Close calls and low-seeded surprises were suddenly at a premium as the NCAA tournament moved into the second round Saturday.
St. Joseph's, the ninth-seeded team in the West, threatened to disrupt an otherwise routine slate of games by taking a five-point lead over No. 1 Stanford with 8:25 left in San Diego.
But the Cardinal responded, retaking the lead and making their free throws down the stretch to seal a 90-83 victory and head to the West Regional semifinals in Anaheim, Calif.
Stanford lost in the second round the last two years.
''It's a relief to me,'' Cardinal coach Mike Montgomery said. ''Now I won't have to answer that question again.''
Elsewhere, Duke, Kentucky, Maryland and UCLA all breezed into the round of 16, while Cincinnati and Georgetown both are headed there for the first time in five years.
Saturday's games in the East and West Regionals were decided by an average margin of about 15 points.
It was a stark contrast to the two days of first-round action, when 12 of the 32 games were decided by four points or fewer, and 13 teams seeded ninth or lower won -- the most since the field expanded to 64 schools in 1985.
There was one mild upset Saturday: Sixth-seeded Southern California edged No. 3 Boston College 74-71 in Uniondale, N.Y., in the East Regional.
Boston College had the ball and a chance to tie in the closing seconds, but failed to attempt a 3-pointer as Kenny Harley drove to the basket and missed a layup.
''I always tell our guys that you need to be aware of the time and score on the floor,'' USC coach Henry Bibby said. ''We were all kind of confused on their decision.''
USC advanced past the second round for the first time since 1954, when it went to the Final Four, and now plays No. 2 Kentucky. The Wildcats beat No. 7 Iowa 92-79 in the late game in Uniondale.
In the other half of the East, in Greensboro, N.C., top-seeded Duke got strong performances from Jason Williams and Shane Battier in a 94-81 win over No. 9 Missouri that put the Blue Devils in the round of 16 for the 12th time since 1986.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski shared hugs before tipoff with Missouri coach Quin Snyder, who was a part of five Final Four teams at Duke as a player and assistant coach.
The Blue Devils head to the regional semifinals in Philadelphia to face No. 4 UCLA, which dismissed Utah State 75-50 to get to the final 16 for the fourth time in five years.
In the West, third-seeded Maryland overpowered Georgia State 79-60 in Boise, Idaho. The game was far less compelling than the story line pitting Panthers coach Lefty Driesell against Maryland, which fired him 15 years ago in the wake of Len Bias' cocaine-related death.
The Terrapins advanced to a regional semifinal against neighbor Georgetown. The Hoyas picked up a 76-57 victory over 15th-seeded Hampton, which stunned No. 2 Iowa State in the first round.
In San Diego, fifth-seeded Cincinnati beat No. 12 Kent State 66-43 to earn a matchup with Stanford.
Stanford 90, St. Joseph's 83
Ryan Mendez, the nation's best free-throw shooter, and Jarron Collins were a combined 10-for-10 from the line in the final 45.1 seconds as Stanford (30-2) tied the school record for victories in a season.
Maryland 79, Georgia State 60
Lonny Baxter had 19 points and 14 rebounds for Maryland (23-10), which hasn't reached a regional final since Driesell led it that far in 1975.
Georgetown 76, Hampton 57
Kevin Braswell scored 15 points and Nat Burton had 13 for Georgetown (25-7).
Cincinnati 66, Kent St. 43
Jamaal Davis had 16 points and 10 rebounds as Cincinnati (25-9) beat fellow Ohio school Kent State (24-10) with strong rebounding and a top-notch transition game.
Duke 94, Missouri 81
Williams, nursing a sore left ankle, had 31 points and nine assists, and Battier had 27 points and 11 rebounds for Duke (31-4).
Kentucky 92, Iowa 79
Tayshaun Prince scored 31 points, and Kentucky (24-9) used a 12-0 run at the end of the first half to take control. Dean Oliver led Iowa (23-12) with 26 points, and Reggie Evans added 18 points and 13 rebounds.
UCLA 75, Utah State 50
Dan Gadzuric had 16 points and 14 rebounds, and Jason Kapono scored 15 of his 19 points on 3-pointers for the Bruins (23-8).
Shawn Daniels scored 11 points to lead Utah State (28-6), which folded under UCLA's full-court press in the second half.
USC 74, Boston College 71
Robert Hutchinson, a sophomore who came in when starting point guard Brandon Granville fouled out with seven minutes left, made five free throws in the last 1:17 for USC (23-9).
Troy Bell scored 32 points for the Eagles (27-5).
but passed to Harley on the team's last possession.
''I should have taken that last shot,'' Bell said. ''I was having a decent shooting night, and I take responsibility for not taking that last shot.''
HEAD:UConn starts with win
CAPTION:St. Joseph's Jameer Nelson, left, drives to the basket against Stanford's Jason Collins, second from right, and Ryan Mendez in the second half of a second-round game of the NCAA West Regional Saturday in San Diego.
CREDIT:AP Photo/Denis Poroy
BYLINE1:By The Associated Press
STORRS, Conn. -- Even without Shea Ralph and Svetlana Abrosimova, Connecticut opened defense of its NCAA title with a record-breaking performance.
Swin Cash had 12 points and 16 rebounds Saturday night as top-ranked UConn (29-2) cruised to a 101-29 win over Long Island University in the first round of the East Regional, the best defensive effort in the history of the women's NCAA tournament.
The 29 points allowed eclipsed Colorado's 78-34 win over Southwest Missouri State in 1995.
UConn's 72-point victory also tied the second-biggest margin in tournament history. Tennessee beat North Carolina A&T 111-37 in 1994.
It was a rough NCAA tournament debut for the Blackbirds (16-15), who suffered the worst loss in school history. They shot 15 percent from the floor (10-of-65), committed 19 turnovers and were outscored 54-4 in the paint.
Colorado State 83, Maryland 69
STORRS, Conn. -- Heather Haanen made a career-high six 3-pointers and scored 21 points to lead Colorado State (25-6) over Maryland and into a second-round match against Connecticut.
The ninth-seeded Rams (25-6) will play No. 1 seed Connecticut on Monday.
Elizabeth English had 16 points for the Rams and was 3-of-6 from behind the arc as Colorado State made 14 3-pointers to tie a school best.
Deedee Warley led the eighth-seeded Terrapins (17-12) with 21 points. She went out briefly late in the second half after injuring her back going for a rebound, but returned to play the final four minutes.
TCU 77, Penn State 75
RUSTON, La. (AP) -- Kati Safaritova scored 21 points, including what proved to be the game-winning basket with 48 seconds left, as TCU won its first NCAA tournament game.
Lisa Shepherd, who had 20 points and five 3-pointers for the Lady Lions, hit the front of the rim with a 30-foot shot at the buzzer.
Maren Walseth had 21 points and 13 rebounds for sixth-seeded Penn State (19-10), which went to the Final Four last season.
Tricia Payne scored 15 for the 11th-seeded Lady Frogs (25-7), who advanced to the second round of the East Regional.
Louisiana Tech 84, Georgia St. 48
RUSTON, La. (AP) -- Takeisha Lewis and Kenya Bibbs each scored 17 points as third-seeded Louisiana Tech overwhelmed Georgia State and improved its record to 33-0 in NCAA tournament games played on its home court.
The Lady Techsters (29-4) extended their current overall winning streak to 17 games.
The Lady Panthers (24-7), seeded 14th, managed to pull within 19 points with just under eight minutes left before Tech reeled off nine straight points, the last six on consecutive 3s by Brooke Lassiter to make the score 70-40 with 4:22 left.
Leslie McElrath led Georgia State with 17 points.
Notre Dame 98, Alcorn State 49
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Ruth Riley was perfect from the floor and the free-throw line while scoring 16 points in the first round.
The Irish (29-2), who emptied their bench in the second half, will face Michigan in the second round on Monday. The winner advances to the round of 16 in Denver.
The Irish, wearing green uniforms in honor of St. Patrick's Day, held Alcorn State (21-11) to a season-low 21.1 percent shooting. Cherea Wood, the Lady Braves' leading scorer at 17.2 points a game, was held to nine points on 4-of-24 shooting.
Riley was 6-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from the foul line while adding seven rebounds.
Michigan 81, Virginia 71, OT
SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- Alayne Ingram scored a career-high 27 points, all in the second half and overtime, and Michigan overcame a 17-point deficit for its first NCAA tournament win in 11 years.
Schuye LaRue hit a 3-pointer for Virginia with 5.9 seconds left in regulation to force the tie, but the eighth-seeded Wolverines dominated in overtime. Michigan (19-11) scored the first seven points, then hit six of nine free throws.
LaRue led the Cavaliers (18-14) with 24 points and 11 rebounds.
Colorado 98, Siena 78
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Mandy Nightingale scored 18 points to lead Colorado to victory in the first round of the Midwest Regional.
The sixth-seeded Buffaloes (22-8) hit 63 percent of their shots from the floor (38-for-60) and blew the game open by making 16 of their first 17 attempts in the second half.
Colorado got 17 points from both Tera Bjorklund and Eisha Bohman.
Sacha Baker and Liene Jansone had 16 points each for the Saints (24-6), who entered with a 15-game winning streak.
Vanderbilt 83, Idaho St. 57
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Jillian Danker hit seven 3-pointers and scored 25 points as third-seeded Vanderbilt beat Idaho State, ending the nation's longest winning streak at 21 games.
The Commodores (22-9), hit 29 of 46 from the floor (63 percent) to send Idaho State (25-5) to its first loss since Dec. 20.
Vanderbilt got 18 points from Chantelle Anderson and 17 from Zuzi Klimesova.
Big Sky Conference champion Idaho State was led by Chris Urbanski with 20 points, including six 3-pointers.
Iowa 89, Oregon 82
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Iowa scored the first six points of overtime, capped by Cara Consuegra's driving layup, to defeat Oregon. Lindsey Meder, who finished with 25 points, hit a 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 74 and send it into overtime.
After Oregon (17-12) cut the score to 84-80, the fourth-seeded Hawkeyes (21-9) hit 7 of 8 free throws in the last two minutes.
Angelina Wolvert led Oregon with 18 points and 13 rebounds.
Utah 79, Fairfield 57
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Kristina Andersen had a career-high 23 points and nine rebounds, while Amy Ewert had 15 points, seven assists and five steals for Utah (27-3), which advanced past the first round for just the second time in 11 NCAA appearances.
Holli Tapley and Gail Strumpf each scored 15 points for Fairfield (25-6), which lost a first-round NCAA tournament match for the fourth straight time.
Duke 96, Wisconsin-Milwaukee 63
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Alana Beard had 22 points and seven steals, and Rometra Craig scored a career-high 20 points as top-seeded Duke shot 64 percent.
The Blue Devils (29-3) improved to 9-0 in the first round of the NCAA tournament and won their seventh straight as the host team. They can set the school record for victories in a season by beating Arkansas in the second round Monday.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee (19-11) shot 31 percent in its first tournament game. Jessica Wilhite led the Panthers with 24 points and six steals.
Arkansas 68, Baylor 59
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) -- Lonniya Bragg had 16 points and 14 rebounds as Arkansas overcame a poor shooting first half.
The ninth-seeded Lady Razorbacks (20-12), in the tournament for the first time since 1998, made just 10 of 35 shots in the first half but rallied with a 15-4 run midway through the second.
Danielle Crockrom led Baylor (21-9) with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Arkansas' Amy Wright had 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Rutgers 80, Stephen F. Austin 43
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Tasha Pointer set an NCAA women's tournament record with 18 assists as Rutgers started its road back to the Final Four with a first-round victory in the West Regional.
Tammy Sutton-Brown added a career-best 25 points as fourth-seeded Rutgers (23-7) advanced to the second round on Monday night against Southwest Missouri State.
Latisha Prater led Stephen F. Austin (26-7), appearing in its 14th straight NCAA tournament, with 10 points. The Ladyjacks' starting lineup combined for only 24 points.
SW Missouri St. 89, Toledo 71
PISCATAWAY, N.J. (AP) -- Tara Mitchem scored a career-high 40 points and fifth-seeded Southwest Missouri State (26-5) overcame a rare subpar game by Jackie Stiles in the first round of the West Regional.
Stiles, the NCAA's all-time leading scorer in women's college basketball, had a season-low 13 points before leaving with about nine minutes to play after being knocked woozy when she was hit in the temple running into a pick at midcourt.
The senior guard, who averaged 30.7 points a game this season, never returned, but team doctor Brian Mahaffey said he expected her to be fine.
Mitchem's 40 points tied for the fourth-most in an NCAA women's tournament game. The win was the 300th for Lady Bears coach Cheryl Burnett.
Kahli Carter had 21 points for the Rockets (25-6), who had their school-record 16-game winning streak stopped.
Oklahoma 70, Oral Roberts 64
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Seventh-ranked Oklahoma used a 9-0 run late in the second half to finally pull away from Oral Roberts in the first round of the West Regional.
Oklahoma (27-5) made the record crowd of 10,923 sweat before taking over by holding Oral Roberts without a field goal for nearly four minutes.
All-American Stacey Dales and Caton Hill scored 16 points each for the second-seeded Sooners.
Freshman Cori Williston scored a career-high 19 points for the Golden Eagles (20-11).
Stanford 76, George Washington 51
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) -- Nicole Powell scored 16 of her 19 points in the first half as Stanford (19-10) snapped George Washington's eight-game, NCAA first-round winning streak.
George Washington, which had won eight straight NCAA first-round games, winds up 22-10.
The Colonials (22-10) were no match for the much taller Stanford team. The Cardinal did make seven 3-pointers, but also scored almost at will inside.
Corrin Reid scored 11 points and Erica Lawrence and Kristeena Alexander 10 each for George Washington.
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