Turnovers harm Longhorns in loss to No. 2 Huskies

Dalton Phillips

No. 14 Texas faced a championshipsized test against No. 2 Connecticut Sunday.

The Longhorns (2–4) showed flashes, but the Huskies (7–0) took control late in the game to grab their 82nd consecutive victory, 72-54.

The two teams met last season in the Elite Eight, where the Huskies advanced and eventually went on to win the national championship. The Longhorns, who have now played four top-15 opponents, fell to 0–3 on the road and 0–4 against top-15 teams for the season.

Texas started the game with some momentum and closed the first quarter with a 17-15 lead. But Connecticut junior guard Kia Nurse scored seven straight to open the second, sparking an 11-0 run to put the Huskies up 22-17. Connecticut embarked on another run in the second period, scoring eight unanswered points behind sophomore forward Napheesa Collier, who finished the game with 24 points on 10–15 shooting. The Huskies outscored Texas 24-13 in the second, taking a 39-30 lead into the half.

Junior guard Brooke McCarty hit a crucial three late in the third quarter to bring the Longhorns within two, but that was as close as they would get. Texas failed to convert on the next eight possessions as the Huskies went on a 12-0 run to earn a 63-49 lead midway through the fourth.

Despite a strong start, head coach Karen Aston said her team struggled to capitalize on offense down the stretch. Turnovers dug Texas into a deep hole it couldn’t climb out of. The Longhorns committed 26 turnovers, 14 more than the Huskies, leading to 33 points off turnovers for the reigning champs.

“The difference in the two teams is they’re executing offensively better than we are,” Aston said in a post-game radio interview. “When it’s a two-point game at the end of the third quarter … possessions really start to matter.”

Texas found itself without its second-leading scorer, junior guard Ariel Atkins, for most of the game. Atkins left in the first quarter after hitting her head and did not return. Atkins, who is averaging 13.6 points per game for the burnt orange, scored four points in seven minutes against the Huskies.

Aston said Atkins’ absence was a huge loss for the Longhorns. 

“That’s our leader,” Aston said.  “It’s disappointing for her and for our team.” 

Texas has a week to regroup before hosting No. 22 Tennessee Sunday. The game will mark the first of a five-game home stretch for the Longhorns, who hope to use home court as an opportunity to get back on track.

“This is a big week for us.” Aston said. “We’ll have four or five days to get ready for Tennessee, and we really need to get that win at home on Sunday.”