In a game honoring cancer survivors Monday night, the Texas women’s basketball team was able to grind out a 50-44 victory over West Virginia.
Unlike recent matchups, the Longhorns enjoyed an aggressive start to the annual Shoot for the Cure game. Sophomore center Charli Collier scooped a layup and in and sank a 3-pointer to put her team up 5-0 early into the first quarter to start the game.
“I thought we had energy,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I thought we really had a purpose as we started. In particular, defensively.”
Good defense and effective ball movement allowed the Longhorns to further extend their lead throughout the first period. A layup from senior guard Sug Sutton right before the buzzer put Texas up 21-10 heading into the second quarter.
The Longhorns would carry their first quarter energy into the next period, first with a monster block from senior forward Joyner Holmes and then with two scores from Sutton.
“If I go back and look at the film, it’ll surprise me if I see too many possessions where we didn’t play hard,” Aston said. “And we needed to get moving in that direction again.”
Texas didn’t hold back after halftime either. The third quarter saw the Longhorns play the kind of team basketball that has been absent in their recent losses. The frontcourt duo of Collier and Holmes combined for 19 points on the night.
“I feel like we got great position in the paint, but also our guards fed us the ball well,” Collier said. “It just frees up everything when you can get the ball inside.”
But Texas stayed alive with gutsy drives to the hoop from Holmes and Higgs as the final quarter came to a close.
“For a minute there we kind of hesitated,” sophomore guard Audrey Warren said. “But we realized if we just play our game, do what we did in the first half, do what we practice. We knew we’d come out victorious.”
The Longhorns honored cancer survivors in the crowd at halftime, and before and after the game. While they picked up another Big 12 win, they also had the chance to play hard for those in the crowd who are supporting the battle against cancer.
“I hope we’ll continue to do this,” Aston said. “We’re fighting trying to find a cure, and those women we ran (by) in the tunnel — they’re fighting every day. It’s the least we can do to show up and play hard when they come here.”