Texas women’s basketball blows past Fairfield 70-52, advances to second round of March Madness

Amsal Madhani, Senior Sports Reporter

Fresh off a victory in the Big 12 championship, No. 2-seed Texas traveled back to Frank Erwin Center to continue its hot streak against No. 15-seed Fairfield in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Winners of 11 straight games, the Longhorns made it 12 straight in a win-or-go-home environment, defeating Fairfield 70-52.

With an average of 22 points per game in the Big 12 tournament, freshman guard Rori Harmon came into the game playing some of her best basketball this year, and she wasn’t planning to stop.

The freshman of the year came out the gates firing on all cylinders, scoring a quick four points in the first quarter to help Texas jump to an early 14-9 lead over the Stags.

But the Longhorns weren’t done just yet, as they started the second quarter red-hot thanks to some quality plays from freshman forward Latasha Lattimore. In just seven minutes of play in the first half, Lattimore posted four points, four rebounds, one block and was a +15 when on the court.

Her efforts in the second quarter helped Texas jump to a 39-18 lead over Fairfield at the end of the first half.

With all the momentum on their side, the Longhorns continued with more of the same in the second half against the Stags, applying immense pressure on the defensive end and scoring at will in the paint and holding off Fairfield the rest of the way.

The Longhorns were led by Aaliyah Moore, an anchor in the paint all game long. The freshman forward had a game-high 18 points on a perfect 10-10 shooting from the free-throw line and brought down a game-high 10 rebounds.

“(Moore) plays hard. That’s the reason why she was the sixth-ranked kid in the country,” Texas head coach Vic Schaefer said. “I love her motor, I love her intensity, and I love her no fear … the kid just plays her guts out.”

Along with Moore, Harmon was in the middle of everything for Texas. Although she struggled from the free-throw line, going 2-7, she still put up 10 points and facilitated the ball at a high level, dishing out a game-high 11 assists. Harmon also put up a solid night defensively, recording two steals in Friday night’s win over the Stags.

The Longhorns got the job done in the first round of the NCAA tournament. They played hard on the defensive end, forcing 22 Fairfield turnovers that led to 20 points going the other way. Texas also dominated on the boards, out-rebounding the Stags 38-28.

The Longhorns will now turn their attention to Sunday, when they face Utah in the second round of the NCAA tournament at the Frank Erwin Center.

Despite the victory on Friday, Schaefer feels that there is still some room for improvement.

“We’re going to have to play better than this,” Schaefer said. “I’ve done this long enough, and you’re not doing anybody any justice when you sugarcoat things. If we want to win on Sunday, we’re going to have to be different.”