For about a week, Florida guard Jordan Jones listened to the chatter about how Ohio State felt insulted by the selection committee.
It was as if the Gators — who were playing the Buckeyes in the first round — were an afterthought.
“All week long we heard Ohio State this, Ohio State that, their guards average this, their post players do that,” Jones said. “I know Ohio State talked a lot about being disrespected, but we felt disrespected, too. I don’t think anyone knew how good our defense was.”
Quick on the perimeter and relentless on the boards, the ninth-seeded Gators were a step ahead of Ohio State from the start Sunday in Bowling Green, Ohio, beating the eighth-seeded Buckeyes, 70-65, in the Des Moines Regional. Florida scored the game’s first nine points and led the entire way.
Jennifer George had 16 points and six rebounds and Lanita Bartley added 15 points to lead Florida to a win in front of a crowd packed with fans of the in-state Buckeyes.
Tayler Hill scored 23 points for Ohio State (25-7), including two late baskets to cut the Buckeyes’ deficit to two. Florida (20-12) patiently worked the ball inside to George, who went up strong to her left and scored with 45 seconds to play. Emilee Harmon missed at the other end for the Buckeyes.
Ohio State star Samantha Prahalis went scoreless in the second half and finished with nine points.
The Buckeyes looked caught off guard.
Florida forced turnovers early and finished with 20 offensive rebounds, winning despite shooting 35 percent from the field. The Gators will face top-seeded Baylor on Tuesday night.
No. 1 Baylor 81, No. 16 Santa Barbara 40: Brittney Griner scored 14 points in only 22 minutes and top-seeded Baylor rolled to the win over 16th-seeded UC Santa Barbara in the Des Moines Regional in Bowling Green.
Brooklyn Pope had 13 points for the Bears (35-0) and Destiny Williams added 12. Baylor has not lost since the quarterfinals of last year’s NCAA tournament.
No. 3 Delaware 73, at No. 14 UALR 42: Elena Delle Donne had 39 points and 11 rebounds to lift Delaware over Arkansas-Little Rock. The Blue Hens (31-1) earned their first victory in three NCAA tournament appearances and ran their winning streak to 21 games in a row.
No. 4 Georgia Tech 76, No. 13 Sacred Heart 50: Freshman guard Sydney Wallace scored a season-high 28 points to lead Georgia Tech past Sacred Heart in the first round in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Wallace finished 11 of 13 and hit six 3-pointers while Sasha Goodlett added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
The Yellow Jackets used a huge run in the first half to take command and didn’t allow the Pioneers to get closer than 13, claiming a spot in the second round opposite fifth-seeded Georgetown on Tuesday night.
No. 5 Georgetown 61, No. 12 Fresno State 56: Tia Magee scored 17 points and Georgetown held on to beat Fresno State in Chapel Hill.
Adria Crawford and Sugar Rodgers added 11 points apiece for the Hoyas (23-8). They never trailed but blew most of a 17-point lead and made four field goals during the final 151/2 minutes.
Ki-Ki Moore scored 22 points for the 12th-seeded Bulldogs (28-6). They shot 34 percent, finished with a season-low point total and remained winless in six NCAA tournament appearances.
No. 11 Kansas 57, No. 6 Nebraska 49: Angel Goodrich scored 20 points to lead Kansas past former Big 12 rival Nebraska in Little Rock, Ark.
The Jayhawks (20-12) led by as many as 10 in the first half and held on in the second for their first NCAA tournament win since 1999. The appearance was the school’s first since 2000 and the first in eight seasons under coach Bonnie Henrickson.