Cierra Dillard led Buffalo with 29 points, its only player in double figures.
Buffalo (29-6), just the third Mid-American Conference school to reach the round of 16, was among the final four teams to earn an at-large berth. It was the program’s second tournament appearance after a first-round exit two years ago, and though the loss dampened their spirits, don’t expect it to last.
“We’re going to enjoy it,” center Cassie Oursler said. “We changed the program for Buffalo and we know that, so we’re obviously going to enjoy this time, and it’s nice to know we’re leaving a group of women who are going to carry this on and keep killin’ it for future years to come. It’s just a growing program, and it’s nice to see that.”
The Gamecocks led, 55-48, entering the fourth quarter, and the Bulls stayed with them, closing to 60-54 on Dillard’s driving layup off the glass with 6 minutes 38 seconds left. But Buffalo missed three straight shots and a fast-break layup by Doniyah Cliney gave South Carolina a 10-point lead with just over five minutes to go.
CONNECTICUT 72, DUKE 59 Napheesa Collier had 16 points and 11 rebounds to help top-seeded UConn advance to the round of 8 for the 13th consecutive season. UConn (35-0) will face the defending national champion, South Carolina, on Monday night in trying to reach an 11th straight Final Four.
The Huskies scored the first 7 points of the game, beginning with a banked-in 3-pointer from Kia Nurse, and they were off and running.
Duke had given up an average of only 49 points in its first two games of the tournament. UConn had that by the end of the third quarter, much to the delight of the partisan crowd of 10,658 that took in the Albany Regional.
Fifth-seeded Duke (24-9) was only down 7 early in the second quarter when the Blue Devils went cold from the field, going scoreless over the next five and a half minutes. UConn extended its advantage to 30-16.
The Blue Devils cut their deficit to 12, but UConn scored the final 8 points of the half, including a pull-up by Gabby Williams just before the halftime buzzer to give UConn a 40-20 lead. Duke closed its gap to 44-31 midway through the third quarter, but didn’t score for the rest of the period, and UConn rebuilt the 20-point advantage.
Duke was led by the sophomore Leaonna Odom, who has been dominant in the tournament, averaging 20.5 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 60 percent from the field in wins over Belmont and Georgia. She had 22 on Saturday.
NOTRE DAME 90, TEXAS A&M 84 Marina Mabrey scored 25 points, hitting a career-high seven 3-pointers, and Arike Ogunbowale also had 25 points to help top-seeded Notre Dame advance to a regional final in Spokane, Wash. The Fighting Irish (32-3) rallied from a 13-point, first-half deficit and are back in their familiar spot of playing for a trip to the Final Four.
It took a fantastic shooting performance from Mabrey and some key contributions late from Ogunbowale and Jackie Young for Notre Dame to hold off Chennedy Carter and the Aggies. Young had three key baskets in the final five minutes and scored 8 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter. Mabrey was 7 of 11 on 3-pointers, and the Irish made 10 of 18 shots from behind the arc. She had all 25 of her points in the first three quarters.
Notre Dame led, 79-70, with five minutes left after Young scored, but had to hold on after Kennedy and Anriel Howard hit a trio of 3-pointers. Texas A&M was within 85-82 with 1:40 left, but Notre Dame’s Kathryn Westbeld hit a 15-footer with 1:15 remaining to push the lead back to 5.
Carter, the dynamic freshman for the Aggies, finished with 31 points and 7 assists. Howard added a career-high 26 points and 14 rebounds, but the Aggies (26-10) have advanced to the round of 8 just once since winning the title in 2011.
OREGON 83, CENTRAL MICHIGAN 69 Ruthy Hebard had 23 points and 14 rebounds, Sabrina Ionescu just missed another triple double with 16 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds, and second-seeded Oregon beat 11th-seeded Central Michigan in the regional semifinals in Spokane, Wash.
Lexi Bando added 14 points for Oregon (33-4), which earned a second consecutive trip to the round of 8 with its 12th win in a row.
The Ducks will play top-seeded Notre Dame in the regional final on Monday.
Tinara Moore had 23 points and 14 rebounds for Central Michigan (30-5), which won its first two N.C.A.A. tournament games in program history this year. Presley Hudson added 15 points on 6-of-21 shooting.
The Chippewas were doomed by poor shooting, making just 36 percent of their shots to 49 percent for Oregon.