AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lashann Higgs scored 19 points and Brooke McCarty scored 15 as Texas booked its fourth consecutive trip to the Sweet 16 with an 85-65 win over Arizona State in the women’s NCAA Tournament on Monday night.
Higgs scored 15 in the first half, and McCarty took over in the third quarter with 10 points in a 14-2 run that pushed the Longhorns to a big lead and never let the Sun Devils recover. McCarty had a pair of 3-pointers in the run and her nifty drives and assists made sure the No. 2-seed Longhorns (28-6) avoided the same kind of home court upsets that hit several host teams earlier in the evening.
The No. 7-seed Sun Devils had played eventual national champion South Carolina within a minute of a huge upset in the second round last season, but saw any hopes of catching the Longhorns disappear in the decisive third quarter.
McCarty, even at just 5-foot-4 and the smallest player on the court, had a game-high 10 rebounds, often using them to kick-start Texas in transition. The Longhorns are one of the top rebounding teams in the country and dominated the Sun Devils on the boards 40-19 in a physical matchup.
Kianna Ibis scored 27 to lead Arizona State (22-13), an effort that kept the Sun Devils within 40-35 at halftime, but scored just eight over the final two quarters.
Texas hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA tournament for the third consecutive year. The Longhorns are 48-6 at the Frank Erwin Center over the last three seasons, including six wins in the tournament.
The Longhorns’ fourth year in the Sweet 16 continues a resurgence for a program for a program that produced the women’s tournament’s first undefeated national champion in 1985. Texas hasn’t been back to the Final Four since 2003.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils had the best defense in the Pac 12 this season, holding opponents to 12 points or less in a quarter 51 times. Texas shredded the Sun Devils with their strength on the boards and speed in transition. The Longhorns scored 22 points in the first quarter, then McCarty ripped the Sun Devils for 25 in the third.
Texas: McCarty and Higgs drive Texas, but the Longhorns will be looking for more from forwards Joyner Holmes and Jatarie White as they get deeper into the tournament. Those two combined for 20 points and nine rebounds.
Texas will play No. 3 seed UCLA in the Kansas City.