No. 7 UT Women’s Basketball advances to Second Round, downs ASU, 86-42.

Filed under: Sports,UT Women's Basketball |

The 44-point win ties Texas’s largest margin of victory in the NCAA tournament since playing No. 15 seed Hampton on March 23, 2003

AUSTIN, Texas — Sophomore forward Ariel Atkins scored a team-high 15 points and senior center Imani Boyette brought down a team-high 10 boards to propel No. 7/7 Texas over Alabama State, 86-42, in the First Round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament inside the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday night.

With the win, No. 2-seeded Texas (29-4) advances to the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight season. The Longhorns hold an all-time record of 36-27 in Tournament play, including a 20-9 mark when hosting. The 44-point win ties Texas’s largest margin of victory in the NCAA tournament since playing No. 15 seed Hampton on March 23, 2003.

“I thought our team was really ready to play, and our starters got us off to a good start,” said Texas head coach Karen Aston. “It took us a half to sort of settle into the discipline of the game, and once we did that, I think we played pretty good basketball. I thought they had a good rhythm the entire evening.”

Senior guard Empress Davenport tallied 13 points for the game featuring three triples, her new career-high. Sophomore guard Brooke McCarty added 12 points, and freshman guard Lashann Higgs scored 10 points, including a perfect 6-of-6 effort from the free throw line. Senior guard Celina Rodrigo led with a team-high four assists.

All 13 eligible players on the Texas roster scored at least two points on the night for the first time this season. As a team, the Longhorns shot 46.4 percent (32-of-69) from the field and 31.6 percent (6-of-19) from behind the arc. Alabama State shot 22.2 percent (12-of-54) from the floor and 35.3 percent (6-of-17) from downtown. The Horns dominated the battle of the boards, 50-29, and outblocked the Lady Hornets, 7-2.

No. 15-seeded Alabama State (19-12) was led by junior guard Danielle Clark with 13 points.

Davenport got Tournament play rolling with the first five points for the Longhorns, and a three-point conversion from Atkins coupled with a Rodrigo layup put the Horns up 10-3 at the 6:35 mark of the first. After one ASU free throw, Texas went on a 9-1 run to lead by 13 (18-5) with 2:18 remaining. The Lady Hornets responded by grabbing the last eight points of the quarter to cut the margin to 18-13 Longhorns.

Boyette got her first two points of the night from the free throw line to open the second and added a layup to hand Texas the 22-15 lead at the 8:59 mark. A Davenport triple and an Atkins jumper pushed the advantage to double-digits again (29-18) with 2:57 remaining in the half. The teams would trade shots from the line in the closing minutes of the first half, and a long Lady Hornet jumper ended it, sending Texas into the break with a 32-22 advantage.

The Horns wasted no time in the third, jumping out on an 11-0 spurt (43-22) to force an ASU timeout at the 6:48 mark. Texas only allowed Alabama State five points in the third, and the Longhorns found their groove behind conversions from Atkins and McCarty, who tallied 18 points together for the quarter. A jumper from junior center Lang ended the third, putting Texas ahead by 31 points (58-27).

The Longhorns continued to dominate play in the last quarter, scoring all 28 points from the bench. Freshman forward Jordan Hosey added a huge block followed by a three-point conversion to make it 72-34 Horns with 4:54 remaining in regulation. The Lady Hornets found their bright spot behind back-to-back triples from junior guard Daniele Ewert, but a long jumper from junior Sara Hattis ended the game, 86-42 Texas.

Up next, Texas will play No. 10 seed Missouri in the Second Round of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Monday, March 21. Tip is set for 8 p.m. CT, and the game will be carried live on ESPN2.