The No. 9 Longhorns took No. 1 UConn down to the wire on Monday night at the Frank Erwin Center, but Texas couldn't pull off the upset, falling 75-71 to the Huskies. Here are five takeaways from Monday's showdown:
Texas came to play
Effort wasn’t the issue for the Longhorns.
Texas gave the 11,900 fans at the Frank Erwin Center something to cheer for right out of the gate, putting the No. 1 Huskies on notice with a quick 8-2 run to start the game.
The Longhorns made their living from behind the arc, spraying home four of their first eight attempts from three. Senior guard Brooke McCarty led the charge, setting the tone with a pair of early threes that sent the burnt orange faithful into a frenzy.
“I just trusted what the coaches had been telling me,” McCarty said. “It’s gotta go in sometime, so I trusted it.”
Texas also won the battle on the boards, out-rebounding the Huskies 12-7 and claiming an 8-3 advantage in second-chance points.
The Longhorns entered the second quarter with a 24-21 lead over the top team in the nation, becoming the first team to outscore UConn in the opening quarter all season.
UConn feasts off Texas’ turnovers in the second quarter
After committing just one turnover in the first quarter, the Longhorns lost focus, turning the ball over five times in the second.
Four different Texas players turned the ball over, giving life to a UConn squad that had been trailing since it took a 2-0 lead with 9:37 left in the first quarter.
The Huskies took advantage of the mistakes, converting them into six easy points and stringing together a 10-1 run to take a 39-38 lead at the half.
Texas’ 3-point woes prove costly in the third quarter
UConn hit its stride in the third quarter, clamping down on a Texas offense that wreaked havoc in the first half.
The Huskies focused on the leader of the Longhorn attack, senior guard Ariel Atkins, who had torched UConn with a couple threes in the first two quarters.
Atkins couldn’t get it going from deep in the third, going 0-3 as the Huskies began to build some separation. The Duncanville native didn’t receive any help either as the Longhorns shot a collective 0-5 from long distance.
“There were some segments where we took some ill-advised shots,” head coach Karen Aston said. “We’ll look back on (those shots) and wish we would’ve valued that possession a little bit more.”
Meanwhile, the Huskies put up 22 points in the third quarter, inflating their lead to 61-55 as the two teams entered the fourth quarter.
UConn wins at the free throw line
In a game that could’ve been decided by a coin flip, free throws proved to be the saving grace for the Huskies.
UConn shot 17-19 from the charity stripe on the night, including a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Crystal Dangerfield that iced the game with eight seconds left.
The Longhorns had their chances to pull off the upset down the stretch, but the team couldn’t capitalize at the free throw line. Texas shot 1-4 from the line, including a pair of misses by Atkins that would’ve cut the lead to one with 2:42 left in the game.
Texas shot just 8-14 from the charity stripe on the night.
Longhorns make statement in nail-biting loss
The loss marks the Longhorns’ second loss in the past three games, but Texas can hold its head high knowing it created something to build on as the second half of the season unfolds.
The Longhorns won the turnover battle, forcing UConn to 13 turnovers compared to their nine. Texas also utilized its size advantage, out-rebounding the Huskies 36-30 and cashing in on 16 second-chance points.
The four-point nail-biter also marks UConn’s closest game of the season, exposing holes in the armor of the nation’s prized juggernaut.
“Tonight showed who we are and who we can be,” McCarty said. “Every time you lose, it stings you a little bit, but this was a good growing point.”