After last year’s battle between Texas and No. 12 Florida State ended with a double-overtime victory for the Longhorns, fans expected another firefight between the two schools on Sunday afternoon.
They were not disappointed.
Though the final score was 87-72 in Texas’ favor, the game resembled anything but a blowout.
Texas was led by senior guard Brooke McCarty’s season-high 24 points on 10-13 shooting from the field. She was followed by senior guard Ariel Atkins and junior guard Lashann Higgs, who together combined for 32 points at the Frank Erwin Center.
Through three quarters, the game was in striking distance for Florida State, with Texas only holding a seven-point lead. But an efficient fourth quarter from the burnt orange put the game out of reach.
“I thought this game was a typical matchup between two competitive teams, just in a sense that there were a lot of swings in momentum,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I thought that we were really competitive and that was something I was looking for out of our team.”
The story of Sunday's game was the Longhorns’ rebounding. Led by junior forward Jatarie White’s 12 rebounds, Texas outrebounded the Seminoles by 14.
The win was especially enlightening for the Longhorns after last week’s loss to Tennessee, where the team’s lack of rebounding was prevalent. Texas’ dominance on the boards was encouraging for the team, Aston said.
“I just keep using the word competitive because you can’t question your team’s competitive spirit,” Aston said. “When I say that, I’m talking about all of us, not one individual. We can’t question who we are. We can’t question if we’re going to be able to be a competitive basketball team on a given basis.”
Higgs noted that the close contest on Sunday mirrored much of what Texas faced against Tennessee. The Longhorns fought in a close battle for much of both contests, but ultimately prevailed in the latter matchup with the Seminoles.
“We just talked about how we already went through the same situation, but this time we have to remain true to we are and not switch up like we did in Tennessee,” Higgs said. “We talked about sticking to our game plan and just continue to play our game.”
Texas now finds itself at 9–1 and nationally ranked in the top-10 in the nation with conference play right around the corner. The Longhorns will face a daunting Big 12 schedule in preparation for the NCAA Tournament. McCarty believes the team has a target on its back but is prepared for the challenge.
“This win was needed,” McCarty said. “So I hope we roll it over into the break and then coming into conference, because every team in conference is ready to beat us.”
Texas’ next game is slated for Dec. 28 against Oklahoma. Tip from Norman is set for 7 p.m.