Much like the frigid temperatures the city of Austin endured this past week, the Texas women’s basketball team was ice-cold from the field in the first quarter against Kansas State.
After being sidelined from practice and organized competition for nearly a week, the Longhorns shot 2-for-14 in the first quarter as they fell behind 17-8 to a Kansas State team that had lost 11 of their last 12 games. Then, the signature Texas press defense created easy buckets on the offensive end as the Longhorns forced three consecutive turnovers that led to six quick points.
The Wildcats committed eight turnovers in the second quarter, and the Longhorns never looked back on their way to a 59-48 victory.
“I feel like our second quarter was our best quarter defensively,” junior center Charli Collier said. “We got a lot of stops in the press, and that definitely was a momentum changer for us. (Freshman guard) Ashley (Chevalier) came off the bench and was definitely a game changer.”
Chevalier’s defensive intensity and on-ball pressure unlocked the Texas defense, head coach Vic Schaefer said.
“The person that changed the whole complexion of the game was Ashley (Chevalier) in the first half,” Schaefer said. “I just thought her energy on the ball really was infectious for the rest of the team and kind of got us going.”
The Longhorns, who are now 6-0 in games following a loss, shook off their rust from the field quickly. After an abysmal first quarter from a shooting perspective, Texas cashed in on 56.3% of their looks in the second.
“We started off pretty slow in the beginning,” sophomore guard Celeste Taylor said. “K-State got off to a great start. We were a little slow offensively. Defensively, (we were) letting them get to the basket. Once we settled in and focused on what we needed to do, … everything calmed down.”
Texas had an answer all afternoon for Kansas State’s leading scorer, sophomore center Ayoka Lee. Lee played merely 13 minutes on the day, as she struggled with foul trouble throughout the game, eventually fouling out with only five points.
When Lee was rendered ineffective due to foul trouble, Collier took advantage of a shorthanded Kansas State defense to score 21 points and grab 14 rebounds.
“(We) wanted to get (Ayoka) off the blocks early,” Collier said. “She’s their best player and leading rebounder and scorer. Just getting her less touches down low and on the block definitely was our game plan coming into the game.”
Taylor was a force of nature on both ends of the court, recording 13 points on the day. But it was her passing and defense — including a team high four assists and four steals — that helped the Longhorns maintain their lead throughout the second half.
“(Taylor) was great, really active (and) stayed out of foul trouble,” Schaefer said. “She was big, no question about it. She’s starting to play better. She’s playing with some confidence. I’ve got a lot of confidence in her. I love coaching her.”