Pryor, Sacred Heart beat Southern 57-47 in First Four

  • Sacred Heart guard Ny'Ceara Pryor (1) shoots between Southern's Diamond Hunter (0) and Genovea Johnson (25) during the first half of a First Four game in the NCAA women's college basketball tournament Wednesday, March 15, 2023, in Stanford, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Kelsey Wood had her second double-double of the season, Ny’Ceara Pryor had 11 points, eight rebounds and a career-high 10 assists and Sacred Heart won its first NCAA Tournament game with a 57-47 victory over Southern on Wednesday night in the First Four.

Sacred Heart (19-13), which has won six games in a row, plays fifth-ranked and top-seeded Stanford in the first round Friday.


Wood finished with 10 points and a season-high tying 11 rebounds and Olivia Tucker added 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting, 1 of 10 from 3-point range, for the Pioneers.

Genovea Johnson, the only Southern player to score in double figures, finished with 13 points.

Tucker and Sierra Johnson made back-to-back baskets in the lane before Pryor added a layup that gave Sacred Heart its first lead at 18-16 with 6:28 left in the second quarter and the Jaguars trailed the rest of the way. Tucker hit a 3-pointer and Wood made two free throws before Pryor scored the final four points in a 9-0 spurt to close the first half that made it 33-20 and Sacred Heart led by double figures until the closing seconds.

The Jaguars (18-15) had won five games in a row and nine of their last 10.

Pryor, who led Northeast Conference in scoring at 18.2 points per game this season, became the first player in conference history to earn player of the year, defensive player of the year and rookie of the year in the same season. The 5-foot-3 guard, who was selected to all-NEC first team and the conference’s all-rookie team, went into the game leading the nation in steals per game (3.9) and steals overall (120). She finished with two steals against Southern.

Raven White scored seven points as the Jaguars jumped to a 14-4 lead midway through the first quarter. Sacred Heart made just two of its first 11 field-goal attempts before Amelia Wood made back-to-back 3-pointers 27 seconds apart to spark an 8-0 spurt before the Pioneers went into the second quarter trailing by four.

Mississippi State wins First Four game

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — Jessika Carter had 22 points, nine rebounds and four blocks, Anastasia Hayes added 11 points, seven rebounds and five assists and Mississippi State beat Illinois 70-56 on Wednesday night to begin the NCAA Tournament in a First Four game.

Mississippi State (21-10) advances to the field of 64 to take on No. 6 seed Creighton. The Bulldogs improved to 14-3 in the NCAA Tournament since the 2016-17 season.

Freshman Debreasha Powe scored four points during Mississippi State’s 11-2 run to begin the third quarter for a 42-32 lead. The Bulldogs extended it to 52-38 at the end of the quarter after shooting 53%. Kourtney Weber sank a 3-pointer to cap a 9-1 run to begin the fourth quarter for a 61-39 lead.

After Mississippi State’s lead was cut to 12 points with 4:19 left, Carter scored four straight points to reach 20-plus for the sixth time this season.

JerKaila Jordan also scored 11 points for Mississippi State. Weber finished with eight points.

Carter scored 10 points in the first half to help build a 31-30 lead. Makira Cook scored 11 points for Illinois, which shot 48% from the field but didn’t attempt a free throw compared to Mississippi State’s 10 of 12.

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