It wasn’t too long ago that Texas picked up its first conference win in a comeback victory over Iowa State in Ames, Iowa.
On Wednesday, the Cyclones will try to return the favor and pick up a road victory in Austin.
Head coach Karen Aston’s team was able to mount a comeback against the Cyclones in Ames, Iowa, back on Jan. 6 in an 81-75 win. And in a conference that has seen more than its fair share of parity this year, road conference wins come at a premium.
“(Ames) is a really hard place to win,” Aston said after the Iowa State win. “I told our team that anytime you get a road win, it’s a huge thing, and obviously in Ames, it’s really big.”
Those wins sure haven’t been hard to come by for the Longhorns recently, though.
After a loss to West Virginia in January that brought the Longhorns’ record to 9–6, there was a very real concern that Aston’s team might miss the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2013. However, Texas has kicked it up a notch since that loss, winning six of its last seven games and positioning itself for another matchup with the Cyclones.
The Longhorns perhaps benefited from a much-needed break after their loss to Baylor at the end of January, as they were off for over a week before their win over Texas Tech on Sunday.
“We’ve been off nine days, so I kind of expected a little bit of game rust,” said Aston, after the win over Texas Tech, in which the Longhorns fell behind early before picking up the momentum. “And that’s sort of what it looked like early in the game. But I thought that the energy defensively changed … I just thought our wheels got turning a little bit better.”
The Longhorns will have to matchup against the Cyclones’ leading scorer, sophomore guard Ashley Joens, who averages just over 21 points per game and has put together two consecutive double-doubles against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, respectively.
She should pose an interesting challenge for senior guard Sug Sutton, who on Monday was listed as a top-10 finalist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which “recognizes the top point guard in NCAA Division I women’s basketball,” according to a statement from Texas Athletics.
Sutton made the difference in the Longhorns’ last game against Texas Tech, going on an offensive run late in the third quarter and early in the fourth to give Texas the edge they would retain.
“It was huge because at that point we were struggling … We were trying to feed the ball inside but weren’t finishing very well,” Aston said on Sutton’s run after the game. “Sug(’s) aggressiveness offensively was really the difference.”
The Longhorns will likely need to start strong to avoid getting behind early against a Cyclone squad that can jump on teams early. But even if Texas does fall behind, the team is unlikely to panic, especially behind its veteran leadership, which includes senior guard Lashann Higgs.
“We had to reassure each other that runs like this happen in games and you just can’t falter,” Higgs said when the Longhorns went behind against Texas Tech early on. “We told each other that as long as we get the stops, that’ll create the energy offensively, and that’s what happened.”