The crowd at the Frank Erwin Center erupted Saturday after senior center Imani Boyette banked in a lengthy layup, drawing a foul early in the fourth quarter.
The old-fashioned 3-point play put the No. 6 Longhorns in front by five points with nine minutes to play — less than half the amount of Texas’ largest lead of the game, 14.
The No. 19 Sooners fought to within three points with 15.8 seconds left. Boyette countered by quickly flicking a pass to sophomore guard Brooke McCarty, who raced down the court and finished the layup, giving Texas an 81-76 lead with eight seconds left. The Longhorns would go on to win 83-76 after a pair of Boyette free throws.
“[When] we get into stressful situations, they’re very calm and very confident,” head coach Karen Aston said of her team. “I never feel like they don’t think they can win.”
The Sooners took an early 8-4 advantage. A 7-0 run capped by a McCarty corner three gave Texas its first lead of the game, 11-8.
Oklahoma (13-5, 4-3 Big 12) quickly regained the lead after two layups from sophomore center Vionise Pierre-Louis. Sophomore guard Ariel Atkins responded with a three for Texas to take the lead once again, but Pierre-Louis wasn’t done.
She ended the quarter with four points in the final 42 seconds, including a short jumper that barely beat the buzzer and tied the game at 16. Pierre-Louis finished with a game-high 23 points on
Despite the big effort from her own center, Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale said that Imani Boyette is arguably the best center in the nation.
“I think she is definitely the best center in college basketball,” Aston said. “The difference in Imani right now is that she will give up a bucket or we will give up a bucket and then she will go down and demand the ball and produce.”
Boyette took over for Texas (18-1, 7-1 Big 12) in the fourth quarter. She scored seven of her 18 points in the final period. The senior also finished with 11 rebounds and seven blocks.
Boyette said that she was disappointed in her defensive effort in spite of the number of Sooners’ shots she blocked.
“It’s cool to get seven blocked shots, but it’s not cool when the person playing across from you is getting 20 points,” Boyette said. “That’s just not something I do, and I need to be solid for my teammates.”
The Longhorns will stay in Austin this week to play Kansas (5-13, 0-7) at 7 p.m. Wednesday. A win would make Texas only the fifth program to record 1,000 all-time wins.