Either the San Diego State rim was bigger than Texas’, or the Longhorns had simply forgotten how to finish a bucket.
Whatever the case, the No. 6-seed Longhorns fell flat against No. 11-seed Aztecs 74-63 at the Frank Erwin Center on Sunday.
Texas, a first-round host team, was unable to protect its own house from the storm of shooters the Aztecs brought. The Longhorns jumped to an early four-point lead but then stalled. The Aztecs parked themselves in three-point land and drilled 8 of 10 3-pointers in the first half. They shot 17-30 overall in the half.
Normally only a 33 percent 3-point shooting team, San Diego State coach Beth Burns was happy the shots fell when they did.
“We were saving them,” Burns joked. “I think it’s important. Timing is everything with that.”
Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors did not expect the barrage of outside shots.
“I was stunned,” Goestenkors said. “They make about four and a half 3s a game, and they had eight. I mean, eight for 10. It’s just remarkable. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that kind of shooting half from somebody that’s more of a penetrating team.”
Texas, on the other hand, only managed to scrape together 22 of 66 shots. Not only did the Longhorns miss layup after layup, but they shot one of 13 from beyond the arc — an area in which they usually excel.
San Diego State entered halftime with a 44-30 lead, but still, Goestenkors was not worried.
“I told [Texas] two other teams in this tournament have been down 18 points and come back and won. So we were fine,” Goestenkors said. “We’ve been down quite a bit before in games and come back. We were going to look to trap a little bit more because we needed to get some tips and some steals and hopefully get some transition points.”
They didn’t, though they came close. With all the momentum and crowd noise behind them, the Longhorns mounted two comebacks in the second half. The Texas defense held the Aztecs to only five field goals in the second half, and Cokie Reed led the way on offense with eight points in the
However, every time Texas seemed to make a push, senior Aztec guard Jene Morris pushed back.
“As a team, we’ve gotten comfortable playing uncomfortable,” Morris said. “[Texas] is a great team, so we knew they were going to make runs. The key to winning is to be comfortable with the runs.”
Morris led all scorers with 32 points. She was nine of 18 from the field and nine of 11 from the charity stripe. She also hit five of eight 3-pointers.
Texas went on a 10-0 run late in the second half to cut the Aztec lead to six with more than two minutes left. The Longhorns then resorted to fouling the poor free-throwing shooting Aztecs. San Diego State hit them when it counted, though, to put the game out of reach.
As the final seconds of the clocked wound down, senior Brittainey Raven fouled out.
As she left the court to a standing ovation, the senior could only hide her head while tearing up.
“After the game, I told the seniors I felt terrible for them,” Goestenkors said. “I love them very, very much, and I feel very proud to have had the opportunity to coach them for three years, and I’m just sorry that I couldn’t help them to go further in the tournament because I think they deserved it.”