Head coach Gail Goestenkors got her 100th victory at Texas as the Longhorns were able to stay in the NCAA Tournament hunt with an 87-62 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners (18-10, 10-6) at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday.
Goestenkors' milestone victory couldn’t have come at a better time as the Longhorns were in a must-win situation against the Sooners in the annual “Shoot for a Cure” game. With the win, Texas improved to 6-10 in Big 12 play and 16-12 overall.
“The most important win was this win,” Goestenkors said. “I don't care if it’s number 100 or number one, it's the most important one. We played with a sense of urgency that you would expect from a team in our position.”
Texas played with an intensity and work ethic that had been absent during its recent two-game slump. The Longhorns were diving for loose balls, fighting for rebounds and refusing to be outworked from the tip to the final whistle.
“We came out, and we knew our backs were against the wall,” sophomore Chelsea Bass said, who tied her season high with 13 points. “Defensively we worked our butts off. When we work hard and have fun, we're a tough team to stop. We went to work on both ends of the court and we just had fun.”
“It’s good for our confidence,” Goestenkors said. “We just worked so hard. This game just showed what can happen for us when we all put forth a supreme effort.”
Texas' performance was by far its strongest against a conference opponent this season. The Longhorns' 87 points were the most they've scored in a Big 12 game this year, and the 25-point margin of victory was their biggest win thus far in league play.
“We came out and set the tone,” Goestenkors said. “It was a tremendous team effort. Everybody really played well, played together and played hard. We were determined tonight, and we sustained that energy for 40 minutes.”
Texas' offensive attack was led by sophomore Chassidy Fussell's career-high 30 points. The sophomore shot 45 percent from the field (10 of 22) and made all seven free throw attempts.
“My teammates were great tonight,” Fussell said. “They know when and where to give me the ball. Yvonne [Anderson] and Ashleigh [Fontenette] were able to find me when I was open. It had a lot to do with my teammates out there tonight.”
Although Fussell stood above the rest, Texas got points from eight of its nine players, including double-digit numbers from Fontenette (18), Bass (13) and Anderson (12). Gayle led the team with six assists.
“We always welcome points from anybody,” Goestenkors said. “We had great balance tonight. One or two people aren't going to win games for us. We need to have balanced scoring, and tonight we did that.”