Texas sent off the year in one of the best ways possible, defeating Northwestern State 104-66. It was the Longhorns’ first game passing the 100 point mark since November 2017. While the game was not advertised as, or anticipated to be, a marquee matchup, the Longhorns left the Frank Erwin Center having sent a significant message.
The Longhorns found themselves up by 41 at the end of the third quarter, in large part due to their outstanding 3-point shooting. As a team, Texas made shots from all over the floor, leading to 12 threes on a staggering 63 percent, a season-high and the opposite of its usual output.
“We chose to try to take them out of the paint,” Northwestern State head coach Jordan Dupuy said. “Coming into the game, they only had two shooters over 30 percent (from 3), and today they hit."
Danni Williams found her shot Saturday, which was much needed. Williams, who is known for her 3-point ability, struggled heavily in the early part of this season. If Saturday’s game was any indication of how her shot will look for the rest of the season, then Texas will have some much-needed shooting going into conference play.
Along with Williams’ big day, Sug Sutton, Destiny Littleton and Olamide Aborowa all had career days. Sutton had 18 points while shooting 4-for-4 from beyond the arc. Littleton added onto Sutton’s game with 22 points of her own.
“We had fun,” Littleton said. “That’s something we’ve been working on, putting energy into other people.”
Aborowa translated that energy into one the best performances of the afternoon, taking advantage of the fact that neither Charli Collier nor Jatarie White played. Her 6-foot-3-inch frame allowed her to dominate a team that doesn’t carry a player over 6-foot-1-inch, putting up 17 points and grabbing six rebounds.
With nonconference play over, Texas can finally focus on Big 12 matchups and its path to a conference championship.
“I have not looked past Wednesday,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “If you don’t approach the Big 12 like that, you’re going to get in a lot of trouble.”
Aston’s players also know the challenges of the conference. Sutton, one of the team’s leaders, embraces them.
“I like the fact that it is very competitive,” Sutton said. “Every team is competitive and we get to play everybody at least twice. It makes us stronger as a team.”
Texas’ win is a step in the right direction heading into Big 12 play. Although the Longhorns have had a couple hard losses against top teams, they are still the second-ranked team in the Big 12. Despite their ranking and three-game winning streak, there’s still room for improvement.
“We’ve got to find that (grit) permanently,” Aston said. “I’m not sure that we’ve found that yet. ”
Texas plays against Oklahoma State on Jan. 2 at 7 p.m.