AUSTIN, Texas — The worst fears for the University of Maine women’s basketball team were realized Saturday in its NCAA tournament game against Texas.

No matter what defense the 15th-seeded Black Bears tried, no matter how much they worked, dove for loose balls and contested shots by Texas guards Ariel Atkins and Lashann Higgs, they couldn’t keep up with the second-seeded Longhorns, nor could they overcome a huge size disadvantage.

Maine, in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004, lost 83-54 at the Frank Erwin Center. The Black Bears (23-10) were outrebounded 43-12, setting a tournament record for fewest rebounds in a game while falling to 1-8 all-time in the tournament.

Tanesha Sutton led the Black Bears with 16 points. Julie Brosseau added 11 and Blanca Millán, Maine’s leading scorer, was held to seven points on 3-of-13 shooting, and didn’t hit a 3-pointer.

“I’m proud of our season, not the way we wanted to end it but I’d take these 13 kids any day,” said Coach Amy Vachon.

The Black Bears had won 15 of their previous 16 games, including six straight. But once the game started, there was very little they could do to stop Texas’ high-scoring offense.

The Longhorns (27-6) ended the first quarter with a 9-0 run to build a 23-8 lead.

It didn’t get better. Maine trailed 45-18 at halftime and 67-34 after three quarters.

“All teams all year focused in on (Millán), so that wasn’t any different. The level of athlete guarding her was a little bit different here,” Vachon said. “But she missed some shots she normally hits, to be honest with you, but she kept fighting and she kept shooting.”

The rebounding deficit was an issue from the start. In the first quarter the Longhorns outrebounded the Black Bears 12-2, as Texas seemed to chase down every ball.

“We all had to get a feel for it. We just weren’t really putting that much effort in the first seven minutes,” Sutton said. “We were ready for (the start of the game), we just weren’t really boxing out.”

“We’re not used to playing that type of athleticism in our conference,” said Brosseau. “So that’s why I think it took us several minutes to adjust.”

But adjustments came too late. The Black Bears trailed 23-8 after the first quarter and faced a 27-point deficit at the half.

Nonetheless, Vachon sees the experience as something to build on.

“We don’t want to be a 15 seed. Being a 15 seed is really hard and that’s on us,” Vachon said. “We have to beat the Tulanes, we have to beat the Toledos, we have to beat the Miamis. We have to beat those teams.”

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