Texas tops Texas A&M and Memphis, falls to Syracuse at Paradise Jam


Jori Epstein

When sophomore guard Brady Sanders subbed in with 2:31 left Thursday night, the Longhorns were down 21 points to Syracuse. Sanders didn’t let it faze her, though, draining a trifecta of 3-pointers and a free throw to bring her team within 10.

The Longhorns still fell to the Orange but used the near comeback as motivation to beat No. 11 Texas A&M and Memphis before leaving the Virgin Islands.

“I think some players didn’t have much of a sense of urgency today,” head coach Karen Aston said.    

Texas allowed four Syracuse players to reach double-figures as a five-point halftime deficit grew. A season-high 23 turnovers were the main culprit — the Orange notched 24 points off turnovers alone.

Texas regrouped before Friday, as it trumped the Aggies 69-58. Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali led the Longhorns with 20 points and 11 rebounds in her second double-double this season. Freshman center Kelsey Lang chipped in with 10 points during her first start.

“We did an excellent job coming off a loss from last night and not dwelling on it,” Sanders said. “Everyone really understood what this rivalry means even though we’re not in the same conference.”

Sanders performed well in each of the weekend games, connecting on another three three-pointers against A&M and two against Memphis on Saturday in the Longhorns’ 65-36 win. She finished the weekend 9-for-16 behind the arc, paired with what Aston described as “terrific defense” in which the Longhorns followed the game plan and were “extremely focused on responding to scouting reports.” 

Lang hit another career-high 12 points with perfect second-half shooting. While Lang said her teammates’ support was key in calming her nerves, Aston said Lang brings a new dimension to her teammates as well.

“Lang has opened up some room for Nneka because she has the ability to space the floor a little bit differently than our other post players do,” Aston said. “She has a good feel in the post and she’s a smart player.”

Texas faces Arkansas-Little Rock on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.