for IUPUI in just seven minutes of action.
Oklahoma led 41-37 at halftime, despite having trouble getting Robertson open for shots. The Sooners’ No. 2 scorer for the season only had two field goal attempts and five points before the break.
Oklahoma held IUPUI to 5-for-19 shooting in the third quarter, and the Sooners scored just enough. A pullup jumper by Madi Williams as time expired gave the Sooners a 59-49 lead heading into the fourth.
The Jaguars hung around, but never got closer than four points the rest of the way. Macee Williams scored just three points on 1-for-5 shooting in the second half.
“I mean, at the end of the day, you make a couple other shots and maybe it goes the other direction,” Parkinson said.
IUPUI: Macee Williams, a graduate, is just the fourth Division I women’s player to win conference player of the year honors four times. She averaged at least 13 points all five seasons she played and started 141 of her 142 games with the Jaguars. Things will be different without the school’s all-time scoring and rebounding leader.
Oklahoma: The Sooners are one of the nation’s highest-scoring teams, and they like to push the pace. They found a way to win against a team that had some success slowing it down.
Baranczyk said IUPUI is better than the seed it was given. She felt for IUPUI and recalled her years coaching at Drake and trying to get respect for her mid-major program.
“I can promise you I’ve been on the bad side of seeding and I think IUPUI is a little bit better than a 13-seed,” Baranczyk said. “They are a very good basketball team.”
Parkinson believes Macee Williams could make it in the WNBA.
“If I’m a WNBA team, I’ve got first- or second-round pick, I take a hard look at her,” he said. “At the end of the day, we played two Big Ten teams and one Big 12 team, and every single one of them had to double her. To me, that says a lot about what she’s able to do individually, and clearly she’s left her mark here at IUPUI.”
Vann injured her left knee late in the Big 12 Tournament loss to Baylor. Baranczyk said she didn’t know until Friday if Vann would be able to play. She had 13 points and five rebounds in 20 minutes.
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