Texas’ 21 turnovers nearly spoiled a night in which it grinded out an 85-77 victory over Kansas.
But in the middle of a slow drizzle in Austin, the Longhorns rained down enough 3-pointers to overcome the sloppy play en route to No. 1,100 win for the Texas program.
The evening looked promising right after tipoff. Texas gained possession first, and sophomore center Charli Collier made a 3-pointer within the first minute. Senior forward Joyner Holmes got involved early, too, scoring on assists from Collier and senior point guard Sug Sutton.
Then at around the six-minute mark, freshman guard Celeste Taylor rainbowed a pass. It went right into the hands of a Jayhawk. In the subsequent play, Kansas took the ball back down the court to score and tie the game up 9-9.
“It’s our first week back in school,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “We experienced kind of the same mental lull last year when we started classes, so maybe that was a little bit of our lack of focus today.”
Despite more turnovers from Holmes and senior guard Lashann Higgs, the Longhorns kept up with the Jayhawks who led 23-19 at the end of the first.
The second quarter began much like the previous one. Collier sank a three, and then senior guard Jada Underwood bounced a pass the ball to Kansas. The Jayhawks almost scored off a Texas turnover again, but Holmes swatted the ball away.
“When we needed to execute, we executed really well,” Aston said. “When we didn’t need to, we didn’t pay one ounce of attention to execution when we had a lead. And that’s bothersome to me that we didn’t put them away when we had the opportunity to do that.”
The block from Holmes seemed to trigger a momentum shift as the Longhorns tied the game up and eventually led Kansas by five points at the half. Collier ramped up her defense and sophomore guard Joanne Allen-Taylor hit two jumpers off the bench.
Out of the locker room, the clouds lifted and Texas became more aggressive. Collier, Holmes and Sutton scored quickly. Meanwhile, Allen-Taylor kept plays alive, dancing all over the court and showcasing the energy Aston said the young player brings to the team. Once Higgs started making more shots, it looked like the Longhorns were beginning to run away with the game.
Then one Jayhawk let her emotions get the best of her and pushed Holmes. The foul brought Holmes to the free throw line all by herself, where she sank one of two attempts.
In a way, the moment depicted the state of Big 12 play so far. Teams in the conference have beat up on each other all month. But even though Kansas rallied late and capitalized off the Longhorns’ 21 turnovers, Texas ultimately won the battle and the 1,100th all-time victory for the program.
“I’m blessed to be here and be a part of such a great tradition,” Collier said. “Knowing the amount of work it takes to make 1,100 wins … No one does that, so that’s amazing. Just gotta add onto that.”