When the NCAA's West Regional bracket was revealed two weeks ago, it appeared there were too many good teams for the bracket to follow a logical progression toward the Final Four.
But in the end the West shook out just as the Midwest, Mideast and East, with the top two seeded women's basketball teams in each regional playing for the right to go to Atlanta this weekend.
The Longhorns (28-5) -- winners of 16 consecutive games, the longest current win streak in Division I -- next play top-seeded Louisiana State Tuesday at 6 p.m. PST for a Final Four berth. The sixth-seeded Gophers concluded their year at 25-6.
"It certainly wasn't easy," said Texas Coach Jody Conradt, after the Longhorns, who led, 34-28, at halftime, didn't shake Minnesota for good until the final 6:50 of the game.
The Longhorns prevailed thanks to a season-high 18 points from junior guard Jamie Carey -- who transferred from Stanford to Texas last summer after sitting out two seasons because of concussions -- and sophomore forward Heather Schreiber, who had 14 points and took down 12 rebounds.
"It was pretty amazing," said Carey, on returning to Stanford this weekend. "I typically don't get nervous before games and today I was a little jittery. It gave me goose bumps running out on the floor again, getting introduced."
It was no surprise the Stanford fans in attendance cheered loud for Carey and Texas. The Gophers knocked off the Cardinal here last week and seemed primed to add the Longhorns to their list of upsets.
But after taking its last lead, 41-39, on two free throws by Corrin Von Wald, at the 15:29 mark, Minnesota's offense struggled against the Texas pressure. The Longhorns took the lead for good, 44-41, on a three-point play by Schreiber with 13:22 remaining.
"I'm disappointed, but the better team tonight won the game," Minnesota Coach Pam Borton said.