Charli Collier scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as No. 6 Texas shut down No. 2 Maryland’s high-powered offense for a 64-61 win Sunday night that sent the Longhorns to the Elite Eight as the lowest seed still alive in the women’s NCAA Tournament.
The Terrapins had the highest-scoring offense in the country during the regular season and averaged 99 points in the first two rounds before running into a Texas defensive wall that slowed the pace to a grinding halt.
Texas tied it at 59-59 on Celeste Taylor’s jumper in the final minute, then took the lead when Kyra Lambert scooped up a loose ball near midcourt and coasted in for a layup with 45 seconds left.
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After Maryland’s Diamond Miller missed a twisting layup, Lauren Ebo snagged the rebound and quickly fired the ball to Lambert who was fouled. She made one of two free throws before Maryland’s Katie Benzan missed a 3-pointer. Celeste Taylor then made one of two free throws for a four-point lead.
Texas (21-9) advances to Tuesday’s Hemisfair Region final against No. 1 South Carolina, which beat fifth-seeded Georgia Tech earlier Sunday.
A win there would send Texas to the Final Four for the first time since 2003. And they would get there with first-year coach Vic Schaefer, who left a powerhouse program at Mississippi State to build another with the Longhorns. Chants of “Texas Fight” roared from the Texas fans at the Alamodome after the final buzzer. The team, led by Schaefer, ran up to a riser in front of the fans and had a socially distant celebration with them.
“Coach said in the beginning, he said nobody’s going to believe in us, but us, and we came out here, we started out really slow, a 9-0 run, but we believed in each other,” Collier said. “We pulled ourselves together closer in the huddle and we said we’re going to get this done, we’re going to make history and we’re going to go to the Elite Eight.”
Texas has made its deep run in the tournament on the strength of guard play in support Collier, who has already announced she will turn pro as the projected No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
Taylor finished with 15 points, Joanne Allen-Taylor scored 14 and Lambert scored 10, taking her last free throws with gauze in her nostril after taking an earlier blow to the face.
Miller scored 21 points to lead Maryland (26-3).
Maryland was just 5 of 22 on 3-pointers. Benzan, who led the nation at 51 percent, made just two, none in the second half.
Texas guard Audrey Warren left the game with 4:50 left to play after hitting her head on the floor when she tangled with two Maryland players for a rebound. She stayed on the floor for a few minutes before she taken the locker room for evaluation for a concussion. Warren finished with eight points and four rebounds.
Warren returned to the court for the postgame celebration with her teammates.