Early on in Texas’ 84-53 win over UT-San Antonio Thursday night, the Longhorns looked out of control. Costly turnovers and poor shooting from Texas allowed the Roadrunners to score quickly.
But then, sophomore center Charli Collier reined the Longhorns in. Collier’s two field goals in the first quarter gave Texas an early lead. However, as time progressed, missed opportunities and mistakes caught up with the Longhorns, who allowed UTSA to lead 15-6 late into the first quarter. By the end of the opening period, Texas had 10 points on the board, and six of them were from Collier.
Later on, two personal fouls on the center prompted Texas head coach Karen Aston to send Collier to the bench with under four minutes to go in the first.
“I got two early fouls mostly because I was anxious,” Collier said. “I wasn’t in the right spot at the right time. I was late.”
When Collier returned to the court again, she adjusted her game and continued to have an impact, sinking all five of her free throw attempts and making key plays in the paint.
“(I’m) just learning from freshman year to now just how not to foul and how to slow the game down and adjust to the defense and keep my hands straight up,” Collier said. “I feel like I did a better job of that in the second half.”
Thursday night saw the Longhorns outrebound UTSA 60-29. Texas’ success at the rim can be in large part attributed to Collier’s efforts, as the center had a team-leading 12 rebounds.
Last year, the sophomore averaged 14.4 minutes per game. Aston has expressed a desire to see Collier more involved this season, and so far the coach has gotten her wish. In last Friday’s game at South Florida, Collier played 35 minutes, and against UTSA, she was a consistent presence on the court with 26 game minutes.
“It’s definitely different,” Collier said. “It’s a drastic difference from last year. Just playing now, being more comfortable, starting — it’s all different for me. But I’m adjusting to it well, and if I continue to practice how I’ll play, I’ll continue to grow and go forward.”
By the second half, the Longhorns began to spread the ball around. Seniors forward Joyner Holmes and guard Lashann Higgs turned in solid performances that allowed Texas to separate from the Roadrunners. But Collier still remained a force.
“I thought we played much better in the second half, and I thought everybody contributed in the win,” Aston said,
At the end of the fourth quarter, the lopsided score indicated that Texas had run away with the game. But Collier wasn’t finished doing damage. With just eight seconds to go, she ended her career night with a bang, sending the Roadrunners home on a game-ending three-point shot.
Next up for the Longhorns is their matchup against a tough Arizona team Sunday. Collier said this victory against UTSA will be great fuel for the next contest.
“This is definitely a confidence booster for us (for) Sunday,” Collier said. “So being able to get this win under our belts, we’ll get ready for practice and get ready for Sunday.”