Head coach Karen Aston officially has a winning record at Texas. The Longhorns’ 70-58 win Wednesday night against Kansas gave Aston an all-time record of 24-23 on the 40 Acres.
“I feel good about that and just that we won,” Aston said. “I’m not really paying a whole lot of attention to that. I’m really pleased that our team is continuing to improve. We’re just worried about trying to get better every game.”
Although Texas walked away with the win, it didn’t start the game as gracefully as it ended it. In the first half, the Longhorns seemed slightly out of sync. Rebounds were being lost to the Jayhawks, four turnovers were committed and junior Nneka Enemkpali missed an unguarded layup only to have a collision with sophomore Brandy Sanders on the rebound, before finally sinking the two-point shot.
Despite looking confused in the first 10 minutes of the period, the Longhorns managed to go into halftime with a 12-point lead.
“We have had a tendency to relax between the 12 and eight minute mark, and we talked about that at the 12-minute timeout,” Aston said. “We said OK, this is where we seem to be having a lull. And I thought after that we refocused and sort of gained momentum again.”
In a battle of powerful defenses, Kansas pretty evenly matched Texas — a rare occurrence for the Longhorns, who rank first in the Big 12 in field-goal percentage defense and second in scoring defense. Initially, Texas fell victim to Kansas’s ability to hold it’s opponents to low shooting percentage and also their own inability to properly set up and sink shots.
Texas’s new-found energy and coordination in the second half, its ability to score in the paint — where more than 50 percent of their shots were made — and the amazing number of offensive rebounds it was able to gain was what made the difference for the Longhorns.
Imani McGee-Stafford, who scored 17 points in the first period alone, outshined Nneka Enemkpali, who is currently the team leader in points, rebounds and field-goal percentage. For the first time in her last 45 games, Enempkapli didn’t get to start last night, giving Stafford extra playing time and more opportunities to use her height to swoop in and convert offensive rebounds into a total of 24 points.
“My goal today was to take a shot if I had it, and it worked out,” Stafford said.
The Longhorns continue conference play and will attempt to maintain Aston’s winning record Sunday when they take on TCU at 1 p.m.