Texas Women’s Basketball advances to the Elite Eight with 72-64 win over UCLA

Filed under: Sports,UT Women's Basketball |

Texas will play No. 1 seed Connecticut on Monday night in the Bridgeport Regional Final.

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Senior center Imani Boyetterecorded her first postseason double-double with 18 points and 10 rebounds to advance No. 7/7 Texas to its first NCAA Regional Final since 2003, defeating UCLA, 72-64, on Saturday afternoon inside the Webster Bank Arena.

With the win, the Longhorns (31-4) advance to their 10th Regional Final in program history. Texas moves to 38-27 in all-time NCAA Tournament play and 9-4 in Regional Semifinal action. The No. 2 seed Horns are now tied in the all-time series against the No. 3 seed Bruins, 6-6.

Texas has reached 31 wins for the first time since the 1987-88 team finished 32-3.

“We’re extremely excited to be playing another day,” said Texas head coach Karen Aston. “Our team has impressed me all year long with their ability to be resilient. Every time we had a setback, we were really terrific at being able to reset and go to the next day.”

Boyette, who scored 11 of her points and brought down nine of her rebounds in the second half, complemented her double-double with two blocks and one assist. Sophomore guard Ariel Atkins totaled 16 point on the night, while also adding eight rebounds and two steals. Sophomore guard Brooke McCarty picked up 15 points for the game with four assists. Senior guard Celina Rodrigo led Texas with five assists, and freshman guard Lashann Higgs and junior guard Brianna Taylor both swiped three steals.

As a team, No. 2 seed Texas shot 40.9 (27-of-66) percent from the floor and 30.0 (3-of-10) percent from downtown. No. 3 seed UCLA was limited to a 30.2 shooting percentage (19-of-63) from the field and a 14.3 shooting percentage (2-of-14) from beyond the arc.

ULCA (26-9) was led by sophomore forward Monique Billings and sophomore guard Jordin Canada with 20 points each.

After a quick Atkins layup to open Sweet Sixteen play, UCLA captured the next six points to lead, 6-2, with 6:25 left in the first. The Horns trailed until the 4:58 mark, when a long jumper from Davenport gave Texas the 9-8 edge. The Bruins responded on an 8-0 run to snatch the lead once more, and a Lang jumper finished the quarter, 17-11 UCLA.

UCLA extended its margin to as many as 10 at the 6:48 mark of the second quarter, but five straight points from Boyette cut it to 27-22 Bruins with 5:57 remaining in the half. With 1:31 on the clock, Higgs swiped one from the Bruins and added a layup to make it a one-possession game, but UCLA closed with a layup to lead 33-28 at halftime.

Two straight buckets from Lang got the Horns within one (33-32), forcing a Bruin timeout at 7:45 in the third. A McCarty triple coupled with two free throws from Atkins handed the Longhorns their first lead since the first quarter, 37-55, with 6:33 remaining in the third. UCLA rallied back to gain the lead at the 5:22 mark and never let it go to end the third, 54-48.

Texas dominated the fourth quarter, outscoring UCLA 24-10. After opening on a 10-0 spurt, the Horns led by four, 58-54, with 6:37 remaining in regulation. A Bruin jumper cut the game to one possession, but a Higgs layup and three-point conversion from Atkins pushed the margin to five with 3:30 on the clock. Texas headed to the line six separate times in the last minutes, and one from Taylor sealed the deal, 72-64.

Up next, Texas will play No. 1 seed Connecticut (35-0) in the Elite Eight on Monday, March 28. Tip time is set for 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.