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Women's College Basketball: Princeton stays unbeaten with first tourney win

It's not that Princeton coach Courtney Banghart was unimpressed to see President Obama in the stands, just a few rows away.

It's not that Princeton coach Courtney Banghart was unimpressed to see President Obama in the stands, just a few rows away.

It's that Banghart was more concerned with making sure her Tigers - including Obama's niece, Leslie Robinson, a freshman forward - would stay unbeaten and win a women's NCAA tournament game for the first time.

After trailing at halftime with the First Fan in attendance Saturday in College Park, Md., eighth-seeded Princeton came back to improve to 31-0, beating No. 9 seed Wisconsin-Green Bay, 80-70, behind Michelle Miller's 20 points, Annie Tarakchian's 19, and a 49-22 rebounding edge.

"He was actually sitting right in front of my family, so I'd look back at my family, and I'd be like, 'Oh, my God. It's Barack.' But it certainly wasn't in my focus," Banghart said.

"And that's not belittling his importance. That will go down as a highlight, as well, and I'm hoping there's a picture of me - and he's somewhere in the background," she continued. "Someone got that, right?"

Banghart's team fell behind Green Bay by three points late in the first half and was down, 35-34, at halftime.

Princeton is not accustomed to losing, and it's not all that familiar with close calls, either, having won all but two of its games by at least 10 points.

Princeton used a 15-3 run to lead, 60-48, with about nine minutes remaining on Alex Wheatley's fastbreak layup.

Mehryn Kraker led Green Bay (28-5) with 21 points, and Kaili Lukan added 17. But the Phoenix shot just 8 of 27 on three-pointers, while Princeton went 9 of 16.

Rutgers 79, Seton Hall 66 - Kahleah Copper, a Prep Charter graduate, and Tyler Scaife each scored 21 points, and the eighth-seeded Scarlet Knights used a season-high seven three-pointers to beat in-state rival Seton Hall in the opening round of the NCAA tournament in Storrs, Conn.

Betnijah Laney added 17 for the Scarlet Knights (23-9), who have now won 14 of the last 15 meetings between the former Big East rivals.

Tabatha Richardson-Smith had 18 points and Tiffany Jones added 17 for ninth-seeded Seton Hall (28-6), which was making just its third appearance in the tournament and its first in 20 years.

Rutgers outscored Seton Hall, 23-10, over the game's final nine minutes after the Pirates had come back from a 12-point second-half deficit to tie the game at 56. Seton Hall hit just one of its last seven shots from the floor and didn't score in the game's final 3 minutes, 23 seconds.

Seton Hall and Rutgers have played 42 times, with the Scarlet Knights winning 34 of those games. The teams played last year in the WNIT, with Rutgers winning in double overtime on its way to the tournament title.

Rutgers will face the Connecticut-Francis winner Monday.

Tennessee 72, Boise State 61 - Tennessee's close call in its NCAA tournament opener left Vols coach Holly Warlick wanting to double-check Boise State's record.

"I just told their coach, 'I don't know how you lost 10 games,'" Warlick said after the Vols outlasted Boise State in Knoxville, Tenn. "That was a great team, a great effort."

Bashaara Graves scored a career-high 24 points as Tennessee (28-5) pulled away after creating some nervous moments for the crowd. Tennessee, the No. 2 seed in the Spokane Regional, advanced to a second-round game Monday with No. 10 seed Pittsburgh (20-11), which beat Chattanooga, 51-40.

The Vols were clinging to a 63-58 lead after Boise State's Camille Redmon made the front end of a one-and-one with 2 minutes, 51 seconds remaining. But Redmon missed her second free throw, and Tennessee's Ariel Massengale sank a three-pointer 13 seconds later to spark a game-clinching 8-0 run.

"I'm satisfied we got the 'W,' but we could do much better," Graves said. "Our one-on-one defense has got to be tight right now. This is crunch time."

Tennessee withstood an exceptional performance from Brooke Pahukoa, who scored 22 points for the 15th-seeded Broncos (22-11). She had 18 in the first half, when she shot 7 of 7.

"They're a great team, but the net's the same, the hoop's the same, the court's the same," Pahukoa said. "You're still going to be able to knock down the shots you always do. That's what we went into the game thinking."

Tennessee is the only program to appear in all 34 NCAA tournaments and has reached at least the regional semifinals in all but one of them.