Texas women’s basketball faces Indiana in first round of NCAA Tournament

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Redshirt junior guard Ali Patberg leads the Indiana offense with an average of 16.0 points per game and has hit 41.8 percent of her shots from beyond the three-point line (photo courtesy of iuhoosiers.com).

By Steve Lansdale

AUSTIN, Texas — The University of Texas women’s basketball team’s season will continue Friday when the Longhorns face Indiana at 6 p.m. (Central Time) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Eugene, Oregon.

The No. 7-seed Longhorns enter the tournament with a 23-9 record, while the No. 10-seed Hoosiers arrive in Eugene with a 20-12 mark. After earning an at-large bid to the tournament, Indiana is making its sixth NCAA Tournament appearance, and its second under fifth-year head coach Teri Moren; Texas is making its 32nd appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

The Hoosiers lost to Iowa in the Big 10 Championship quarterfinals; Texas heads to Eugene after a 75-69 loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 Championship..

“It’s not really a seed that I’m surprised by,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “We probably made our bed, as far as the seed that we are, but as far as the matchup with Indiana, I think that it’s a good matchup for us. I haven’t seen them a whole lot, but I’ve seen them enough to know that we have a little bit of a similar style of play.”

Indiana is a steady defensive team that has outscored its opponents this season by an average of 69.1-64.7 points per game.

A year after winning the Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), IU is led by redshirt junior guard Ali Patberg, who is averaging a team-high 16.0 points per game. Patberg is a dangerous perimeter shooter who is almost as accurate from three-point range as she is overall; she has hit 41 of 98 shots (41.8 percent) from beyond the three-point line, and 157 of 359 (43.7 percent) overall.

The Hoosiers have outrebounded their opponents, 37.4-35.2. Leading the way for IU on the glass has been redshirt junior forward Brenna Wise, who leads the team with 7.0 boards per game.

Texas may be catching Indiana at the right time: IU started the season by winning its first 10 games, and 14 of its first 15; their loss to Iowa in the Big 10 Championship was the Hoosiers’ sixth setback in their last nine games.

The winner of Friday’s game will earn a second-round matchup against the winner of No. 2-seed Oregon and No. 15-seed Portland State.

Texas guard Sug Sutton said that the Longhorns can not afford to look ahead to a possible matchup with the Ducks, and instead have to focus on performing against Indiana in Friday’s first-round matchup.

“We’re excited, very thankful to be in the tournament,” Sutton said. “Not a lot of people are able to get in to the tournament, so every time we get a chance to be in the tournament, you’ve just got to be thankful for it.”

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