Texas women’s basketball defense looks to make statement against Kansas

Tong Vu

It’s no secret that Texas is a defense-first team. 

The Longhorns have only managed 35 and 59 points in their last two matchups, respectively, but were bailed out by a strong defensive effort in a bounce-back win against Kansas State on Sunday.

But head coach Vic Schaefer knows that if the Longhorns want to win Wednesday night in Lawrence against an underrated Kansas team, Texas has to channel the same defensive prowess that carried it against Kansas State.

“We’re not a team that’s going to win the 90-88 battles,” Schaefer said. “We’ve got to go in there and lock in and guard.”

While the 90-88 reference may seem like a stretch, it isn’t when it comes to the Jayhawks. Kansas has scored 98 and 82 points in its last two matchups and ranks fourth in scoring offense in the Big 12.

The Longhorns’ defense will have its hands full against the Jayhawks. However, Schaefer remains confident in his unit defensively and said junior guard Audrey Warren will be a key factor.

“Trying to keep (Warren) in the lineup I think really helps us defensively,” Schaefer said. “She’s that tough, physical, aggressive player that we really, really need.”

Warren has been in and out of the lineup for the majority of the season but has recently found a role and will play an important part in her team’s success moving forward.

Although the Longhorns have noticeably struggled offensively, the main focus from the beginning of the season, and now, has been defense. With only four games left on the schedule, Schaefer emphasized that nothing has changed, and defense is still the focus.

“We have to defend,” Schaefer said. “We’re just not going to win the shootouts”.

Shooting only 39% from the field Sunday night against the Wildcats, Schaefer’s unit relied heavily on turning their defense into offense. Texas forced 21 turnovers and scored 26 points off the Kansas State miscues, something it hopes to replicate against Kansas. 

The Longhorns’ dominance on the boards has also been a key this season and will be a factor Wednesday night if Warren and junior forward Charli Collier can take advantage of a lacking Kansas post presence.

When speaking further on how his team will have to perform Wednesday night and moving forward into the final stretch of the season, Schaefer said,“Certain players have to perform at a certain level every night,” — something he attributes to inconsistent play from key players this season. 

“It’s really important that we have certain players do their job every night,” Schaefer said. “We’re too young and too inexperienced coming off the bench.”

As the regular season nears its end, the Longhorns are looking to make a closing statement heading into the postseason, beginning with tomorrow night’s road matchup.

“We are on a business trip starting today,” Schaefer said. “We’re going up there (Lawrence) to visit no one — we’re going up there to win a game.”