To say it’s been a rough stretch of play for Texas women’s basketball would be an understatement.
After cruising to a convincing 81-66 victory over the Red Raiders on Feb. 9, the Longhorns dropped back-to-back games to Iowa State at home and Kansas on the road. Texas beat both teams earlier in the season.
“Every night (in the Big 12) is pretty tough,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said after the loss to Kansas. “Especially when you get to that second round when everybody knows each other really well.”
The Longhorns will play their fourth game in one week on Monday night against West Virginia. Texas fell to the Mountaineers 68-63 in their last meeting in Morgantown. This time around, the Longhorns will look to snap their losing streak in Austin.
Turnovers have been less of a problem for Texas as Big 12 play has worn on, but poor shooting continues to be its Achilles’ heel. Against Iowa State, the Longhorns shot 21-of-78 from the field.
The numbers only slightly improved against Kansas, as Texas shot under 37%.
“It was just one of those nights shots weren’t falling, shot selection wasn’t the best,” sophomore center Charli Collier said after the loss to Iowa State. “We played great at Iowa State, so it’s just one of those games.”
Time and time again, the Longhorns find themselves incapable of playing a full 40 minutes. If the first half of Big 12 play showed that Texas has the talent to compete with anyone, the second half has raised more questions than answers about the ability to play consistently good basketball.
“We haven’t necessarily played four quarters in a while,” Aston said. “I mean, if I had an answer I would fix it, most definitely. I tried a different lineup (against Kansas) to see if it would give us a little different vibe.”
The bigger lineup posed different problems than Texas was used to. An inability to stop efficient guard play that doomed the Longhorns against Kansas may be an issue again against West Virginia.
When the teams first met in January, the Mountaineers were propelled by guards Kysre Gondrezick and Tynice Martin. Martin scored 23 points and Gondrezick nearly matched with 21 of her own.
In that game, the Longhorns came surging back after being down 13 points early in the third quarter. But a 3-pointer from Gondrezick following an offensive rebound brought the comeback, and Texas’ chance of winning, to a halt.
As Texas stumbles into a crucial stretch of the season, the difficulty of the Big 12 is made even more evident. To avoid another loss, Aston’s squad will have to come through in the big moments.
“You never want to say it was all because of one play, but Big 12 games are going to come down to possessions,” Aston said after the January loss to the Mountaineers. “You can’t show up and play like that against a team like West Virginia.”