ESPN’s latest bracketology has the Texas Longhorns as a 2 seed in the Women’s NCAA Tournament, and that’s because the Longhorns have consistently been doing what elite women’s basketball teams do — running lesser teams completely out of the gym, and showing they can play with the very best.
Women’s hoops hasn’t yet reached the level of parity you see in the men’s game and there’s still a clear stratification of programs. Texas had previously slipped into the third tier (assuming UConn is alone in the first tier, and the next 20 or so programs make up the second tier). But under Karen Aston, the Longhorns have returned to contender status.
Texas’ only arguably bad loss in their 15-3 campaign thus far is a two-point road loss to TCU, which currently sits on the bubble. The other two came on the road at traditional power Tennessee way back on December 10, and in last week’s home heartbreaker to UConn. Texas led the Huskies for much of the game, including by as much as 10 in the first quarter. They had chances to pull out the W in front of a huge home crowd but came up just short, 75-71.
So Texas took out its frustrations on the poor Texas Tech Red Raiders, pounding them 90-39 in Lubbock on Saturday. That, again, is what elite women’s basketball teams do to lower-level ones. It matches the Longhorns’ wins of 95-59 over Stetson, 100-34 over McNeese State, 120-70 over UTSA, and 88-54 over Louisiana Tech.
Texas also has wins over likely tournament teams in Florida State (currently a fellow 2 seed in ESPN bracketology), Georgia (4 seed, whom Texas blew out 81-53), West Virginia (7 seed), Oklahoma State (7 seed), and LSU (10 seed).
Texas’ successful run has been led by senior point guard and 2017 Big 12 Player of the Year Brooke McCarty, who’s averaging 13.4 points and over 5 assists per game, all while leading the team in total minutes despite missing a game. Junior guard Lashann Higgs and senior guard Ariel Atkins lead the team in scoring with 15.2 and 15.0 PPG respectively, while senior Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau (from Quebec, not Louisiana) and junior Jatarie White hold it down inside with 5.2 and 5.9 rebounds per game respectively.
So now you’re caught up. It’s been a great season so far, and the Longhorns have 11 games remaining. Two of those are by far the biggest: the match ups against Baylor in Waco at 6:00 Thursday night on ESPN2, and the February 19 return trip to Austin (also already scheduled for ESPN2). Tune in.