For the second straight game, the Longhorns found themselves down early. However, unlike Thursday night’s game against UT-San Antonio, they also found themselves down at halftime by 19 points.
The defending Women’s National Invitation Tournament champion, the Arizona Wildcats, jumped out to a commanding 26-11 lead after the first quarter, then allowed just eight points in the second quarter, leaving a crowd of 3,147 at the Frank Erwin Center mostly silent.
If there was a bright spot to be found in the opening two quarters on Sunday, it would have to have been senior forward Joyner Holmes. Holmes was the only Longhorn with more than one field goal made in the first half, and finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds.
“We have some groups that work well with each other and some that don’t,” Holmes said. “Just picking up on things a little earlier, I think, we could have shown a lot more. We’re capable of a lot more, and we just weren’t able to show it tonight. I don’t really know why. I can’t really give you the true answer behind that, so we’ll figure that out in the next couple days.”
The Wildcats’ dominance was due in no small part to their junior guard Aari McDonald, who nearly tied her season-high point total in just the first half, leading all players with 22 first-half points.
“She’s fast, she’s quick,” Holmes said. “We didn’t adjust early, and (McDonald) just kept going downhill. We just have to learn how to adjust. She wasn’t doing anything spectacular.”
If McDonald’s performance wasn’t spectacular, it was at least historic. She finished with 44 points in 34 minutes, the first time since 1998 that Texas allowed a player to score 38 or more points, and tying the record for most points by an opponent in Frank Erwin Center history.
Holmes would keep her own momentum going into the second half, securing her third double-double in as many games played with 2:11 remaining the third quarter. However, Holmes was right about Texas needing to adjust earlier. By the time they did, it was too late. Arizona took a 15-point lead into the fourth quarter and handed the Longhorns their worst margin of defeat since last season’s loss to No. 1 Baylor.
“It’s way too early to panic, although I think the way we played today is alarming,” head coach Karen Aston said. “We’re young in a lot of areas, and you can see that in particular … when we put in a different lineup or someone subs in … (We’ve) got to address this and get better.”
Texas has two more chances at home to regroup before the Rainbow Wahine Showdown in Honolulu, and though Aston reiterated that it is a long season, that can no longer give Texas any comfort senior leader Holmes said.
“Granted, it still is November, so we have time,” Holmes said. “But I wouldn’t just continuously keep using the excuse that we have time because there’s only so much.”