On an experienced Texas team, sophomore center Charli Collier has emerged as a star this season, averaging a double-double and giving Texas a boost that has been much-needed at times. In Monday night’s win over West Virginia at the Frank Erwin Center, she once again came through with a solid performance, scoring 11 points and pulling down 15 rebounds for her 13th double-double of the season.
“I feel like our preparation definitely (helped) us for the start of this game,” Collier said regarding the Longhorns’ early 13-2 lead. “We tend to start off slow, so if we can keep starting off how we did tonight I feel like we can compete with a lot of teams … we came out with a lot of energy … it was a good outcome for us.”
The Longhorns not only put an end to a two-game losing streak, the first such streak this season, but they also avenged an earlier loss to West Virginia, when the Mountaineers rallied in the last minute to deny Texas a comeback in Morgantown, West Virginia. There was no need for such a comeback this time around, as, thanks in part to Collier, the Longhorns never trailed Monday night.
“I’m just really proud of our team as far as reacting and responding to a really disappointing and tough loss (to Kansas),” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “Then talking about what we needed to do to get back to playing better, more competitive basketball. I thought we did that tonight.”
Collier was just one of two Longhorns that finished with double figures in points — senior guard Sug Sutton had 10 points of her own — and dominated the glass with her 15 rebounds. No other player on the court finished with 10 rebounds.
“I feel like we matched their physicality this game, and at times we were more physical than them,” Collier said. “It came down to who was going to be more physical, and we got the job done on that end and that really helped us a lot.”
Aston’s team had one of its best defensive performances in recent memory Monday, limiting the Mountaineers to an abysmal 0-for-15 from 3-point range. West Virginia managed just 44 points, the fewest points Texas has allowed in conference play and the second-fewest points allowed in the entire 2019-2020 campaign.
“I thought we had energy, I thought we really had a purpose … in particular defensively,” Aston said. “And so when we got stops, it gave our team confidence because we knew that was something that we needed to do better than we’d done in the last two games.”
The Longhorns have just five games remaining in the season and are currently ranked third in the Big 12. And Collier, who has developed into a strong leader for the Longhorns in just her sophomore season, understands the importance of each win as they try to make a final surge before the Big 12 Tournament.
“The past couple of losses were really sad,” Collier said. “This win definitely got our confidence up, and we can make another run for it.”