Longhorns fail to overcome lackluster first quarter, suffer first loss of season to A&M

Carter Yates

The Texas women’s basketball team shot 18.8% from the field and turned the ball over five times in the first quarter of their game against No. 12 Texas A&M Sunday night. The Longhorns’ slow start proved too much to overcome as they dropped their first game of the season 66-61.

Texas appeared shell-shocked, walking off the court after falling behind 21-11 at the end of the first quarter. The Longhorns gave up nine fast break points and allowed the Aggies to shoot 3-of-6 from three-point range. Texas A&M swarmed star junior center Charli Collier with persistent double teams in the paint, and the Texas guards couldn’t create their own offense, turning the ball over five times. 

Vic Schaefer, who suffered his first loss as the Longhorns’ head coach, said the sloppy first quarter set the team back and cost them the game.

“First quarter, call it what you want, but it doesn’t look like you’re ready to play,” Schaefer said. “You get outscored 10, that’s kind of where the game was. (We were) 10-for-17 from the free-throw line, we probably missed four or five layups. (If) you’re not having to foul at the end, it’s a different game.”

Texas, who forced a bevy of turnovers through its first three games of the season, had zero steals in the first half. The lack of steals correlates to poor effort on defense at the beginning of the game, Schaefer said.

“This is a great indicator for me of how hard my team is or isn’t playing,” Schaefer said. “We had zero steals at halftime. I can’t tell you if I’ve ever had a team, ever, that had zero steals in a first half.”

Faced with their first taste of adversity in the young season, the Longhorns clawed their way back into the contest with their signature press defense. Texas captured their first lead of the game with seven minutes left in the fourth quarter off of junior forward Audrey Warren’s layup. 

After the Longhorns took the lead 54-53, Texas A&M went on a scorching 10 point run to ice the game away. The fourth quarter collapse was indicative of poor attention to detail, Warren said.

“I think we had too many mental lapses,” Warren said. “We weren’t really focused on what we should be doing. We let them go.”

Collier, who came into the game averaging 30.3 points and 12.0 rebounds per contest, never got comfortable in the paint. The junior shot 4-of-11 from the field and was held to merely three points in the second half. Texas A&M’s defensive strategy of double and triple teaming the center in the paint is something Collier said she expects for the rest of the year.

“From here on out, I’m going to be their main focus,” Collier said. “I got to expect that … I have to figure out a way to get different shots in our offense for me or figure out a way my other teammates can get better shots.”

After putting up a career-high 44 points against North Texas, Collier has been subjected to double teams in the past two games. If the Longhorns want to prevent their offense from becoming one-dimensional, Schaefer said they need to start hitting outside shots at a higher clip.

“That’s how it’s going to be until our guards figure out how to do what I want them to do and take the shots I want them to take,” Schaefer said. “I’m not interested in going 7-for-24 from the three-point line … Until you get in the gym every day and work, and work on your craft, it’s going to be that way every night.”