UT Women’s Hoops punches ticket to Sweet Sixteen with 73-55 win over Mizzou

Filed under: Sports,UT Women's Basketball |

Texas will play in the Round of 16 for the second consecutive year and 13th in program history

AUSTIN, Texas— Sophomore guard Ariel Atkins tied her career-high with 22 points to drive No. 7/7 Texas over Missouri, 73-55, advancing the Horns to the Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive year and 13th time in program history.

atkins_ariel_2015

Ariel Atkins

With the win, No. 2 seed Texas (30-4) records its first 30-win season for the first time since the 2003-04 campaign. As a program, the Longhorns hold a 13-8 record in the Second Round and a 37-27 mark in the NCAA Tournament. Texas leads the all-time series over No. 10 seed Mizzou, 23-2.

“I just can’t say enough about how proud I am of this basketball team,” said Texas head coach Karen Aston. “I’m excited for our team and looking forward to moving on. I thought we beat a really good team tonight. I thought our defense really took them out of the things that they do best. I’m really, really proud.”

Atkins’s career night came behind a 9-of-13 effort from the floor and a 3-of-4 effort from three-point land. She also brought down seven boards and swiped three steals. Freshman guard Lashann Higgs logged 11 points and two steals for the game, while senior guard Celina Rodrigo led with a team-high six assists. Senior center Imani Boyette posted two blocks, making her the second player in program history to record 300 career blocks and 100 single-season blocks.

As a team, Texas shot 41.1 percent (30-of-73) from the field and 42.1 percent (8-of-19) from beyond the arc. Five different Longhorns netted triples on the night, marking the first time this has happened since the Horns played Iowa State on January 6. Missouri was limited to a 31.4 shooting percentage (16-of-51) from the floor and a 28.6 shooting percentage (8-of-28) from downtown. The Horns won the battle of the boards, 47-33, and have done so in 28 of 34 games this season.

The Tigers (22-10) were led by freshman guard Sophie Cunningham with 23 points and six rebounds.

The Horns never let the Tigers score in the paint in the first half, forcing Missouri to try and find their footing behind the arc. Mizzou jumped out to a 6-0 lead after Cunningham drilled two triples in the opening minutes of play, but Texas rallied back behind a 17-3 run to close the quarter with the 17-9 advantage.

Texas continued to push ahead in the second, as Rodrigo beat the shot clock with a long triple to give Texas the 26-14 lead with 6:44 remaining in the half. The Tigers sunk two quick baskets, but the Longhorns countered with a 10-3 spurt, including consecutive three-pointers from Atkins, to lead 36-21 heading into the second half.

The teams traded baskets for the majority of the third with Mizzou narrowly outscoring Texas, 19-18. The Longhorns never let go of their double-digit lead, and a free throw from Rodrigo closed the quarter with Texas clinging to a 54-40 lead.

The Texas starters went on a 14-2 run in the heart of the fourth to hand the Horns their largest, 25-point lead of the night after a jumper from freshman forward Jordan Hosey with 1:48 remaining in regulation (73-48 Texas). Mizzou took the last seven points of the night, but it wasn’t enough as Texas secured their ticket to the Round of 16 with the 73-55 decision.

Next on the slate, Texas will travel to Bridgeport, Conn. to play No. 3 seed UCLA in the Third Round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday, March 26. Tip is set for 12:30 p.m. CT and the game will be televised live on ESPN.

Boxscore (PDF) | Postgame Notes | Postgame Quotes