Texas returns from break, handles Northwestern State

Robert Trevino

Texas couldn’t have imagined a better way to head into the holiday season — a win over No. 1 Stanford at home catapulted them back into the Top 25 for the first time since their loss to Arizona over a month ago. After a week off, the No. 25 Longhorns stepped back into the Frank Erwin Center for a showdown against Northwestern State.

The Longhorns capped off the decade with an impressive 91-49 win over the visiting Lady Demons behind sophomore center Charli Collier, who finished with 16 points and had secured a double-double by halftime. Texas reached 90 points for the second time this season, and the Longhorns are 2–0 in such games.

For Collier, Sunday marked her ninth double-double of the year, tying her for second nationally in double-doubles. Sophomore guard Joanne Allen-Taylor put together an impressive performance, going 4 for 5 from the field and scoring a career-high 15 points in 23 minutes of play.

Sunday’s matchup was the final nonconference regular season game for Texas. It will start Big 12 Conference play Friday by welcoming TCU to the Frank Erwin Center. The Longhorns went 12–6 in conference play last season en route to a tournament appearance and will look to improve on that mark this season.

Texas’ dominance on the boards continued against the Lady Demons and is arguably the most impressive performance of the Longhorns’ season thus far. The Longhorns pulled down 54 rebounds Sunday, making it the fourth time this season head coach Karen Aston’s team had more than 50 rebounds. Rebounding and inside dominance have been a big focus for the Longhorns, especially with Collier and senior forward Joyner Holmes leading the way.

Another point of emphasis for Aston and the Longhorns has been getting younger players experience. On Sunday, freshman guard Isabel Palmer scored 12 points and pulled down a career-high nine rebounds in 23 minutes. It was the second time Palmer scored double figures in her Longhorn career.

It might be fair to say that the Longhorns are beginning to nail down their starting rotation, as Aston went with the starting lineup of Collier, Holmes, senior guard Sug Sutton, freshman guard Celeste Taylor and senior forward Jada Underwood for the fifth time this season and the fourth straight game. The last four games include two of the Longhorns’ best wins of the season: the aforementioned win over Stanford and a road win against Tennessee earlier in the month.

A highlight of the game came as graduate student guard Sophie Taylor, who was awarded a scholarship earlier this month, scored her first career points as a Longhorn. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Audrey Warren made her first appearance of the season. Warren missed the previous 11 games while in concussion protocol but had two points and three rebounds in her first appearance.

Shooting, which was a struggle for Texas coming out of the gates, looks to have improved in recent games. Sunday marked Texas’ best shooting percentage of the season, with the Longhorns going 32 of 58 for a 55.2 shooting percentage. Texas will look to continue this trend in conference play.