In many ways, Texas Women’s Basketball’s 92-66 victory over Texas Tech was the perfect depiction of the Longhorns’ season so far — shaky at times, with shimmers of greatness.
“I wouldn’t say it was a perfect game by any means,” head coach Karen Aston said. “But I think the sustaining of energy from one player to the next was exactly what it has to be in this league.”
When the Lady Raiders went on an 11-0 run in the first quarter, it seemed as if Texas was heading toward another conference loss. As her team started to let the game slip away, Aston called a timeout with disappointment etched across her face. She had seen this story before.
In previous games against TCU and No. 17 West Virginia, the Longhorns fell because of their inconsistency and inability to play a complete game. Both contests were decided by five points or less.
Whatever Aston told her team on the sidelines, it worked. Texas led 22-19 by the end of the opening period thanks in part to monster blocks from senior guard Lashann Higgs and sophomore center Charli Collier’s 13 points. During the second quarter, the Longhorns began to showcase more of the talent and grit that enabled them to take down then-No. 17 Tennessee and then-No. 1 Stanford in December.
“(Aston) really stressed playing hard on both ends for 40 minutes,” Collier said. “I feel like we did a really good job of that today."
Senior forward Joyner Holmes didn’t emerge from the bench until later in the first, but she found her rhythm by the next period. Holmes scored 11 points in nine minutes and tossed a slick no-look pass to Collier, helping Texas put more points on the board.
“I thought (Holmes) was very intentional,” Aston said. “That’s the best word I can use for the way that she played, and to see her in the circle — that’s where I’d like for her to spend a whole lot of time is in that circle, whether it be rebounding (or) being a presence.”
As if Higgs’ acrobatics from the first quarter weren’t enough, sophomore guard Joanne Allen-Taylor continued to put on a show with layups and Eurosteps. Senior guard Sug Sutton got aggressive, too, on jumpers. After the stretch of solid play, the Longhorns led 47-31 at the half.
“Remarkable growth with Joanne,” Aston said. “That has made Sug feel a little more comfortable. … It gives Sug that feeling of, ‘I can play all out.’”
Unlike in recent matchups, Texas didn’t take its foot off the gas out the locker room. The third quarter saw stars and veterans step back as younger players such as sophomore guard Audrey Warren and freshman guard Celeste Taylor got involved for scores.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the Longhorns had run away with the game. Everything that followed — more threes and stingy defense — only dug Texas Tech into a deeper hole.
With a victory over the Lady Raiders, Texas improves to 10–6. But Aston, who secured her 175th career win as head coach, said this game won’t matter next week against Kansas State and beyond; the Longhorns have to stay hungry.
“Forget it,” Aston said. “You can’t let one loss turn into two back to back, and you can’t let a win cause you to relax and let your guard down. … If we don’t get in that mix of teams that are really starving, then we’re going to find ourselves on the outside looking in.”