Women’s Basketball Team Enjoys Sweet Journey in NCAA Tournament
Comets Advance to Final 16 for First Time in Program History after Winning Pair of Games at Activity Center

For the first time in the 17-year history of the program, the UT Dallas women’s basketball team has earned a trip to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III National Tournament.

The Comets advanced to the third round of the tournament after beating Rhodes College, 63-38, last Saturday and securing a hard-fought 67-65 win over UT Tyler on Sunday.

Buoyed by their winningest season ever (26-4) and a school-record 10-game winning streak, the Comets face a tough matchup today against No. 3-ranked George Fox University (29-0) at 4 p.m. on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich. A contingent, including University President David E. Daniel, Dr. Calvin Jamison, vice president of administration, UT Dallas Cheerleaders, athletic department staff and UTD Mercury student journalists, will be at the game to support the Comets.

“It’s awesome. We’re so close. We’re living out our dream,” senior guard and team co-captain Madi Hess said. “The guys (men’s basketball team) last year did the same thing. They told us, ‘Just go one round further than we did.’ They’ve been so supportive.”

Women’s Basketball
NCAA Division III National Tournament

Third and Quarterfinal Rounds
Calvin College
Grand Rapids, Mich.

4 p.m.: No. 3 George Fox University (29-0) vs. No. 24 UT Dallas (26-4)
6:30 p.m.: No. 6 Calvin College (29-0) vs. No. 9 DePauw University (26-2)

6:30 p.m.: Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner

Tickets: $7 for adults and $4 for students, seniors, children and members of the military.

Twitter: Look for live updates at @UT_Dallas, @UTDCOMETSPORTS, @utdmercury and @UTDALLAS_WBB

Online: Live video | Live stats

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Polly Thomason, who has been the team’s head coach for 10 years, credits the Comets’ strong defense and bench strength in scoring as key to this year’s “dream season.”

“Before we started the season I thought we had the talent to do it, and I became more convinced as we went on,” said Thomason, who boasts a 187-82 coaching record. She has led UT Dallas to the postseason each of the past nine seasons, but this is the furthest any team has gone.

“They don’t give up a lot of uncontested shots, and we have a lot of people who can score points. On any given night, any one of them can step up,” Thomason said. “They take care of one another and they trust one another. They have been my favorite team to coach.”

The Comets had a 21-4 regular-season record and captured the 2015 American Southwest Conference (ASC) tournament title.

Hess, who transferred to UT Dallas her junior year from Concordia University Texas in Austin, leads the Comets with an average of 12.4 points per game and earned MVP honors in the ASC tournament. She also was named to the All-ASC first team.

Hess also leads UT Dallas with 7.4 rebounds per game and shattered the Comets’ season assist record with 156, an average of 5.2 per game. In addition, Hess ranks third in NCAA D-III from three-point range, shooting 47.2 percent from beyond the arc.

As co-captain, she sought to pull the team together toward the same goal.

“We play together. We’ve all bought into the same thing,” Hess said. “We don’t care about how many minutes you play. We all know what our role is in every game — whether you need to be the one to come up with some points or get the rebounds. Every person on the court is someone you can trust.”

Amber Brown, a senior guard from Dallas who attended Skyline High School, averaged 11.1 points per game and was tabbed third team all-conference by the league’s coaches. She was named to the ASC’s All-Defensive Team for the third straight season.

Brown is also second on the team in rebounds (5.1 per game) and assists (3.7).

“It means everything. It’s all coming together,” she said of the tournament play. “I think about how much UTD hasn’t had this kind of recognition. We’re truly the underdog, and it’s really sweet when you prove people wrong.”

Brown, a sociology major who is also a co-captain for the team, said players are confident going into today’s game.

“Keep dreaming, keep believing. We have what it takes,” she said.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].