Womens Basketball: Maine vs Texas - D1SportsNet


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Womens basketball

Maine vs Texas

The Maine women's basketball team has already had its share of things to celebrate this March.

After winning the America East regular season championship, the Black Bears punched their ticket to the NCAA Tournament by claiming their conference tournament title.

Then Maine was staring down a possible matchup with Connecticut in the opening round of the national tournament, but it was instead sent to Texas where the No. 15 seed Black Bears will face the No. 2 seed Longhorns on Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.

Of course, Maine (23-9) is still a significant underdog against Texas (26-6), which was ranked eighth in the latest Associated Press poll. The Longhorns enter the NCAA Tournament on the momentum of winning 11 of their last 13 games.

Texas' only defeats in the last two months have come against No. 1 Connecticut and No. 2 Baylor. The Longhorns cruised through the first two rounds of the Big 12 Tournament before falling to Baylor for the third time this season.

"I thought we didn't look tired of playing or competing, so when you look at just taking it one game at a time, I think they will be able to do that," Texas coach Karen Aston said. "The good thing about all of the teams that we've played, even the last two losses that we've had -- even to Baylor -- when you look at that and you look at the UConn loss, you're looking at some of the best teams in the country that we have been toe-to-toe with. I don't think there will be anybody that we'll be intimidated by or anyone that they'll say okay we just can't compete with them."

Texas proved its mettle in a four-point loss against Connecticut on Jan. 15 in Austin. The Longhorns led that game by five points midway through the third quarter and Texas finished with four starters in double figures.

That indicates that Texas will be tough to oust from the tournament on its home floor.

"Ours fans are like our sixth man," Longhorns guard Brooke McCarty "I've said it all year, our fans have been great, especially at the home games, but even on the road. We have a lot of fans come with us on the road. They give us energy and it's just a great atmosphere when everybody is into the game."

McCarty, a 5-foot-4 senior point guard, fuels Texas on the offensive end, averaging 13.9 points and 4.5 assists a game. She combines with swing player Ariel Atkins and center Jatarie White to make the Longhorns dangerous from all three levels on the offensive end.

Maine will counter with a dynamic perimeter shooting squad led by guards Blanca Millan and Julie Brosseau, who have made 69 and 68 shots from beyond the arc, respectively, this season.

While the Black Bears haven't had as many opportunities against top-level women's college basketball opponents as Texas, Maine has faced top 15 competition against Ohio State, Mississippi State and Duke. Following their ambitious nonconference schedule, the Black Bears have won 14 of their last 15 to gain confidence heading to Austin.