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Top seed Texas uses dominant defense to cruise past Gonzaga and into Elite Eight with win

Texas Aaliyah Moore - Getty Images

PORTLAND, Ore. -- — Aaliyah Moore had 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, Shaylee Gonzales added 15 points, and top-seeded Texas used a smothering defense to roll past fourth-seeded Gonzaga 69-47 on Friday night in the Portland 4 Regional semifinal.

Overlooked among the other No. 1 seeds in the NCAA Tournament, the Longhorns looked every bit the part of a title contender this March Madness, stymieing Gonzaga’s high-scoring offense and flustering the Bulldogs into an awful night at the offensive end.

Texas (33-4) won for the 15th time in 16 games and never made it easy for the Bulldogs. Their size was too much for Gonzaga to handle and the Longhorns defense held Gonzaga to just three made field goals and forced nine turnovers in a dominant first half.

Shay Holle’s corner 3-pointer in the closing seconds of the half gave the Longhorns a 37-18 halftime lead and Texas was on its way to its first Elite Eight appearance since the 2021-22 season.

No. 3 seed North Carolina State, which rolled past second-seeded Stanford, awaits Texas on Sunday in the regional final. Texas has not reached the Final Four since 2003.

Holle added 12 points and Texas dominated despite a quiet night from Big 12 player of the year Madison Booker. Booker was slowed by foul trouble in the first half and finished with six points and eight rebounds in 25 minutes.

Yvonne Ejim led Gonzaga (32-4) with 14 points, but picked up her first foul 30 seconds into the game and struggled with foul trouble before eventually fouling out. Brynna Maxwell added 13 points, but the winningest season in school history for Gonzaga finished with a whimper.

The Bulldogs shot just 26.5% and the 47 points were the fewest since last year's NCAA Tournament first-round loss to Mississippi when the Zags managed just 48 points. Gonzaga entered the game as the best 3-point shooting team in the country at 40.1%, but went 4 of 22 from beyond the 3-point line with most of their looks challenged by the size of the Longhorns’ lineup. Gonzaga's perimeter combo of Kayleigh and Kaylynne Truong were a combined 3 of 18 shooting and 1 of 12 on 3s.

Gonzaga was seeking its second Elite Eight appearance in school history and first since 2011.

Gonzaga made one spurt in the third quarter, cutting a 21-point lead to 12, but Gonzales’ third 3-pointer pushed the lead back to 15 and it was back to 21 by the end of the quarter.