Here is everything you need to know about the Texas Longhorns and the Fairfield Stags in our Texas vs. Fairfield NCAA Women’s Tournament preview.
Spokane Region – First Round
No. 2 Texas (26-6) vs. No. 15 Fairfield (25-6), 7 p.m. CT, Friday, ESPNU, Frank Erwin Center, Austin, Texas
How They Got Here: Texas won the Big 12’s automatic bid. Fairfield won the MAAC’s automatic bid.
Winner Gets: A second-round meeting with the Utah-Arkansas winner on Sunday.
Projected starting lineups
Texas: G Rori Harmon, G Shay Holle, G Joanne Allen-Taylor, F DeYona Gaston, F Lauren Ebo.
Fairfield: F Lou Lopez-Senechal, G Sydney Lowery, F Callie Cavanaugh, F Andrea Hernangomez, G Rachel Hakes
Players to watch
Texas G Rori Harmon: Harmon was named the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. She also earned selection to the Big 12 All-Freshman Team, the Defensive Team and the Second Team. Then, she went off and earned the Big 12 Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player award after averaging 22 points in the three Big 12 Tournament games that led to the Longhorns winning their first title since 2003. Harmon had a big game in the semifinal against Iowa State, scoring 30 points and hitting back-to-back 3-pointers to start overtime. On Wednesday, Harmon earned Honorable Mention All-America selection by the Associated Press. It probably won’t be the first time she earns all-America honors, either.
Fairfield F Lou Lopez Senechal: She has started every game this year and she’s one of three Fairfield players to play at least 1,000 minutes this season. But she’s the only one that’s averaging double figures with 19.6 points per game (she’s also averaging 4.6 rebounds per game). She’s had a great career at Fairfield, earning All-MAAC honors in each of her four seasons — Rookie of the Year in 2018-19, and All-MAAC First Team the past three seasons. Her journey to Fairfield was unique. Born in Grenoble, France, she played in the North Atlantic Basketball Academy in Ireland before head to college.
Texas: The Longhorns are making NCAA Tournament appearance No. 34 this season, and only three teams in the country have more appearances than Texas. But, the Longhorns didn’t steal head coach Vic Schaefer from Mississippi State to just make NCAA Tournaments. Last season, the Longhorns reached the Elite Eight in his first season. So, perhaps, the Final Four is the next logical progression? Texas hasn’t been to a Final Four since 2003 and hasn’t won its only national championship since 1986. The Longhorns absolutely have the defense to pull it off. If Harmon’s emerging play is any indication, they may have the offense, too.
Fairfield: Fairfield finished the season on a tear. The Stags have won 15 straight games, including a run through the MAAC Tournament last week. But this is also a watershed season for the Stags. This is just the program’s fifth NCAA Tournament appearance, the fourth conference tournament title and the fourth regular-season conference title. The Stags have never won an NCAA Tournament game, and their last appearance was in 2001, as they lost to Utah by 20 points.
This weekend will be the last Texas basketball games at the Erwin Center, thanks to Texas hosting first- and second-round games as a No. 2 seed.
Texas 81, Fairfield 65. I’m not sure Fairfield has seen a defense quite like Texas. Plus, Fairfield is 0-2 against Power 5 schools this season.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.