Texas takes down Utah 78-56, advances to Sweet 16 off career performance from Aaliyah Moore

Ethan Ferguson, Senior Sports Reporter

No. 2-seed Texas outplayed No. 7-seed Utah from the jump in the second round of the 2022 women’s NCAA tournament.

“We usually always wanna punch first,” freshman guard Rori Harmon said after the game.

On Sunday afternoon, the Longhorns did, combining tenacious defense with lights-out shooting to take down the Utes 78-56.

With a record of 28–6, Texas will appear in its second Sweet 16 showing in a row next weekend against the winner between No. 6-seed Ohio State and No. 3-seed LSU.

“These kids today, that’s about as well as we’ve played offensively in a while,” Texas head coach Vic Schaefer said. “You really have to tip your hat to this team.” 

The Longhorns remained in attack mode for the entirety of the game, shooting 64% from the field. Freshman forward Aaliyah Moore didn’t start, but her impact could be felt once she put her hands on the ball.

“She’s playing like the kid we knew she was gonna be,” Schaefer said. “She’s playing with confidence, but she’s worked at it.” 

Having dealt with an injury for the majority of this season, Moore had a chance to put her head down and get to work. Missing just one of her 10 shots, Moore led the team in scoring, beating her season high with 21 points and brought down five rebounds. 

Junior guard Aliyah Matharu also had a standout game, missing just one shot on 6-of-7 shooting. Matharu made both of her attempted 3-pointers and racked up 14 points while grabbing five rebounds and leading the team with three steals.

“I thought our tenacity on defense was really good in the second half,” Schaefer said.  

Utah entered the game as one of the best offenses in the country, leading the Pac-12 this season in scoring, averaging 75.9 points and 9.5 3-pointers per game.

“(Utah) will challenge you every possession, and they’ll go deep into the shot clock challenging you,” Schaefer said before the game. “So it’s going to take a real focus on our part for the full 30 seconds to defend them and defend all the things they like to do.”

In the first round, the Utes scored 92 points against No. 10-seed Arkansas. This wasn’t the case against Texas, however, as they shot just over 50% from the floor and 30% from three. 

Turnovers and the points that resulted from them proved to be the deciding factor for the Utes. Tthe Longhorns produced 18 points off of 19 turnovers.

“You gotta be happy for kids that put down their head and work,” Schaefer said. “This is a team that is continuing to grow and work.” 

With the conclusion of the last collegiate event to ever be held in the Frank Erwin Center, the Longhorn family says goodbye to a place they’ve called home since 1977.

“There’s a lot of history in this arena, and I think Jo(anne Allen-Taylor) and I are both really excited to have gotten to play the four years here,” senior Audrey Warren said before the game. “We want to end it right at the Erwin Center with a win and going on to the next round.”