The Texas Longhorns defeated the Utah Utes, 78-56, to advance to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament on Sunday in Austin, Texas.
The Longhorns (28-6) became the first Big 12 women’s team to get out of the first weekend of play in the NCAA Tournament. No. 2-seed Texas now awaits the winner of the Ohio State-LSU game, to be played on Monday, in the Spokane Region next week.
For a quarter, it looked like this game would be close throughout.
Texas shot 60 percent in the first 10 minutes and took a 19-17 lead behind senior guard Joanne Allen-Taylor, who had eight points in that quarter. But Utah kept up, as Allen-Taylor dueled with Utah’s Kennady McQueen, who had nine first-quarter points, all on 3-pointers. In her first five quarter of the sub-regional in Austin, McQueen hit nine 3-pointers.
But, in the second quarter, Texas opened up the game behind forward Aaliyah Moore. For the third straight game, the freshman showed just how much potential she has in Austin after a season mostly defined by her injury in November.
When Moore entered the game with 1:28 left in the first quarter, the Longhorns and the Utes were tied, 17-17. When she subbed out with 2:16 left in the second quarter, the Longhorns were up 38-26. At one point Moore hit five straight shots and finished with 14 points for the quarter.
Texas had a 44-30 halftime lead. Moore wasn’t the only Longhorns that was shooting lights out, either. Texas shot 11-of-13 for the quarter and 71 percent for the first half.
Moore finished with 21 points on 9-of-10 shooting, putting her in double figures for the third straight game. She had 12 points against Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game and 18 points against Davidson in the first round. Moore lost her starting role due to the injury and she continues to come off the bench. But her performance the past three games has given Texas more interior depth.
Texas was never threatened in the second half. Allen-Taylor finished with 12 points, while guard Rori Harmon finished with 11 points. Aliyah Matharu came off the bench to score 14 for Texas, as the Longhorns shot 63 percent from the field.
Utah shot 50 percent from the floor, but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep up. McQueen finished with 18 points and forward Jenna Johnson added 12 points.