Dynamic duo of Collier and Taylor lifts Texas to victory over Kansas

Taylor Hawthorne

Head coach Vic Schaefer left last Saturday’s loss against West Virginia wondering how his team would rebound. Schaefer got his answer in a 79-72 win against Kansas Thursday night at the Frank Erwin Center. 

Kansas wouldn’t go down without a fight, but Texas’s confident shooting propelled them to a relatively comfortable win. Junior forward Lauren Ebo was back in action after missing a couple weeks of competition, and her presence helped open up scoring opportunities for junior center Charli Collier.

Ebo’s contribution to the Longhorns goes far beyond the stat sheet, Schaefer said. 

“It’s good to have Lauren (Ebo) in there. It really allows us to move Charli (Collier) around a little bit,” Schaefer said. “It was a positive on the board to have Lauren (Ebo) back.” 

Ebo was able to establish her position on the block, allowing Collier to move around the exterior of the paint. Collier shot 52.4% to finish with 28 points, her career-high in a Big 12 contest. 

Sophomore guard Celeste Taylor enjoyed one of her best offensive performances of the season, finding her range from beyond the arc. Taylor finished with 23 points, shooting 66.7% from the 3-point line in her 40 minutes on the court.

Taylor’s performance propelled Texas to the win, and the team will benefit if she can build upon her offensive performance, Collier said.

“When Celeste plays how Celeste plays, we’re going to win a lot of games,” Collier said. “When everyone steps up and plays their role and does their part, we’re going to win a lot of games.”

Collier and Taylor led the scoring effort for Texas, accounting for 65% of the team’s points. Every other Longhorn struggled to find a groove offensively, with the third highest scorer only with nine points.

Kansas dominated Texas in the paint despite not having played in two weeks and only bringing eight eligible players. The Jayhawks scored 46 points in the paint compared to Texas’s 28, led by sophomore guard Holly Kersgieter, who finished with 20 points.

The disparity in paint points can be attributed to Texas’s soft defense on driving guards, Taylor said.

“I think we let a lot of dribble penetration get through the lane, and that is something we are not supposed to let happen,” Taylor said. “We got to work harder at the things we’re not good at, that dribble penetration, still taking those charges, boxing out. Just the little things that we need to do better as a team.”

Even though Texas struggled defensively, the Longhorns held the lead for 39 minutes of the game and outscored Kansas in every quarter except the third.

Junior guard Joanne Allen-Taylor was quiet for most of the game but made some big plays in the fourth quarter with aggressive effort on the glass and capitalizing off free throw opportunities to extend the Texas lead. Despite the quiet offensive performance, Schaefer said she made an impact in every other area of the game.

“Jo (Allen-Taylor) might’ve struggled from the field, but she had five offensive rebounds, six total,” Shaefer said. 

Texas is still trying to find the right rotations, but guard Shay Holle provided a spark off the Texas bench. The freshman contributed on offense and defense and could potentially find a bigger role based on her admirable, albeit short, performance tonight.

“Shay Holle came off the bench and gave us 3:51 and had two assists, one steal, one rebound and no turnovers, so probably should’ve played her a little bit longer,” Schaefer said. 

The win is a plus, but not yet a sigh of relief for Texas. Schaefer said winning is always a positive, but he is eager to get to work on the things that went wrong in practice in preparation for Texas Tech on Sunday. 

“We’ll get back tomorrow. Those kids are going to work hard,” Schaefer said. “We’ll get better and get ready to go on the road.”