Texas has proven itself as a stout rebounding team through the first 22 games of the regular season. Whether it’s offensive and defensive rebounding or even rebounding from a loss, the Longhorns always seem to land on their feet.
Sunday afternoon, nine days after a blowout home loss to No. 2 Baylor, Texas rebounded once again, giving a strong defensive performance en route to an 81-66 win over Texas Tech.
Tech jumped out to a fast start and led by six after the first quarter. Then, Texas shook off the cobwebs and rebounded, going into the half down by just one.
“We’ve been off nine days, so I kind of expected a little bit of game rust,” head coach Karen Aston said. “And that’s sort of what it looked like early in the game, but I thought that the energy defensively changed.”
Senior guards Sug Sutton and Lashann Higgs took the leadership role on Sunday at the United Supermarkets Arena. Sutton led the team with 20 points while Higgs came off the bench and scored 14 of her own.
“We had to reassure each other that runs like this happen in games and you just can’t falter,” Higgs said on the team’s mentality after being down early on. “(We) told each other that as long as we get the stops, that’ll create the energy offensively, and that’s what happened.”
The energy in the building was different on Sunday afternoon, as the game was Texas Tech’s annual Play4Kay Pink Game, which benefits the Kay Yow Cancer Fund and a game that the University has hosted since 2007.
“I appreciate the community and the support for this game. It means a lot to mean anytime that I’m a part of one,” Aston said after the game, who lost her mother to cancer last year. “It’s really something that’s important to me, and it’s important to Lashann (Higgs too), actually. And I appreciate what the community does to support this game and this cause.”
The key for the Longhorns, apart from Sutton’s 20 points, was on the defensive end, where the Lady Raiders’ offense struggled aside from senior forward Brittany Brewer’s 23 points.
“The key to really defending a post player like (Brewer) that can step out and do a lot of different things is just to keep them guessing, whether there’s going to be a double-(team) or not,” Aston said. “We didn’t really want to risk the double-teams because of the way they’ve been shooting the ball. I’ve seen the 20 threes on film, that was enough for me.”
The Lady Raiders set a Big 12 record with 20 3-pointers earlier this month in a blowout win against Oklahoma, proving the Longhorns’ opponent was more than capable of big things if given the opportunity.
But Sunday afternoon, Texas made sure its opponent never got that opportunity. An impressive run by Sutton from just before the end of the third quarter into the beginning of the fourth quarter sealed the game.
“I thought that the difference in the game was our defense, because we knew that this was going to be a tough game,” sophomore center Charli Collier said. “It’s never easy playing (in Lubbock), and we knew that they were dedicating this game to a lot of people that are fighting cancer, so we knew it was a special game for them. We just had to come ready and be prepared.”