Longhorns prepare for matchup with upstart UTPA squad

Courtney Norris

No. 9 Texas women’s basketball team will play UT-Pan American on Wednesday at the Frank Erwin Center.

Both teams have won three consecutive games coming into the matchup, but Texas head coach Karen Aston continues to work to correct mistakes she saw from her team against UCLA.

UT-Pan American is a competitive team that could surprise the Longhorns. 

“They are well coached and have the capability to beat us,” Aston said.

Texas holds a perfect record against the Broncs, having defeated them five times without ever losing.

On Sunday, Texas out-rebounded UCLA 50-34 and posted 20 second-chance points. In their previous game, the Longhorns beat No. 5 Stanford in an 87-81 overtime victory Thursday.

There is no doubt Texas is one of the hottest squads in the country. The team started the season full of confidence after being selected as the Big 12 preseason favorite and has turned that confidence into early season success.

Despite her team’s strong start, Aston still wants more from the Longhorns.

“It’s not that their effort hasn’t been good,” Aston said. “Their level of execution hasn’t been what it’s needed to be.”

Aston said one of her team’s biggest advantages this season is that her players, even the freshmen, are not afraid to take the big shot, something she said has been lacking in past seasons.

In a recent press conference, Aston said her staff has done an excellent job these past two years recruiting players who fit her unique system, and the results of those recruiting efforts are beginning to pay off.

Freshman guard Brooke McCarty came off the bench to lead Texas to a 75-65 win at UCLA, scoring 20 points. It was the first 20-point performance from a Texas guard this season.

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins made the first 14 free throws of her collegiate career. Atkins, the Preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year, has started all three games, averaging 12.0 points per game for the Longhorns.

After last week’s impressive victories, Texas moved up four spots to No. 9 in the Coaches Poll.

“We’ve been looking for an identity,” Aston said. “We know that we’re in terrific shape. This will be an interesting week for our team.”