Updated: March 23, 2014, 12:34 AM ET

Five observations from Saturday's opening day

By Charlie Creme | espnW.com

Sixteen games are in the books. What did we learn from the opening day of the women's NCAA tournament?

1. No one puts the 'D' in Durham: On Saturday in Buffalo, the Dayton men's team scored 55 points over 40 minutes and won. In Durham four hours earlier, the Oklahoma women scored 66 in the second half and lost. Such are the vagaries of tournament basketball.

The Sooners' explosion after halftime against DePaul almost brought them back from 19 down, but the defense was as flawed as the offense was superb, and the Blue Demons prevailed in the highest-scoring regulation women's NCAA tournament game in history, 104-100. It wasn't the career-ending result that Oklahoma senior guard Aaryn Ellenberg might have wanted, but her 36 points and seven 3-pointers will be a lasting memory.

2. Big 12 bummer: While the Sooners were lighting up the scoreboard, it appeared someone forgot to plug in Iowa State's, leading to another disappointment for the Big 12. Playing on their home floor in Ames, the Cyclones made just 25.4 percent of their field goals and turned the ball over 19 times in a 55-44 loss to Florida State, a game the Cyclones were never really in.

The Big 12 managed to go 2-2 (Baylor and Oklahoma State were winners), but only Baylor carried the banner impressively, thanks to the 30-30 club of freshman Nina Davis and senior Odyssey Sims in a 87-74 win over Western Kentucky. With coach Kim Mulkey watching from home -- serving the NCAA's one-game suspension for criticizing the officiating last March -- Davis (32 points) and Sims (31) combined for 63 points and became just the second and third Baylor players to score more than 30 points in an NCAA tournament game (Brittney Griner did it five times). The Lady Bears were almost the only team from the Big 12 -- once the nation's dominant conference -- to advance on day one.

Lexi Eaton
AP Photo/Jae C. HongLexi Eaton led BYU with 25 points and also tallied eight rebounds and four assists.

Working overtime: Despite producing a game tape that coach Jim Littell will likely want to burn, Oklahoma State escaped in overtime against upset-minded Florida Gulf Coast in one of the day's first games, 61-60, in West Lafayette, Ind.

Trailing by 10 points midway through the second half, Oklahoma State did little right: The Cowgirls gave up too many 3-pointers (seven), didn't execute in the paint (nine points in the paint despite 12 offensive rebounds), committed untimely turnovers (15) and took poor, rushed shots (37 percent from the field for the game). Still, they managed to send the 12th-seeded Eagles home with their second first-round overtime loss in as many NCAA tournament appearances.

Tiffany Bias nearly saw her career end in nightmare fashion. Playing in foul trouble for much of the game, the well-respected senior point guard committed eight turnovers, scored just six points and was only 1-of-9 from the field. Fortunately, that one made field goal was the difference in the game. Her streaking layup with 41 seconds left provided the final points of the game, and, despite two more missed free throws in the final seconds, the Cowgirls did the only thing that is important this time of year -- survive and advance.

Lucky No. 12: Florida Gulf Coast nearly made it a perfect day for the No. 12 seeds, these days the most common landing spot for upset potential. That's because BYU, thanks to the offense of Lexi Eaton and inside dominance of Jennifer Hamson, played like anything but one of the last four teams in the field. Eaton scored 25 points and the 6-foot-7 Hamson had 12 points, 19 rebounds and nine blocks. The Cougars never trailed after it was 2-0 and led by as many as 21 on the way to the program's first tournament win since 2006.

Backcourt heroes: Bias' layup that provided the winning margin for Oklahoma State was just the beginning for guards delivering in the clutch. Brittany Boyd's runner with 14 seconds left was the difference for Cal, helping the Bears escape Fordham's upset bid 64-63 in Waco, Texas. Unlike Bias, Boyd can also brag about an outstanding overall game with 22 points and 10 assists.

St. John's' Briana Brown falls into more of the Bias category for most of her 26 minutes but was ultimately the biggest hero of the day. Scoreless for the game's first 39 minutes, 59 seconds, she delivered a 3-pointer from the corner just before time ran out to give the Red Storm a 71-68 win over USC in a game St. John's trailed much of the way. On a day when 2,182 points were scored in NCAA tournament action, no three were bigger than the only 3 for Brown.

Charlie Creme projects the women's NCAA tournament bracket for ESPN.com.


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