Gophers get the horns as Texas rolls to 72-55 win

;BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Texas is synonymous with anything big, and their women’s basketball team reinforced that sentiment once again Sunday against Minnesota.

The No. 9-seeded Gophers (20-12 overall, 11-7 Big Ten) lost 72-55 to a red-hot No. 8-seeded Texas team in their first-round matchup in the 2008 NCAA tournament.

The Longhorns, (22-12 overall, 7-9 Big 12) winners of six of their last seven games, used their speed and size to hand Minnesota its second consecutive first-round exit.

“They have length in the post,” senior Leslie Knight said. “They swatted a lot of shots. I don’t know how many shots they knocked out.”

Texas has nine players on its roster who stand 6 feet or taller and accounted for five blocks, while the Gophers only feature five 6-footers.

That inequality led to the Longhorns dominating the interior with 32 points in the paint compared to just 22 for Minnesota.

“We kind of let them get to us a little bit,” junior Emily Fox said. “Their long arms cut passing lanes.”

The Gophers trailed 32-18 after the first half and Fox tried to shoot her team back into the game, but her shot and the rest of her teammates had difficulty finding the twine as the Gophers shot 31 percent from the field.

“I think that Texas is an athletic team, and we needed to shot fake,” Knight said. “We should have learned the first time. We didn’t.”

Fox led Minnesota with 23 points on 7-for-20 shooting and made the only three-pointer for the Gophers on the evening.

“We didn’t put our best game together,” head coach Pam Borton said. “I didn’t feel like we executed as well as we needed to on both ends of the floor.”

Texas meanwhile couldn’t seem to miss as they went 27-for-53 from the field.

Guards Brittainey Raven and Erneisha Bailey provided most of the offense for the Longhorns by penetrating to the hoop as the two combined for 35 points on 13-for-22 shooting from the field.

The Longhorns move on to face No. 1 seed Connecticut in the second round while Minnesota is left to dwell on next season.

Fox and Knight represented the only players on the roster with NCAA experience, but the Gophers return the majority of the roster next year.

“I think it’s a great experience to get themselves here, play at this level and make them hungry to get back in the gym,” Borton said. “I think it’s going to make them hungry through next season for them to want to get back here and continue to advance.”