No. 3-seeded Texas Longhorns women’s basketball will face off with two-seeded Stanford in a Sweet 16 match-up on Friday at 8 p.m. CT in Lexington, Kentucky on ESPN.
The ‘Horns will need to rely on junior point guard Brooke McCarty to remain competitive against a stout Stanford defense. McCarty scored 23 points on 7-13 shooting in the Longhorns’ round of 32 84-80 victory against North Carolina State. The 5’4 guard has averaged a team-high 14.3 points per game on the year.
Another ‘Horns player who will need a big game is freshman Joyner Holmes, who provided 16 points for Texas and added nine rebounds against North Carolina State. Holmes will need to continue her season long offensive output (she averages 12 points per game). She also leads the team with 90 turnovers, and added five to that total in the round of 32, so displaying better ball security would help the odds against a Stanford team that has accumulated 7.4 steals a game.
Stanford (30-5) is coming off of a closer-than-expected 72-64 first round victory against New Mexico State, followed by a convincing 69-48 blowout of Kansas State in the round of 32.
The Cardinal are led by Erica McCall, who averages 14.3 points per game. The senior center also leads the team in rebounds with 306. At 6’3, McCall’s size will pose challenges for the Lady ‘Horns, but Texas has many athletes who can match-up with her. 6’5 senior center Kelsey Lang and the 6’3 forward will look to hit the boards for the ‘Horns and limit McCall’s productivity inside.
The Longhorns (25-8) have had a solid season under Karen Aston’s tutelage which has been highlighted by a 85-79 February 6th victory over then No. 2 Baylor in Austin. However, the team had lost four of its last six games heading into the NCAA tournament.
This team can play with anyone, but can also lose to anyone too, as evidenced by the 70-66 home loss to Iowa State in February.
It’s clear that Aston has the program on the right track and the North Carolina State game was thrilling, if imperfect. This team may not be among the best eight in the country right now, but it is fun to watch and worth cheering for.
So whether the season ends tonight, on Sunday, or in the Final Four, the head coach and her players should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.