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NCAA WOMEN'S BASKETBALL

Historic loss for Tennessee women in NCAA opener

Ball State, seeded 12th in its NCAA debut, beats Tennessee, 71-55. Fifth-seeded Lady Vols, the defending NCAA champions, lose before the Sweet 16 for the first time in the school's history.

March 23, 2009|Associated Press

Tennessee's NCAA women's title defense ended sooner than expected, wrapping up the worst season ever for Pat Summitt's storied program.

Ball State, seeded 12th, stunned the two-time defending national champions, 71-55, Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bowling Green, Ky., ending one of the more remarkable streaks in college basketball history.

The fifth-seeded Lady Volunteers (22-11) had never before lost on the opening weekend of the tournament, going 42-0 through the years.

It was one of several firsts:

* First defending national champion to lose in a first round. Old Dominion won the title in 1985 and failed to make the tournament the next year.

* First NCAA loss by Tennessee before the Sweet 16.

* First appearance by Ball State (26-8) in the tournament.

"I thought we were tentative, maybe uptight," Summitt said. "But you have to give credit where credit is due and that's to the Ball State basketball team. They had a lot more toughness. They beat us to loose balls. They made shots."

In other first-round highlights:

No. 2 Baylor 87, No. 15 Texas San Antonio 82, OT -- The Bears won despite playing without Coach Kim Mulkey, who was hospitalized earlier in the day after suffering a reaction to medication she was taking because of having a kidney stone removed Friday. Leon Barmore, the Baylor assistant coach and also Mulkey's former coach at Louisiana Tech, took over the reins for the Bears (28-5), who won at Lubbock, Texas. Baylor's Jessica Morrow and Melissa Jones each made two free throws in the final 23 seconds of overtime to stop the Roadrunners (24-9).

No. 10 Minnesota 79, No. 7 Notre Dame 71 -- The Fighting Irish's home-court edge was no match for the Gophers' three-point shooting and rebounding at South Bend, Ind. The Gophers (20-11) started the game by making 11 of 13 shots and opened a 14-point first-half lead, then used three-point shots to stop the Irish (22-9).

No. 9 Michigan State 60, No. 8 Middle Tennessee 59 -- Mia Johnson sparked the victory with a tiebreaking three-point shot for the Spartans (21-10) with just over a minute left at East Lansing, Mich. Brandi Brown made a layup to get the Blue Raiders to within one, but Middle Tennessee (28-6) didn't get a shot off after calling a timeout with 10 seconds left.

No. 9 Georgia Tech 76, No. 8 Iowa 62 -- The Yellow Jackets (22-9) harassed the Hawkeyes (21-11) on defense and beat them to rebounds in the victory at Iowa City, Iowa.

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Today's game

VIRGINIA (24-9 ) vs.

CALIFORNIA (26-6)

NCAA women's tournament at the Galen Center, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2 -- The fourth-seeded and 13th-ranked Golden Bears face the fifth-seeded and 24th-ranked Cavaliers in the second round -- probably for the right to play No. 1 Connecticut in the Sweet 16. Undefeated Connecticut, the top-seeded team in the Trenton (N.J.) Regional, plays Florida in the second round Tuesday. Cal is led by senior forward Ashley Walker, who averages 19.3 points and 8.6 rebounds. Virginia wings Monica Wright and Lyndra Littles each average more than 20 points a game but were limited to 13 each in a first-round victory over Marist.

-- Robyn Norwood

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