Then, the Gamecocks hit seven consecutive baskets midway through the first half, sparking a 74-52 rout of the Jackrabbits in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament.
“The momentum was great. We gave them no slack and kept the pressure on,” said Ashley Bruner, who led South Carolina with 15 points and 11 rebounds. “We were eye-to-eye with them at that point. Then the momentum went in our direction.”
After that, the Gamecocks (25-7), who won a school-record 11 Southeastern Conference games this season, used their superior athleticism and stout defense to make quick work of the Jackrabbits (25-8), the Summit League regular season and tournament champs.
Ieasia Walker, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, finished with 15 points. She also helped hold South Dakota State to 33 percent shooting in the first half as the Gamecocks raced to a 44-26 halftime lead.
Gamecocks coach Dawn Staley said her halftime speech was about speed.
“We forced them to play quicker than they wanted to play,” she said.
KANSAS 67, COLORADO 52
In Boulder, Colo., Angel Goodrich and Carolyn Davis each scored 14 points and 12th-seeded Kansas (19-13) upset No. 5 seed Colorado (25-7) on the Buffaloes’ home floor.
TEXAS A&M 71,WICHITA STATE 45
In College Station, Texas, Kristi Bellock tied a career high with 18 points and Texas A&M (25-9) routed Wichita State (24-10).
NEBRASKA 73, CHATTANOOGA 59
In College Station, Texas, Jordan Hooper scored 18 of her 21 points in the second half, helping Nebraska (24-8) rally from nine points down to beat Chattanooga (29-4).
CONNECTICUT 105, IDAHO 37
In Storrs, Conn., Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis led six players in double figures as top-seeded Connecticut (30-4) routed Idaho (17-16).
Mosqueda-Lewis finished with 22 points, all in the first half. Morgan Tuck had 18, and Moriah Jefferson added 16 for the Huskies, who advanced to the second round for the 20th time in a row.
Connecticut led by as many as 74 points in the second half.
VANDERBILT 60, SAINT JOSEPH’S 54
In Storrs, Conn., Tiffany Clarke had 16 points and 12 rebounds to lead Vanderbilt (21-11) over Saint Joseph’s (23-9).
MARYLAND 72, QUINNIPIAC 52
In College Park, Md., Alyssa Thomas had 29 points and 13 rebounds, and Maryland (25-7) spoiled Quinnipiac’s tournament debut.
The Terrapins trailed by nine in the first half, moved in front 27-23 at the break and dominated the second half against the smaller Bobcats (30-3).
MICHIGAN STATE 55, MARIST 47
In College Park, Md., Kiana Johnson scored 16 points, Annalise Pickrel added 14 and Michigan State (25-8) halted a string of first-round tournament upsets by Marist (26-7).
Marist has made a name for itself by pulling first-round upsets as double-digit seeds, advancing to the second round as a No. 13 seed a year ago and as a No. 10 in 2011.
OKLAHOMA CITY REGIONAL
TENNESSEE 83, ORAL ROBERTS 62
In Knoxville, Tenn., Meighan Simmons scored 18 points, and Tennessee (25-7) beat Oral Roberts (18-13) in its first NCAA Tournament game of the post-Pat Summitt era.
The Lady Vols, the No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional, got points from all 10 players and improved to 51-0 in NCAA Tournament games on their home floor.
CREIGHTON 61, SYRACUSE 56
In Knoxville, Tenn., McKenzie Fujan scored a career-high 24 points as Creighton (25-7) held off a late Syracuse rally to beat the Orange (24-8) and earn its first NCAA Tournament victory since 1994.
OKLAHOMA 78, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 73
In Columbus, Ohio, Joanna McFarland had 18 points and a career-high 17 rebounds and Aaryn Ellenberg scored 18 of her 22 points in the second half to lead sixth-seeded Oklahoma (23-10) over Central Michigan (21-12).
UCLA 66, STETSON 49
In Columbus, Ohio, Nirra Fields led UCLA’s balanced attack with 13 points and the Bruins (26-7) rolled over Stetson (24-9).
IOWA STATE 72, GONZAGA 60
In Spokane, Wash., Chelsea Poppens scored 19 points, Hallie Christofferson scored 11 of her 18 in the second half, and fifth-seeded Iowa State (24-8) ended No. 12 seed Gonzaga’s dominance at home in the tournament.
Gonzaga (27-6) went 4-0 the past two seasons playing on its home floor during the NCAAs in reaching the round of 16.
CALIFORNIA 90, FRESNO STATE 76
In Lubbock, Texas, Brittany Boyd scored 21 points and added a career-high 13 rebounds to lead second-seeded California (29-3) over Fresno State (24-9).
SOUTH FLORIDA 71, TEXAS TECH 70
In Lubbock, Texas, Inga Orekhova scored 20 points to lead South Florida (22-10) past Texas Tech (21-11).