ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Texas coach Karen Aston and her players were frustrated after a disappointing showing in the Sweet 16. However, the future looks bright for these young Longhorns.
Making their first appearance in the regional semifinals in 11 years, they lost 105-54 to Connecticut on Saturday.
"Coach told us before we came out here that we had a week left, win or lose," junior Imani McGee-Stafford said. "To be that close is really frustrating. We couldn’t do what we were supposed to do. We’ll keep replaying this `til October."
McGee-Stafford took solace in knowing that each year the young Longhorns have improved.
"We do have everyone coming back and we learned a lot. We’ve gotten better every season," she said. "The first year we didn’t make it, last year we made it to the first round. We need to make sure we can get better every year."
Aston hopes her team learns from this game.
"Everybody that plays in this Sweet 16 and plays Connecticut uses it as a measuring stick," the second-year coach said. "We know we didn’t measure today. We have to go back and evaluate where we have to get better.
"This was an experience and they have to understand how to get to the next one. I don’t think you go to A to Z really quickly. I’m happy we made another step with the program and we have to take another giant one next year."
The win was the 100th of Geno Auriemma’s career in the NCAA Tournament, making him the second coach to reach that mark. The Hall of Famer joined Pat Summitt, who finished with 112 victories in her career, as the only two coaches in men’s or women’s basketball to reach that milestone.
"That’s lots of wins, 100 wins in the NCAA tournament," said Auriemma, who is 100-17 in his NCAA career during a 30-year span. "Some people don’t get to play in the NCAA Tournament ever or play a couple games. We’ve been pretty fortunate. We didn’t win anything in the NCAA in our first couple years."
Now the Huskies stand three wins away from a third straight national championship and 10th overall.
Breanna Stewart was a key reason why the Huskies set the NCAA record for margin of victory in the regionals and beyond. The junior star had 31 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists.
"(Today) was a lot of fun," Stewart said. "Right from the start shots were going in and we were being aggressive. … Texas has a big presence inside, big post players. We knew if we got them moving a little bit we could get any shot we wanted."
The Huskies shot a blistering 56 percent from the field and became the eighth team to put up more than 100 points in the regionals.
UConn (35-1) led 26-19 midway through the first half before blowing the game open with a 44-9 run spanning the half. The burst started with 13 straight points by the Huskies.
UConn led 52-24 at the break and scored 18 points in the first 3:30 of the second half to finish off the spurt.
Ariel Atkins scored 11 to lead Texas (24-11). The Longhorns tried to slow the Huskies down with their big lineup of 6-foot-7 Imani Stafford-McGee and 6-5 Kelsey Lang. Aston went with the pair at the first media timeout and her team still in the game.
Texas: Texas made its first trip to the Sweet 16 since 2004. … The Longhorns haven’t beaten UConn in the six meetings, including three games in the NCAA Tournament. … With the early season injury to McGee-Stafford and the loss of Nneka Enemkpali midway through the year, Texas hasn’t had been at full strength all season. … This was only the sixth time Texas had given up 100 points in the storied history of the program. The last time was Dec. 1, 2006, at Tennessee. The Longhorns have put up 100 points 65 times.
UConn: Stewart has already had success in Albany, winning the New York State title her senior season in high school at the Times Union Center, which is hosting the NCAA Tournament. … This was seventh time UConn has broken 100-point in NCAA Tournament.
CLOSE CALLS: Texas won its first two games by a combined five points. That’s the smallest margin of victory for teams that made the Sweet 16. UConn won its two contests by 92 points.
RECORD BREAKERS: Notre Dame and Louisiana Tech held the previous record for margin of victory in the regionals and beyond. Both teams won by 44 points, Louisiana Tech in 1990 and the Irish in 2012.