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Texas 64, Maryland 61: Longhorns, 'proving people wrong,' return to the Elite Eight

SAN ANTONIO — For Texas, a season that was already sweet can now be considered elite.

Four Longhorns scored at least 10 points and sixth-seeded Texas overcame a 9-0 deficit to start the game to upset Maryland 64-61 in the Sweet 16 at the Alamodome on Sunday night. Texas (21-9) last made it to the Elite Eight in 2016; the Longhorns face No. 1-seeded South Carolina on Tuesday night.

"We're proving people wrong," junior forward Lauren Ebo said. "The work's not done; we still have three more games to get. Right now we're focusing on the next game and South Carolina."

Texas players celebrates Sunday night's 64-61 win over second-seeded Maryland in the Sweet 16 at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The sixth-seeded Longhorns advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time since 2016.

Texas was down by as many as 11 points in the first quarter and trailed 32-25 at halftime. But the Longhorns outscored second-seeded Maryland 24-15 in the 10 minutes after the break. They led 49-47 entering the fourth quarter.

The Longhorns and Terrapins exchanged blows in the final quarter that featured four lead changes. With 59 seconds remaining, Texas' Celeste Taylor hit a long jumper to tie the game 59-59. Eleven seconds later, the game's biggest sequence occurred.

As Maryland brought the ball up court, Ebo was able to deflect a pass thrown by All-American guard Ashley Owusu. That play by Ebo, a reserve who was inserted into the game a few minutes earlier because of an injury to starting forward Audrey Warren, set up a fast break bucket by Kyra Lambert. The Longhorns led 61-59.

"I saw that who I was defending wasn't as locked in as they probably should have been, and so I went for it," Ebo said. "I'm glad that Kyra got the steal and made the layup. Nothing really special. It's what we've been working on all year — ball denial."

Said Maryland coach Brenda Frese: "I think they did a great job of really denying that entry to the post."

Texas' Charli Collier shoots over Maryland's Angel Reese during the second half of Sunday's Sweet 16 win. The Longhorns will face No. 1-seeded South Carolina on Tuesday.

That 61-59 lead swelled to five points. Maryland missed four straight shots in the final minute before a basket at the very end.

This is Texas coach Vic Schaefer's fourth trip to the Elite Eight as a head coach. He previously led Mississippi State there in 2017, 2018 and 2019. But for his players, the Elite Eight seemed like a fantasy not too long ago.

The NCAA Tournament was canceled in 2020, and Texas was eliminated in the first round in 2019. That same season, Ebo was playing for a 12-18 Penn State team. And Lambert, who was then a point guard at Duke, was sitting out the season because of a knee injury.

"I've got a lot of kids that have never been in the NCAA Tournament on this team, and certainly not in the Sweet 16 or the Elite Eight," Schaefer said. "To see them respond right now is really — again, it's why we do what we do in coaching."

Maryland forward Mimi Collins reacts to a call as Texas guard Audrey Warren is injured on the floor. The Terrapins opened the game with a 9-0 run, but the nation's top-scoring offense was slowed over the final three quarters. "Basketball's a game of runs," UT's Celeste Taylor said. "They went on their run early and we came back and we shut them down."

Texas entered Sunday's Sweet 16 knowing it had to contend with the nation's top-scoring offense. Thirteen seconds after the opening tip, Terrapins sharp-shooter Katie Benzan knocked down an open 3-pointer.

Maryland (26-3) went on to score the game's first nine points. Less than four-and-a-half minutes in, the Terrapins were up 13-2. Texas had closed to 18-12 at the end of the first quarter.

The Longhorns eventually held a team that was averaging 91.8 points per game to its lowest score of the season. Maryland shot 40% for the game and committed 11 turnovers. After the first frame, the Terps didn't score more than 15 points in a quarter.

"Basketball's a game of runs. They went on their run early and we came back and we shut them down," Taylor said. "There were people out there saying that they were going to hang 100 on us. I think we took that personal, every last one of us took that personal."

Texas was led by Charli Collier, who scored 16 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Taylor also contributed a double-double performance with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Joanne Allen-Taylor and Lambert chipped in 14 and 10 points.

Tip-ins: Texas and South Carolina, the top seed in the Hemisfair region, will meet at the Alamodome at 6 p.m. on Tuesday. ... Maryland guard Diamond Miller led all scorers with 21 points. ... Benzan, a graduate transfer from Harvard who originally committed to Texas, finished with six points. The NCAA's leader in 3-point shooting percentage, Benzan hit two of her seven deep shots.