No. 5 seed Texas to take on No. 12 Penn in Sunday’s NCAA Tournament game

Jori Epstein

The Longhorns have put on their dancing shoes with a No. 5 seed as they head to the Big Dance for a date with No. 12 Penn. And head coach Karen Aston says they’re putting in their all.

“As a coach, most of what you feel about your team is how they react to practice and I feel good about the way they’re preparing,” Aston said. “They’re focusing on the little things, paying attention to details.”

Coming off a 67-60 Big 12 Tournament semifinal loss to No. 7 West Virginia, the Longhorns spent no time moping around. The team immediately focused on preparing for the tournament, building off mistakes as a foundation for improvement.

“We got a little too high when we beat Oklahoma in the [Big 12] tournament,” Aston said. “In less than 24 hours we had to turn around and play again and we didn’t get our motors going. If we’re fortunate enough to win one game, we’ll learn how to better prepare ourselves for the next.”

Advancing past the Ivy League champion Quakers (22-6, 12-2) is among Texas’ goals for its first NCAA postseason game since 2012. The Longhorns hold a 32-25 record in their 26 tournament appearances but just one title in 1986 to show for it.

Though Texas (21-11, 11-7) faced the 10th toughest schedule in the nation this year compared to Penn’s 130th, Aston isn’t taking her competition lightly. She said she watched a lot of film over spring break to scout out the competition.

“They’re very solid across the board,” Aston said of Penn. “They had people who can shoot and a presence in the paint.”

But Aston doesn’t doubt her own squad against the Quakers. She said she predicted great things from the 24th-RPI team since season’s start.

“We have talent and really good players,” Aston said. “It’s just a matter of them believing they’re good and putting the chemistry together. The core group is talented enough to go places. I don’t think we’re through yet at all.”

Texas faces Penn for the first time in program history at 2 p.m. Sunday in College Park, Maryland. The game will be televised on ESPN.