West Virginia’s and Texas’ dream seasons came to a disappointing close Tuesday night, leaving just two Big 12 teams remaining in the NCAA Women’s Basketball Championship. And the Baylor Bears represented on both sides of the bracket with both the men’s team and the Lady Bears’ advancing to the Sweet 16 semifinals round.
No. 2 seed West Virginia, the regular-season Big 12 co-champions, had lost just four games all season, and the Lady Mountaineers appeared to have things in hand in their NCAA Tournament second-round game with LSU on Tuesday with just over five minutes remaining in the game. West Virginia led by seven points, 63-56, when the seventh-seeded Lady Tigers of LSU went on a 16-2 run to erase the West Virginia advantage and take a seven-point lead of their own.
The contest, played on LSU’s home court in Baton Rouge, was littered with scoring runs by both teams. LSU jumped on the Lady Mountaineers early pulling out to a 17-9 lead before WVU responded with a 12-2 run to briefly take the lead. West Virginia trailed by two at halftime. Early in the second half, the Lady Mountaineers put together a 16-2 run to go up by five points. That was preceded by a 9-2 run at the beginning of the second stanza by LSU.
Senior Asya Bussie had 21 points for West Virginia in a losing cause. Brita Holmes, the team’s leading scorer during its terrific championship season, had 12 points.
The Lady Mountaineers were looking for their first second-round win in seven previous tries in the NCAA Women’s Tournament. LSU advances to the women’s Sweet 16, where its opponent will be Louisville.
The Lady Longhorns of Texas suffered a similar second-round fate, falling to No. 4-seeded Maryland on its home court in College Park, Md., by a final count if 69-64.
The score was tied at the hall at 31-all, and the game remained close after the break. With under 30 seconds to go in the contest, Texas’ Nekia Jones, who had made 20 of 40 three-point shots during the season, got open for a trey that would have tied the game, but it was off the mark. On the Lady Longhorns’ previous possession, Chassidy Fussell had a three-point attempt rim out that would have given Texas, a five seed, a two-point lead.
“I would want those same players to take those same shots,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said in the postgame press conference.
But it just wasn’t to be for the Lady Longhorns, who finished the 2013-14 season with a 22-12. That is a dramatic turnaround from their 12-18 record a year ago.
Maryland (22-6) moves on to play No. 1 seed Tennessee in the round of 16. The Lady Terrapins are now 18-3 in NCAA Tournament games played on their home court.
While West Virginia and Texas are headed home, with their seasons reaching a disappointing end on Tuesday night, the Baylor Lady Bears (31-4), the No. 2 seed in the Notre Dame Regional, and the No. 5-seeded Oklahoma State Cowgirls (25-8) are still alive as the Women’s Tournament moves into the Sweet 16 this weekend. Baylor will play No. 3-seeded Kentucky (26-8), and the Cowgirls will go up against No. 1 seed and undefeated Notre Dame (34-0).
If Baylor and OSU both survive their regional semifinal games, they would meet in the regional final.