Women's Hoops: Top Seed Horns Advance to Semis

DALLAS, Texas-- Sophomore guard Nina Norman and Big 12 Freshman of the Year Tiffany Jackson each scored 16 points to lead the No. 1 seeded Texas Longhorns to a 64-54 victory over No. 9 seed Iowa State Wednesday in the quarterfinals of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Tournament at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas. The big difference occurred at the foul line, where the Longhorns went 20-for-26 from the charity stripe, with ISU making six of eight free throw attempts.

After a 29-29 tie at the half, No. 2 nationally ranked Texas, now 27-3, scored nine unanswered points to open the second half, and never trailed in the final 20 minutes. Texas held the Cyclones (15-14) scoreless for a span of 9:17 - ISU's longest scoring drought of the year by more than two minutes. Iowa State did not score in the final 6:05 of the first half and then netted its first second half point 3:12 into the final period.

Texas, now 27-3 overall, advances to its third Big 12 Tournament semifinal in the last five years. This includes last year's tourney, which was won by the Longhorns at Reunion Arena as the No. 1 seed. UT beat No. 3 Texas Tech, 67-57 to win the 2003 Big 12 Championship.

Texas will face No. 5 seed Baylor in the Big 12 tourney semifinals at 6 p.m. (Central) on Thursday, March 11 at Reunion Arena. Baylor, ranked No. 14 nationally, upended No. 4 seed and No. 10 ranked Texas Tech, 80-72, in another Wednesday quarterfinal game.

UT and Baylor will meet for the third time this year. The two teams split their home-and-home series, with Baylor winning 78-64 (Jan. 14) in Waco, and UT stopping the Lady Bears, 73-72 in double overtime on Feb. 25th in Austin.

Against Iowa State, the Longhorns came out of the locker room firing in the second half and quickly built their lead to 38-29, holding the Cyclones scoreless for the first 3:12 of the period. Jackson had six of the team's nine points in that span. Texas maintained a lead between eight and 10 points until the team was able to pull ahead by 14 with 6:43 to play on a Norman jumper.

Iowa State would get no closer than seven points - 61-54 with 00:24 to play - as Texas hit three-of-four free throws in the final seconds to ice the game.

Iowa State's hot first-half shooting cooled dramatically in the second half as the Cyclones only connected for nine of 26 shots (34.6 percent), while Texas took control of the game with 48 percent shooting (11-for-23). Texas also took control of the glass in the second half, overcoming a 17-11 halftime rebounding deficit to match ISU's 30 rebounds for the game at the final buzzer.

A trio of Longhorns - senior Stacy Stephens (Winnsboro, Texas) and junior guard Jamie Carey (Thornton, Colo.) and junior forward Mercedes Williams (Houston, Texas) - each added eight points in the victory. Stephens also had a game-high seven rebounds, five of which came in the decisive second half. Off the bench, Williams also contributed six rebounds in 13 minutes of action.

Both teams shot an identical 41.7 percent for the game, both going 20-for-48 from the floor. Texas, which was staring at a 17-11 rebounding deficit in the first half, out-rebounded ISU 19-13 in the second stanza, as both teams finished with 30 boards. Texas dominated in points off turnovers (19-5), as ISU committed 21 turnovers. UT had 14 turnovers.

Texas had 11 steals in the game, including three each from the backcourt tandem of Norman and Carey. Norman also added two of the team's three blocks.

In the first half, the Cyclones started the game red-shot from the floor, hitting nine of their first 11 shots to jump out to a 22-17 lead on a 3-pointer by junior Lisa Kriener with 10:24 to play. Three of those first nine ISU field goals were 3-pointers, as the Cyclones went six-for-11 from long range in the first 20 minutes.

Texas then fought back, out-scoring ISU, 9-3, over the next 1:10 to pull within one, 22-21 after two free throws by Williams. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Cyclone freshman Lyndsey Medders and a free throw helped ISU go on a 7-2 run as ISU pushed its lead to six, 29-23, with 6:05 to go.

After going 9-for-11 to start the game, the Cyclones were held to just two field goals over the final 10 minutes, going two-for-11 from the floor during that span.

Iowa State would not score another point in the last 6:05, as the Longhorns pulled even at the half, 29-29. UT scored the final six points in the half on two free throws each by Stephens and Jackson and a Norman jumper.

The first half saw Iowa State shoot 50 percent (11-for-22) from the floor and go one-for-two in free throws, while the Longhorns were nine-for-25 from the field (36 percent) and stayed even with a nine-for-10 free throw effort. ISU held the edge in both rebounding (17-11) and fast-break points (14 to UT's four), while Texas had the advantage in points off turnovers (12-1). ISU committed 13 turnovers while Texas had just five.

In the Baylor-Texas Tech game, Baylor was paced by a double-double from sophomore post Sophia Young (game-highs of 26 points and 13 rebounds), while sophomore center Steffanie Blackmon added 13 points. Baylor turned the ball over only eight times and shot 51 percent from the floor (33-65). Texas Tech is now 24-7 and awaits an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Lady Raiders shot 45.6 percent (26-57) and out-rebounded the Lady Bears, 38-33, but saw Baylor dominate scoring in the paint (42 Baylor points in the paint to Tech's 30).

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