Texas found itself in a tight battle with a team that it dominated earlier in the season.
The Longhorns beat Oklahoma State by 30 points on the road over a month ago, but the team went into halftime Wednesday night holding just a 31-27 advantage.
After the break, however, the Longhorns exerted their dominance over the Cowgirls, shooting 60 percent from the field in the second half en route to a 70-55 win.
“I’m really pleased with this win,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I thought Oklahoma State was playing terrific basketball. They’re constantly putting pressure on you to defend.”
Oklahoma State, winners of six-straight heading into the game, led for much of the first half after hitting a couple of three-pointers in the game’s opening minutes, forcing Aston to call an early timeout to wake her team up.
“It seemed like we were a little bit frozen to start the game,” Aston said. “I don’t know whether we were nervous because we knew that this would be a challenging game or we just needed our motors to start going.”
Sophomore guards Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty were all over the court following the timeout. Atkins lost her balance on one play but managed to lob a pass to McCarty before falling out of bounds with just over six minutes left in the first half.
McCarty drove the length of the court and laid it in to give Texas a 23-21 lead. The lead was Texas’ first since it led 2-0 at the 9:23 mark of the first quarter.
McCarty finished with 18 points on 70 percent shooting. She’s shot a team-high 41.6 percent from beyond the arc this season but did not attempt a single three on Wednesday.
“We have an attacking mindset,” McCarty said. “Coach Travis [Mays] comes in every day and tells us that we have to be aggressive.”
The Cowgirls pulled to within one early in the third quarter, but the Longhorns answered with an 11-0 run to take a 44-32 lead midway through the quarter.
Oklahoma State tried to make multiple runs to get back into the game, but Texas had an answer every time.
The victory marked the second-consecutive game in which the Longhorns started slow against an opponent they previously beat. The Longhorns beat Iowa State by 21 on Jan. 6 but trailed by four in the rematch on Saturday before coming back to win 65-49.
Aston said the growth of the team’s sophomores on her roster is the reason why her team pulls through late in games despite starting slowly.
“It’s a sign of maturity that we don’t get bothered by great starts or bad starts,” Aston said. “For a while, we thought every game was going to be a blowout because of the way we were starting. We now understand it’s not going to be like that.”