The Texas women’s basketball team bounced back after last week’s loss against then-No. 21 West Virginia on Wednesday night with a convincing 64-53 win over Oklahoma State.
The Oklahoma State Cowgirls came into the Frank Erwin Center ranked one spot ahead of Texas in the Big 12 standings. Oklahoma State senior forward Natasha Mack, who was averaging 19.4 points per game heading into the contest, exited early in the first quarter with an undisclosed injury before returning midway-through the third quarter. The Longhorns, led by junior forward Charli Collier, took advantage of Mack’s extended absence.
Texas dominated in the rebounding department all night and pressured Oklahoma State into attempting poor shots, causing the Cowgirls to shoot an abysmal 35.7% from the field.
The outstanding defensive effort was a result of an increased competitive spirit, Collier said.
“Just to see us compete tonight was really fun to watch,” Collier said. “We defended really well, and I was just glad of our overall performance.”
After allowing 81 points the week earlier against West Virginia, the Longhorns held Oklahoma State to a measly four points in the second quarter and 17 total points in the first half. The lack of offensive production was abnormal for the Cowgirls but a testament to Texas’ defensive game plan, head coach Vic Schaefer said.
“That team right there (Oklahoma State), is as good offensively as anybody we’ve seen,” Schaefer said. “They can shoot it at every position … I mean, that’s hard to deal with.”
Sophomore guard Celeste Taylor was one of the many bright spots for Texas throughout the night. Taylor finished with two steals on the defensive end and added 18 points.
With the final seconds draining away in the third quarter, Taylor turned a great defensive effort into easy points when she forced a turnover off an Oklahoma State inbounds pass and calmly canned a mid-range buzzer beater.
“I’ve always been a defensive player,” Taylor said. “I was always taught if you play defense, you’ll get on the court. At the end of the day, we stayed down on our halfcourt defense ... we just helped each other.”
On the offensive end of the court, Collier exerted her will on an undermanned Oklahoma State team that was without their leader in Mack for much of the game. The Naismith Trophy Midseason Team award winner finished with 28 points and a whopping 19 rebounds.
However, it was her five blocks on defense that Collier said marked her improvement over the season.
“(Schaefer) preaches help-side defense,” Collier said. “Tonight, I was a better help defender. I know that I have to be a better help defender in the future as well.”
Despite reaching a significant milestone in scoring 1,000 career points for the Longhorns on Wednesday night, Collier was more focused on her defensive effort.
“It’s a blessing,” Collier said about the achievement. “I didn’t even know coming into tonight’s game, I just wanted to play hard. I felt like defensively tonight, I was definitely a big presence.”