Texas women overcome 15-point deficit, advance in NCAAs

Posted Sunday, Mar. 23, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
A

Have more to add? News tip? Tell us

Down 15 late in the first half, Texas appeared well on the way to another first-round exit. A program with three Final Fours in its history would bid farewell to a group of seniors with a parting gift of a collection of one-and-dones.

Sensing those upper-classmen were perhaps a bit tight, coach Karen Aston turned to the players she calls the “young pups.” She sent Brianna Taylor out to start the second half, and the freshman needed less than a minute to score a big fast-break bucket.

Meanwhile, sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford simply took over, scoring 15 of her 20 points after halftime to lead the fifth-seeded Longhorns past No. 12 Penn 79-61 Sunday.

“They just played free tonight,” Aston said. “They played without worrying about a lot of mistakes, and it seemed like the older players were fearful of making mistakes.”

It was the Longhorns’ first NCAA win since 2008. After failing to make the tournament last year, they’ve returned to end a skid of four consecutive first-round losses.

“I think it absolutely was a step that this program needed to take, should take,” Aston said. “And we’re just looking to take some more, but it was a big one.”

McGee-Stafford went 8 for 11 from the field, grabbed 12 rebounds and made all four of her free throws. The Longhorns (22-11) went 18 for 18 from the line for the game and shot 61 percent in the second half to set up a second-round meeting Tuesday with fourth-seeded Maryland.

Texas trailed 32-17 late in the first half and 38-31 at halftime, but the stronger, more athletic Longhorns cut down on their turnovers and took advantage of Penn’s foul trouble to pull off a 22-2 run early in the second half.

“I don’t want to say I freaked out about the score, but it was on my mind,” McGee-Stafford said. “I know I only had, like, five points and I hadn’t taken that many shots, so that said something about my aggression.”

Alyssa Baron scored 25 points to lead the Quakers (23-6), who were trying to become only the second Ivy League team to win a game in the women’s tournament. The conference dropped to 1-22 all-time, although the one victory was historic: Harvard over Stanford in 1997, the only time a No. 16 seed has topped a No. 1 in men’s or women’s tournament history.

Baron’s hot hand gave Penn the early lead, but the officials called the game close, and that hurt the Quakers’ chances to hold on.

Ivy League rookie of the year and defensive player of the year Sydney Stipanovich played only seven minutes in the first half because of foul trouble, and it’s safe to say she did little to get her money’s worth on the calls. She picked up her fourth soon after halftime, leaving a void in the middle for McGee-Stafford to lead Texas’ comeback.

“I tried to stay straight up, but they’re just talented players. They came and drew the fouls. You’ve got to give them credit for that,” said Stipanovich, who then pursed her lips in a way that spoke volumes more than her diplomatic answer.

Both teams admitted Stipanovich’s limited playing time changed the game. The niece of former Indiana Pacers center Steve Stipanovich, she finished with 14 points, but most of them came when Penn was trying to make up a double-digit deficit late in the game.

“They getting the lead, and we didn’t have Sidney down there to change their shot,” Penn coach Mike McLaughlin said. “We had to change some things up on that end. It definitely hurt us. We tried to adjust and it just didn’t work our way.”

Also, Penn’s Kara Bonenberger fouled out with 7:03 to play.

Texas was careless early on, committing turnovers on five consecutive possessions during a 9-0 Penn run. The Longhorns went nearly 10 minutes without a field goal, but they finally regrouped and put together an 8-0 run, including a three-point play by GiGi Mazionyte that drew the third foul on Stipanovich.

Chassidy Fussell gave Texas its first lead since early in the game with a 3-pointer that made it 44-43 with 14 1/2 minutes left, part of a 14-0 run that turned an eight-point deficit into a six-point lead. McGee-Stafford’s three-point play with 10:27 remaining put the Longhorns ahead 57-45, and they led by double-digits the rest of the way.

“My teammates needed me to demand the ball in the post,” McGee-Stafford said, “so that’s what I did for them.”

Looking for comments?

We welcome your comments on this story, but please be civil. Do not use profanity, hate speech, threats, personal abuse or any device to draw undue attention. Our policy requires those wishing to post here to use their real identity.

Our commenting policy | Facebook commenting FAQ | Why Facebook?





Wednesday, November 26Full Scoreboard
No games today
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, November 26Full Scoreboard
Portland 11/26 7:00 PM ET
Charlotte TV: CSN-NW, SPSO
Washington 11/26 7:00 PM ET
Cleveland TV: CSN-DC, FSN-OH
Golden State 11/26 7:00 PM ET
Orlando TV: CSN-BA, FSN-FL
Brooklyn 11/26 7:00 PM ET
Philadelphia TV: YES, CSN-PHI
Toronto 11/26 7:30 PM ET
Atlanta TV: SN 360, SPSO
New York 11/26 7:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: ESPN, MSG, FSN-SW
LA Clippers 11/26 7:30 PM ET
Detroit TV: FSN-PT, FSN-DET
Sacramento 11/26 8:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CSN-CA, ROOT-SW
Milwaukee 11/26 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FSN-WI, FSN-N+
Utah 11/26 8:00 PM ET
Oklahoma City TV: FSN-OK
Indiana 11/26 8:30 PM ET
San Antonio TV: FSN-IN, FSN-SW
Denver 11/26 9:00 PM ET
Phoenix TV: Altitude2, FSN-AZ
Memphis 11/26 10:30 PM ET
LA Lakers TV: NBA TV, SPSO, TWC SN
Full Scoreboard
Week 13Full Scoreboard
Thursday
Chicago 12:30 PM ET
Detroit TV: CBS
Philadelphia 4:30 PM ET
Dallas TV: FOX
Seattle 8:30 PM ET
San Francisco TV: NBC
Sunday
San Diego 1:00 PM ET
Baltimore TV: CBS
Cleveland 1:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: CBS
Tennessee 1:00 PM ET
Houston TV: CBS
Washington 1:00 PM ET
Indianapolis TV: FOX
NY Giants 1:00 PM ET
Jacksonville TV: FOX
Carolina 1:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FOX
New Orleans 1:00 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: FOX
Oakland 1:00 PM ET
St. Louis TV: CBS
Cincinnati 1:00 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: CBS
Arizona 4:05 PM ET
Atlanta TV: FOX
New England 4:25 PM ET
Green Bay TV: CBS
Denver 8:30 PM ET
Kansas City TV: NBC
Monday
Miami 8:30 PM ET
NY Jets TV: ESPN
Full Scoreboard
Wednesday, November 26Full Scoreboard
Washington 11/26 7:00 PM ET
NY Islanders TV: CSN-DC+, MSG+
Winnipeg 11/26 7:00 PM ET
Buffalo TV: SN1, MSG-BUF
Philadelphia 11/26 7:30 PM ET
Detroit TV: NBCSN, TCN, FSN-DET+
NY Rangers 11/26 7:30 PM ET
Tampa Bay TV: MSG 2, SUN
Carolina 11/26 7:30 PM ET
Florida TV: FSN-CAR, FSN-FL
Toronto 11/26 7:30 PM ET
Pittsburgh TV: TVA Sports, SN, ROOT-PIT
Los Angeles 11/26 8:00 PM ET
Minnesota TV: FSN-W, FSN-N
Chicago 11/26 9:00 PM ET
Colorado TV: TVA 2, CSN-CH, Altitude
Calgary 11/26 10:30 PM ET
San Jose TV: SN-W, CSN-CA
Full Scoreboard