Longhorns use late comeback to sink Seminoles in double overtime thriller

Sydney Rubin

Fifty minutes felt like a decade Monday night at Donald L. Tucker Civic Center in Tallahassee.

It took two overtimes, but the No. 8 Longhorns escaped a first-half slump to take down the No. 4 Seminoles, 92-88.

“What a team effort,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I just can’t get over how tough we were. We were just terrible tonight in so many ways, and we found a way to win. I could not be any more proud of our coaches or our players.”

After facing a 12-point deficit in the fourth quarter, junior guard Brooke McCarty orchestrated a Longhorn comeback that didn’t allow her a minute on the bench. McCarty battled on the hardwood for the game’s entirety while inking a career-high 29 points, five rebounds and eight assists.

McCarty shot lights out down the stretch, draining 5-of-8 shots from behind the arc. But she dedicates the victory to her team’s ability to recover from early woes on both ends of the court.

“We kind of just regrouped at halftime and told each other that it’s our defense that gets us to win games,” McCarty said. “It just shows us how good we can be when we keep our circle tight and we stay in tune with each other.”

McCarty’s backcourt partner, junior guard Ariel Atkins, came back from her own first-quarter struggles to add a spark of offense with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

Up by three with three seconds remaining in regulation, Florida State senior guard Leticia Romero knocked down a triple with no time for Texas to respond, sending the game into overtime tied at  71 apiece.

Texas had multiple chances to seal the deal in the first extra period, but missed free throws and sloppy defense sent the game to a second overtime.

Aston faced a bind after four players fouled out, so she turned to sophomore forwards Olamide Aborowa and Jordan Hosey to close the game. Out of all the clutch shots and sloppy defensive plays the Longhorns endured during the two-overtime showdown, Aborowa’s layup with 1:11 remaining in the second overtime proved to be the difference for the Longhorns as they gained one final lead that they would not relinquish.

“I’ll tell you what,” Aston said. “Little ‘Mide stepped in there and hit a huge bucket for us. She played terrific. It was a total team effort.”

The first three quarters were all but pleasant for the Longhorns as turnovers and fouls plagued their rhythm. Six players fouled out for Texas and Florida State, including three Longhorn starters — senior center Kelsey Lang, senior guard Brianna Taylor and freshman forward Joyner Holmes.

Texas made up for its 21 turnovers with improved rebounding and key defensive stops late in the game.

Two of the nation’s top rebounding teams hit the hardwood Monday, but Texas won the battle of the boards, 47-45. The Seminoles grabbed 21 offensive rebounds, but the Longhorns’ second-half aggressiveness on the glass put them on top.

Junior forward Shakayla Thomas led the way for the Seminoles, scoring a team-high 23 points and 11 rebounds.

With another game added to the win column, the Longhorns extend their streak to 19 and improve to 5–4 against AP Top-25 teams this season. Texas will look to remain undefeated in conference play when they travel to No. 19 Oklahoma on Saturday.