Basketball

Texas women’s basketball playing for a spot in the Final Four

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The Texas women’s basketball program looks to advance to its first Final Four since 2003 in head coach Vic Schaefer’s first season in Austin. The Longhorns face South Carolina, the No. 1 seed in the Hemisfair Region, with tipoff at 6 p.m. on ESPN.

The Gamecocks are 25-4 entering the contest with their losses to ranked teams NC State, UConn, Tennessee, and Texas A&M, three of which were ranked in the top 10 at the time. They’re led by head coach Dawn Staley and are looking for their third Final Four in six seasons.

Staley and Schaefer have faced off several times since Schaefer’s first season at Mississippi State in 2012-13, and Schaefer has won just three of the contests. Their biggest matchup was the 2017 National Championship game, which USC took 67-55.

Texas is the lowest remaining seed in the Elite Eight as a six-seed, defeating Bradley, UCLA, and two-seed Maryland on its path to the fourth round. The Terrapins led the nation in scoring at over 90 points per game, and the Longhorns held them 30 points under their season average in Sunday’s 64-61 upset.

The Longhorns are led by Charli Collier, who averages 19.5 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. Three other Longhorns, Celeste Taylor, Joanne Allen-Taylor, and Audrey Warren, have double-digit scoring averages.

Collier is the star on the team and has already declared for the 2021 WNBA Draft where she is likely the No. 1 overall pick. She’ll face a tough matchup in Aliyah Boston, who averages 13.9 points and 11.5 rebounds for the Gamecocks. Boston has also blocked 75 shots this season, twice Collier’s total of 34.

Since the 2003 Final Four run, Texas has appeared in the Elite Eight on one other occasion in 2016. The Longhorns fell to eventual national champions UConn in Karen Aston’s fourth season.

A win for Schaefer would result in his third Final Four as a head coach, joining his two other appearances in the national semifinals at Mississippi State in 2017 and 2018.

The winner of Tuesday’s contest faces the winner of the game between Louisville and Stanford which takes place following Texas’ matchup.

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Cover photo courtesy of the NCAA, by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images