July 22, 2019
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UMaine women’s basketball team faces Texas in NCAA tourney on Saturday

UMaine Athletics | BDN
UMaine Athletics | BDN
The University of Maine women's basketball team cheers at the Alfond Family Lounge at Alfond Arena in Orono on Monday night after learning of its matchup against Texas in the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tourney. Maine will play its game in Austin, Texas, on Saturday night.

The University of Maine women’s basketball team will face the University of Texas in Austin, Texas, in the first round of the NCAA tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday.

The 23-9 Black Bears, winners of 14 of their last 15 and six in a row, earned their first NCAA berth since 2004 by beating Hartford 74-65 in the America East final on Friday afternoon.

Texas (26-6) earned a No. 2 seed while the Black Bears are a No. 15 seed. They will play in the Frank C. Erwin Jr. Center which holds 16,540 fans.

It is the Black Bears’ eighth NCAA tournament appearance.

The Longhorns are 14-2 at the Erwin Center this season, their only losses coming to No. 1 Connecticut 75-71 on Jan. 15 and to No. 3 Baylor (93-87) on Feb. 19.

The winner plays the winner of the 3:30 p.m. game between seventh seed Arizona State (21-12) and 10th seed Nebraska (21-10) on Sunday.

Friday’s game will be shown live on ESPN2.

There was a large throng on hand at the Alfond Family Lounge at Alfond Arena to watch the NCAA tournament selection show.

“I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be a great experience,” said UMaine junior guard Tanesha Sutton. “It’s a good opportunity. It’s a new environment. We’re going to play hard.”

“We’ve already played a lot of good teams,” said sophomore forward Fanny Wadling. “We believe in ourselves. We’ll give it a good shot.”

UMaine has played four NCAA tournament teams this season.

Mississippi State is a No. 1 seed, Ohio State is a No. 3 seed, former UMaine head coach Joanne P. McCallie’s Duke team is a No. 5 seed and Miami (Florida) earned a No. 8 seed.

UMaine lost all four contests.

“They’re a great team,” said UMaine head coach Amy Vachon. “They have a great point guard (Brooke McCarty) and some good post players. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

UMaine sophomore guard and leading scorer Blanca Millan said they know they are going to play an exceptional team but she pointed out that their grueling non-conference schedule prepared them for the America East portion of the schedule and will do likewise for the game with Texas.

She liked the idea of playing a team they haven’t played this season.

UMaine did play Texas on Dec. 29, 1992, in the Bell Atlantic Tournament in Piscataway, New Jersey, and lost 72-34.

Millan said she was surprised that they are going to Texas.

“We thought we were going to Tallahassee (Florida State) or Tennessee,” said Millan.

Texas lost to Baylor 77-69 in the Big 12 final eight days ago after beating Iowa State 81-69 in the quarterfinals and West Virginia 68-55 in the semis in Oklahoma City.

The 5-foot-4 McCarty is one of four Longhorns averaging double figures at 13.9 points per game. She also dishes out 4.5 assists.

Senior Ariel Atkins, a 5-11 guard, is averaging 14.8 points, 5-9 junior guard Lashann Higgs is at 12.9 ppg and 6-4 junior center-forward Jatarie White is at 10.5 ppg and 6.0 rebounds per game.

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