No. 19 Women's Basketball hangs on for dramatic 81-79 win over San Diego in title game of Maggie Dixon Surf 'N Slam Classic
SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- A driving 8-foot shot by All-Tournament Team point guard Carla Cortijo with 3.7 seconds left in the game lifted the No. 19 Texas women's basketball team to a dramatic 81-79 victory over host San Diego in the championship game of the Maggie Dixon Surf `N Slam Classic late Friday evening at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
Texas, now 11-2, pushes its win streak to nine games. The loss snapped San Diego's four-game win streak, and the Toreros fall to 8-5. That nine-game win streak is the longest for Texas since midway through the 2003-04 season.
Cortijo (Carolina, Puerto Rico), with 11 points, was joined on the All-Tournament Team by two teammates: sophomore guard Brittainey Raven (Fort Worth, Texas), who pumped in a career-high 23 points to go with eight rebounds and a team-high seven assists, and junior post Ashley Lindsey (Austin, Texas) who collected her second double-double of the two-game tourney with 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Lindsey also added a season-high tying six blocks. Sophomore forward Earnesia Williams added 14 points to the winning effort.
The Longhorns led the entire game until the final two minutes, as the Toreros took their first lead, 74-73, on a jumper from the top of the key by junior post Amber Sprague with 2:04 to play. Texas countered on its next possession when Raven hit a driving layup for the 75-74 UT lead with 1:30 to go. After a USD missed basket on its next possession, Raven sank both ends of a one-and-one free throw opportunity to push the lead to three, 77-74, with 1:04 to go.
Sprague came down the court and nailed a short jumper to pull USD to within one, 77-76, 14 seconds later. On UT's next possession, Cortijo found Raven on a backdoor cut for another driving layup and a 79-76 Longhorn edge.
USD senior point guard Amanda Rego then tied the game when she was fouled under the basket after hitting a layup with 21 seconds left on the clock. Rego sank the free throw to tie the game, 79-79, and USD immediately called a timeout after the foul shot.
Texas inbounded the ball on the baseline and Cortijo brought the ball upcourt. At the top of the foul line, she used a screen by Lindsey and drove down the middle of the lane, scoring with 3.7 seconds left for the victory.
Rego tried a desperation 3-pointer from half court at the buzzer, which bounced hard off the left corner of the backboard as time expired.
The Longhorns repeat as Surf 'N Slam champions, having won last year's tournament at Jenny Craig Pavilion by defeating Oregon State (65-64) in the first round and San Diego in the title game (73-45) last December.
Texas maintained the lead throughout the first half and went into halftime with a 41-35 lead, thanks to a torrid shooting start which saw UT connect on 12 of its first 16 field goal attempts, which put Texas up by 10, 27-17, with 11:48 to go. Lindsey had eight points and Cortijo seven as the Longhorns started the game hot from the floor.
USD also shot well to start the game as the Toreros made nine of their first 13 shots before missing seven in a row. In that USD drought, Texas pulled ahead by its largest lead of the game - 14 points (35-21) - with 8:25 remaining on two Aubry Cook free throws. After that, San Diego answered with a 14-6 run to close out the first half, with Rego scoring nine of those 14 points.
Texas shot 51.4 percent in the first half while USD made just 38.2 percent of its shots. Lindsey led the way for the Horns with 12 points, six rebounds and three blocks in 18 minutes of action. USD stayed close by shooting seven-for-nine from the foul line to UT's two-for-two effort.
In the second half the Longhorns pushed their lead to 11 points five times, the last coming following a Kat Nash jumper which gave UT a 69-49 edge with 10:40 to go. After that, however, the Toreros chipped away, as Rego netted 10 of their next 19 points as USD cut the lead to three, 71-68, on a Rego layup with 4:26 left. A Raven layup and Sprague layup to counter gave Texas a 73-70 edge with 3:38 to go before Sprague hit two straight jumpers to give USD its first lead, 75-74, setting up the last minute dramatics.
Sprague, with 23 points in the championship game, was named Tournament MVP. She was joined on the All-Tournament Team by Rego (22 points, game-high 11 assists, eight rebounds).
Texas made 45.7 percent of its field goals for the game, hitting 32 of 70 shots, while USD connected on 44.8 percent of its shots (30-67). Texas owned a 42-34 edge in rebounding, and was perfect from the foul line, going 13-for-13. The Toreros were 16-for-18 in free throws.
Neither team committed many turnovers, as Texas had a season-low 12 TO's and USD had just eight.
Texas had advanced to the championship with Friday's first-round upset over DePaul (91-81), while USD defeated Appalachian State, 79-60.
In the third-place game, DePaul (11-1) cruised by Appalachian State (2-10) by a 111-64 score behind a game-high 23 points from sophomore guard Deidre Naughton and 18 points from senior forward Caprice Smith.
Texas has ended its three-game road swing, and the Longhorns will close out the non-conference portion of their regular season slate with a home game against Texas-Pan American at their own Frank Erwin Center on Friday, Jan. 4 (7 p.m. Central). Texas is undefeated at home to date with a 5-0 mark.
After that UTPA game, Texas opens up Big 12 Conference play five days later, hitting the road to face Nebraska on Wednesday, Jan. 9 in Lincoln, Neb. (7:05 p.m.). Texas was picked fourth in the 2007-08 Big 12 preseason coaches poll after going 6-10 a year ago to tie for seventh in the league.
Give credit to San Diego. I've been watching a lot of tape on them. They are an excellent club getting great senior leadership from their point guard (Amanda) Rego. They have such a dominant post player in (Amber) Sprague. They are all tough players. They beat a good UCLA team here at their home court earlier in the year, and they play with a lot of confidence at home. They certainly were ready to play tonight.
That said, we've got a lot of work to do on defense. I was disappointed in our effort. We were not moving our feet well out there on "D". For instance, Rego got to the foul line 10 times, which showed me that she was easily able to penetrate on us.
We did do some positive things. We kept our composure in a tight game, and we were perfect from the free throw line, making all 13 of our shots. That was big. San Diego (16-18) was very good from the line, too, but they missed two free throws which could have been the difference. We work hard in practice on making free throws when we're fatigued, and we run every time there are misses, so there's great focus by the players when they step to the line.
On UT's final possession with the score tied 79-79: We called the same play on our last two trips down the floor, where we put the ball in Carla (Cortijo's) hands and let her made the read. She made two great reads in a row. I want to have the ball in her hands in those situations. I trust Carla to make good decisions. The first time we ran the play, Carla found Britt (Brittainey Raven) and hit her on the baseline going backdoor for the layup. The last possession, Carla kept the ball after she looked for Ashley but couldn't get the ball to her. Instead, Carla used a screen and drove to the basket and made a tough shot. Both of those times Carla was excellent under pressure.
REDSHIRT SOPHOMORE POINT GUARD Carla Cortijo (11 points, including scoring the game-winning shot with 3.7 seconds left)
On the pressure that Texas faced down the stretch as San Diego fought back: Every timeout, we talked about staying focused and just running our plays. Their point guard (Rego) was doing a great job on both sides of the floor and making good decisions, and I had to match her. And, the crowd was loud and we talked about not letting them get to us. In the end, it was all about fighting and who wanted it most. We worked really hard at the end to get the good shots and came up on top.
SOPHOMORE GUARD Brittainey Raven (career-high tying 23 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists)
We are all very comfortable with having the ball in Carla's hands. She does such a great job with the ball, and when she's running the point, we know we'll get the best shot we can with her making the passing decisions she does. She found me for some great passes tonight. We are so confident when she has the ball and tonight, she won the game for us with her great passing and then her winning shot.