Women's Basketball posts NCAA first-round 72-55 win over Minnesota behind Raven's 19 points
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Texas made an emphatic statement in its first game back in the NCAA tournament since 2005.
Brittainy Raven scored 19 points and the eighth-seeded Longhorns (22-12) routed No. 9 seed Minnesota 72-55 on Sunday.
"I just get into a rhythm and it's easy for me to hit shots," Raven said. "I get a feel out there on the court, and my teammates do a good job of getting me the ball."
Erneisha Bailey added 16 for Texas, which will play top-ranked Connecticut in the second round Tuesday. The Huskies beat Cornell 87-41 earlier Sunday.
Emily Fox led Minnesota with 23 points, six above her season average. Leslie Knight added 12 for the Gophers, who finished the season 20-12.
The Golden Gophers trailed 49-37 with 10:32 remaining after a 12-5 run, but that was as close as they would get.
Raven hit a 3-pointer on the other end and Texas stretched the lead to 58-41 on a pair of free throws from Earnesia Williams with 8 minutes left. It was a 25-point lead with just over 5 minutes left, and Texas cruised from there.
The Longhorns ran out early to a 17-5 lead, forcing eight Minnesota turnovers and turning several into transition buckets. Bailey hit her first three shots, while the entire Gopher team was shooting 2-for-11 from the field.
"By us starting out the way we started, it was just contagious," Bailey said. "Everyone kind of just locked down, really."
Minnesota went almost 4 minutes without a field goal, but used foul shooting to stay in the game, and trailed just 21-18 after Ashley Ellis-Milan hit two free throws with 5:03 left in the first half.
But the Longhorns closed the half on an 11-0 run and went into intermission leading 32-18.
"We dug ourselves a little bit of a hole in the first half," Fox said. "We got a little momentum, we just couldn't pull it together."
The Gophers shot 31 percent from the field, but just 18 percent before halftime. Texas, however, committed 10 first-half fouls, and Minnesota converted 8-of-12 free throws.
The loss was Minnesota's fourth in six games, and follows its 56-51 defeat by Michigan State in the first round of the Big Ten tournament. The Gophers, who lost 11 players after the 2006 season, just six by graduation, made it to the tournament after a one-year absence.
Texas has won six of its last seven, the lone loss coming to Oklahoma State in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament. The Big 12 is 8-0 so far in the NCAA tournament.
"I think top to bottom, it's the strongest conference in the country," said Texas coach Gail Goestenkors.
Tuesday's game will be a rematch between Goestenkors and UConn's Geno Auriemma. Goestenkors led Duke to an overtime victory over Connecticut on the same court in 2006 to earn the Blue Devils a trip to the Final Four.
· Texas advances to second-round play to face the nation's No. 1 ranked team and the top No. 1 seed in the NCAA Championship ... Texas and UConn have met three times, with Connecticut winning all three games- in the 2003 Final Four semifinals, 71-69 at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta (April 6, 2003); in Storrs, Conn. (73-57, Jan. 17, 2005) and in Austin (71-58, Feb. 12, 2006)
· Texas first-year head coach Gail Goestenkors improves her NCAA Championship first-round record to a perfect 14-0 all-time ... Goestenkors has led teams to 14 consecutive NCAA Championships, the last 13 years with Duke University (1995-2007) before taking over the Texas coaching reigns this year for retired Jody Conradt
· the Big 12 Conference sent eight teams to the 2008 NCAA Championship ...prior to the Texas-Minnesota game, the Big 12 Conference stood a perfect 7-0 in NCAA first round play this weekend, as Texas was the final team to tip off for the league ....
· with 19 points, sophomore guard Brittainey Raven, UT's leading scorer at 15.4 ppg, notched double-figure scoring for the 33rd time in 34 games ... this was her 13th game in row netting double-digit scoring
· Texas' lone senior, 5-9 guard Erneshia Bailey had a season-high 16 points, one shy of her career high of 17 points which came against Texas State on Nov. 14, 2006 as a junior ... Bailey scored in double figures for the 12th time this year and for the fourth time in the last seven contests
· with four blocks, junior post Ashley Lindsey now has 93 single-season blocks .. those 89 blocks are the second-most season total in UT history and Lindsey is now four rejections shy of tying the Longhorns single-season record of 97 blocks, held by 6-9 Ellen Bayer ... Bayer had her school-record 97 blocks in 1988-89 as a junior
· the Longhorns held the Golden Gophers to 17.9 percent shooting in the first half (5-28), which was the second-lowest field goal percentage in any half by a Texas opponent this year .. The lowest was when Lamar hit just 17.1 percent of its first-half shots (going 6-35) against Texas on Nov. 15, 2007 in Austin
· the 18 points allowed by Texas in the first half was the fourth lowest point total in a first half scored by a Texas opponent this year
· this was the first Big Ten opponent of the year for Texas ... Texas is now 33-9 all-time against Big Ten competition, a winning percentage of 78.6 percent ... Texas is now 4-0 all-time vs. Minnesota
· Goestenkors is now 3-0 in NCAA games played at Bridgeport, Connecticut's Arena at Harbor Yard ... In 2006, her Duke squad played in the NCAA regionals (Final 16/Final 8) and defeated Connecticut, 63-61 in the regional final to advance to the NCAA Women's Final Four in Boston (where they finished second)