Brooke McCarty

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

No. 2-seeded Texas cruised to an 83-54 victory over No. 15-seeded Maine on Saturday evening in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With the win, the Longhorns will take on No. 7-seeded Arizona State on Monday at 8 p.m.

Here are four takeaways from Saturday’s game:

Longhorns box out

Texas used every inch of its reach advantage to build a 43-12 advantage on the boards. Maine never grabbed more than two rebounds in a single quarter.

Sophomore guard Blanca Millan secured the first board of the game for the Black Bears at the 2:17 mark in the first quarter. By the end of the quarter, sophomore forward Joyner Holmes had more rebounds (five) than Maine’s entire team (two).

Texas head coach Karen Aston emphasized to her team before the game how important winning the rebounding battle would be.

“That was one of the things that we actually had on the (team’s) board,” junior guard Lashann Higgs said. “It was like ‘rebound,’ with an exclamation mark, so we knew exactly what we tried to do was rebound.”

Brooke McCarty takes it easy

Brooke McCarty tied with Holmes for a team-high seven rebounds. But she didn’t show the same aggression on offense.

The senior guard didn’t take a shot until late in the second quarter. McCarty knocked down a trey off a dime from junior forward Olamide Aborowa with four seconds left in the half. She didn’t take her next shot until the 7:47 mark in the fourth quarter.

McCarty finished the game with seven points on 2-of-3 shooting and two assists. Aston was still pleased with the point guard’s performance, especially on the boards.

“I love point guards that rebound,” Aston said. “She's discovered ways to maneuver and pick up the loose ones when people box out. But I do love point guards that rebound, because we like to transition and it obviously starts your transition game if your point guard already has the ball in her hands.”

Ariel Atkins is made for March

Senior guard Ariel Atkins had much more success on offense. She hunted for open looks and knocked them down at every turn. She drained a triple from the right corner in Texas’ first possession of the game and never looked back.

Atkins finished the game with 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 from deep. She was just as effective in everything else, racking up four rebounds, four assists and two steals. She hopes the performance carries over moving forward in the NCAA Tournament.

“I think it gives us a good amount of confidence,” Atkins said. “I think the confidence comes from knowing what we did. We focused on their tendencies and what they did well. And I think we actually used our preparation and listened to our coaches and we stuck with the game plan. I think that's where the confidence comes from.”

So much for trimming the rotation

Aston knows she’ll need to cut down on her bench minutes at some point during the NCAA Tournament. But as long as her team can build a lead, as it did against Maine, she’s happy to give her starters a rest.

“We were able, luckily, in the Big 12 Tournament to play a lot of people because we did have a lead in both games where we were able to do that,” Aston said at Texas’ pregame press conference on Friday. “I mean, the rotation trims in tournament play. I think that's a realistic statement. I think the bigger key is just getting everybody prepared, even if it's a minute or two.”

Texas led 23-8 by the end of the first quarter, and Aston turned to her substitutes. The bench players combined for 128 minutes and 19 points. Each player was on the floor for at least 12 minutes.

“You just don't ever know when your number's going to get called in NCAA Tournament play,” Aston said after the game. “So I think it was very good for everyone to get some playing time and get their feet wet with the NCAA Tournament.”

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Ariel Atkins has become Texas’ level-headed, battle-tested leader over her four years with the team. But on Friday, for the first time in a long time, she was anxious.  

The Longhorns had just wrapped up their usual practice routine at the Frank Erwin Center, running the fast break, knocking down threes and working on post moves.

This practice was different, though. It marked the final session before the second-seeded Longhorns’ Saturday matchup against fifteen-seeded Maine in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

And although a loss would mean the end of Texas’ season, for Atkins, it would mean the end of an era.

“I guess you could say it's not nerve-wracking, but it is butterflies,” Atkins said. “This is my last time, my last chance to be a part of this program. Just can’t say enough about it.”

Atkins first stepped foot on the 40 Acres in the summer of 2014, joining a Longhorns team that had just suffered yet another early exit in the NCAA Tournament the previous season. The Duncanville, Texas, native made an immediate impact, making 19 starts and helping Texas to its first Sweet 16 appearance in a decade.

Fast forward 1,367 points and 106 wins later, and the senior gunslinger is now on her last ride, determined to extend it.

“It’s one of those things where you don’t want it to end,” Atkins said. “I love this team and everything about this program. I’m just thankful to be here and excited to keep it going.”

Texas’ tournament run starts with an opening-round matchup against a Maine team that’s carrying a six-game win streak into the postseason. The Black Bears are led by a backcourt duo of sophomore Blanca Millan and junior Tanesha Sutton, who combined for an average of 29.8 points per game during the regular season.

“They can shoot the three really well,” head coach Karen Aston said. “But they can score in a lot of different ways, so we’re going to have to be really good on defense.”

Atkins will have plenty of backcourt help herself, though, as fellow senior guard Brooke McCarty will also look to extend her collegiate career. The dynamic duo has been the driving force to Texas’ success over the past four years, leading the Longhorns all the way to the Elite Eight in 2016.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily hit me yet,” McCarty said. “It’s crazy to think this is our last go around. I'm just taking it day by day, having fun with it and enjoying these last moments.”

Texas will look to lean on Atkins and McCarty once more come Saturday as the Longhorns deal with a depleted frontcourt. Senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau has been out since Feb. 10 with a bruised left wrist, and freshman forward Rellah Boothe was declared unavailable for the postseason on Thursday due to an undisclosed personal reason.

“I think (Caron-Goudreau and Boothe) definitely are important to our team,” McCarty said. “But we have the people who we have, so we need to play, go to the next day, and keep rolling.”

Texas will have plenty of support in the stands, though, as the Longhorns will host the match in front of their fans at the Frank Erwin Center at 5 p.m. on Saturday – something Atkins has come to appreciate over the years

“It'll definitely be exciting to see them screaming and hollering and going crazy for us,” Atkins said. “They’ve always shown support, so it means a lot to be able to play in front of them again.”

Although Saturday’s matchup could be Atkins and McCarty’s last time in burnt orange, the senior duo remains focused; determined to earn the Final Four appearance that’s eluded them thus far.

Until then, it’s business as usual.

“I think (McCarty and I) came here and have given Texas everything we have,” Atkins said. “But we still have more to go. At this point it's just fighting for the next day.”

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Lashann Higgs had one less thing to worry about.

In No. 8 Texas’ past two games against No. 2 Baylor, Higgs was assigned to Baylor senior guard Kristy Wallace on defense. It didn’t go well for Higgs.

Wallace used her turbocharged first step to blitz past the Longhorns’ defensive stopper nearly every other possession. Wallace put up 27 and 23 points, respectively, en route to a pair of Baylor victories.

“The two previous games that we’ve played, particularly the first one against Baylor, I thought we were not as competitive as we needed to be,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said.

But on Monday night in Oklahoma City, Wallace didn’t step on the floor in Texas’ 77-69 loss to the Bears in the Big 12 championship game. Wallace suffered a torn ACL in her right knee on Baylor’s senior night against West Virginia on Feb. 26 and was ruled out for the season.

With Wallace out, Higgs had less responsibility for Texas on the defensive end. She turned her attention to the opposite end of the floor. 

Higgs had a penchant to score in threes. She kicked her evening off by draining a 3-pointer from the left corner. She followed it up by splitting a pair of Baylor defenders, drawing a foul from Baylor sophomore guard Juicy Landrum, scooping in a layup and converting the and-one free throw. 

By the end of the first quarter, Higgs had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Her offensive punch bookended multiple runs for Texas. The Longhorns hit a rough patch,  making just 1-of-8 shots. Higgs zipped to the hoop late in the shot clock and rose for a layup, but she was met by Baylor junior center Kalani Brown.

The ball rimmed out, but Higgs secured the offensive rebound and went straight back up. She drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws to cut the Bears’ lead to three points.

Later in the fourth, Higgs swiped the ball from Landrum at half court and sprinted to the basket. Landrum recovered just in time to swat the ball away on the fast break. Higgs kept her cool. She recovered the offensive board and found senior guard Brooke McCarty on the right side of the lane for the easy finish. 

Higgs’ assist was part of a 9-0 run for Texas that tied the game up at 55 points apiece with 7:13 remaining. Everything unraveled from there.

The Bears eventually took back the lead. Higgs drove down the baseline again with 1:42 left on the clock and the Longhorns down two. She floated the ball a step outside the lane, wary of Baylor sophomore forward Lauren Cox, who had seven blocks.

The ball ricocheted off the rim and into Cox’s hands. Sophomore forward Joyner Holmes tried swiping it back but was called for a loose ball foul, sending Baylor into the bonus. The call unnerved Aston. She let the officials know it and picked up a technical foul.

Cox hit all four of the ensuing free throws.

“I had a poorly, poorly, poorly timed technical that I take full responsibility for,” Aston said. “Definitely my fault on that one.”

“We still felt like we had a chance (to win),” senior guard Ariel Atkins said.

They didn’t. Though Texas fought hard until the end, Baylor closed the game out and won its eighth Big 12 championship in nine years. Higgs finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists in a game that saw 14 lead changes.

Despite the loss, the Longhorns still believe they’re talented enough to beat any team in the country. The next loss will be the last in the NCAA Tournament.

“I mean, this loss is disappointing,” McCarty said. “But, we have a bigger picture to look forward to.”

The Longhorns (26–6, 15–3 Big 12) will find out their seeding and first opponent during the NCAA Selection Show on March 12 at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Lashann Higgs couldn’t quite perfect her form.

Prior to No. 6 Texas’ 72-59 victory over Iowa State on Saturday, the junior guard had made just one 3-pointer in February. Her 14-point performance in an 87-55 home win over Iowa State on Jan. 27 was the last time she had scored double digits in a game.

Unsure of what was going wrong, she sought help from her coaches.

“Lashann is just one of our players that looks for help or instruction and constructive criticism to get better,” Texas associate head coach Tina Thompson said. “Especially at this time during the year, or because we have time limits, you can’t make them get in the gym. It has to be something that they want to do.”

Higgs was shooting around with Thompson before a practice on Feb. 9 at Denton A. Cooley Pavilion. Thompson wanted Higgs to catch the ball, dip and elevate for her shot in a single, fluid motion.

Higgs was a bit jerky — she kept raising her arms a split second after extending her legs during the jump. The delay threw her shot off.

“Just go down and up,” Thompson said, before passing the ball back to Higgs. “Down and up.”

Higgs has been dealing with ups and downs all season. She shot just 21.7 percent from deep during her sophomore season but has improved to 33.3 percent this year. She’s made three times as many treys.

The downs have been more common this month, though, especially on the offensive end. Before Saturday’s game, Higgs had made just one of her last seven shots from outside.

With two games left in the season, Higgs knew she didn’t have much time to figure things out. She finally turned things around in Ames, Iowa.

Late in the first quarter, junior center Jatarie White caught the ball in the middle of the floor and squared up with the basket. She noticed Higgs’ defender sagging off to help and kicked the ball to Higgs in the left corner. Higgs dipped, elevated and nailed the triple in a single, fluid motion.

She sank another with 6:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Alecia Sutton used an in-and-out crossover to get past her man and penetrate into the paint. Higgs’ defender sagged off again, and Sutton found her open on the right wing. Higgs knocked down the three, bringing her point total up to 12 and ending a seven-game single-digit point streak.

“The way (Higgs) scores is kind of, probably, different than any player in the country,” Thompson said. “She’s able to just use her genetic ability to kind of create things or make things happen that are pretty abnormal for most of us.”

Higgs finished Saturday’s game with 14 points, four rebounds, five assists and one steal. Texas (23–5, 14–3 Big 12) will need her to remain consistent on both ends of the floor as the team enters the postseason.

She’s also thrived as the team’s defensive stopper all year, averaging 1.6 steals per game.

“That’s the only way you can test yourself to see how good of a defender you really are,” Higgs said. “(I enjoy) guarding the best player.”

Senior guards Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty combined for 33 points and 15 rebounds against Iowa State, including a career-high 11 rebounds from McCarty. The pair look to close out their final season with a higher sense of urgency.

The Longhorns conclude their regular season against Oklahoma on Tuesday. Tipoff for senior night is set for 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Senior guard Brooke McCarty walked off the court on Monday night to the sight of a standing ovation and with her head held high.

The scoreboard of No. 6 Texas’ game against No. 3 Baylor showed a 93-87 victory for the Bears. And although they’d missed out on their biggest win of the season, the Longhorns felt they’d left it all on the court at the Frank Erwin Center.

Texas entered the battle of the Big 12’s top two teams determined to avenge its 81-56 loss to the Bears on Jan. 25, fighting tooth and nail with Baylor to force an 11-11 tie with 6:13 left in the first quarter.

The Bears awoke from their slumber, launching a 9-2 run fueled by six Texas turnovers. McCarty had an answer, though, as the senior guard sank a pair of consecutive open threes to cut the Baylor lead to 23-19 at the break.

“I thought our turnovers in the first quarter set us back a little bit,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “I thought we were playing very well defensively, but we just got in too much of a hurry.”

Desperate to shake the stingy Longhorns, Baylor hit even harder in the second quarter. The Bears began to crash the glass, out-rebounding an undersized Texas squad, 17-7.

McCarty kept Texas above water once again, lighting up the Bears for six points as the Longhorns cut the lead to 39-35 with 50 seconds before halftime.

But Baylor ended the quarter with a pair of unanswered buckets to claim a 43-35 lead at the half.

“I can’t look away from the rebounding number,” Aston said. “It was very clearly the difference in the game, and there were critical moments where we couldn’t get a defensive rebound.”

The Longhorns finally landed some punches of their own in the third quarter as Joyner Holmes began to expose the Baylor frontcourt. The sophomore forward gave an edge to a Texas team that’d been struggling to keep pace all night, scoring four points and totaling five boards in the quarter.

Atkins brought the crowd to its feet with 5:33 left, finishing on a fastbreak layup to give Texas a 51-50 lead — its first since 7:10 remained in the first quarter.

The one-point advantage lasted just 15 seconds as Baylor senior guard Kristy Wallace sank a floater on the baseline, igniting a 14-5 Baylor run. The Bears created separation once again, entering the fourth quarter with a 68-59 lead.

The Bears went for the knockout punch in the final quarter as Baylor sophomore forward Lauren Cox sunk a right-handed hook shot, plus the foul, to give her team a 77-62 lead with 6:44 left in the game.

Despite the game seemingly being out of reach, Texas kept fighting. McCarty continued to let it fly, drilling four three-pointers and posting 16 points in the quarter.

A late Longhorn comeback fell just short as the Bears escaped Austin with a six-point win.

McCarty finished the night with a career-high 32 points on 7-of-9 shooting from deep. The strong performance was a welcomed sight for a player who has shot just 32.5 percent from 3-point range all season.

Holmes also continued to show progress in the starting slot, finishing just shy of a double-double performance with 10 points and nine rebounds.

The Longhorns (22–5, 13–3 Big 12) hope to rebound from Monday’s loss as the Big 12 tournament, and a possible rematch against Baylor, looms in the distance.

“I think as a competitor you never want to lose,” McCarty said. “But at this point we can’t drown in our sorrows. We have to move on to the next game. We’ll see them again.”

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas got some of its worst news of the season on Thursday when it found out senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau had been ruled out indefinitely because of a left wrist injury she sustained in the Longhorns’ win over Kansas State on Feb. 10.

But the No. 6 Longhorns responded with a collective beatdown on Saturday afternoon in Stillwater, defeating No. 21 Oklahoma State, 77-62, in a game in which every player saw time on the court. Texas has now won seven games in a row.

Joyner Holmes, Caron-Goudreau’s replacement, made her presence known in the opening quarter. The 6-foot-3-inch sophomore forward took advantage of what was only her second start of the season, racking up an early 6 points, four rebounds and a block as the Longhorns claimed a 21-14 lead with 1:40 left to go.

But Oklahoma State responded, turning to freshman guard Braxtin Miller for a spark. Miller torched the Longhorns for 23 points when the two teams previously met on Jan. 3, and Saturday was no different.

Miller found that same swagger in the opening quarter, scoring 4 points as part of Oklahoma State’s 6-0 run to end the quarter. And with that, a quarter in which Texas dominated the Cowgirls, the Longhorns clung to a 1-point advantage, 21-20.

Texas upped the intensity in the second quarter, forcing five Oklahoma State turnovers and holding the Cowgirls to just 5-for-15 shooting.

This time, it was senior guard Brooke McCarty who led the charge on the offensive end, scoring 7 points in the quarter as the Longhorns opened up a 38-30 lead heading into halftime.

“We talked a little bit earlier this week about how if you get an open shot, you shoot,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “Especially with Brooke. She has a green light, so she needed to look more for her shot, and she did that today.”

Everything went wrong for Oklahoma State in the third quarter as Texas began to pull away. The Longhorns kicked off the second half with a crushing blow, jumping out to an 8-0 run in the first three minutes.

It was Jatarie White’s turn this time around. The junior forward fueled the run, scoring 6 points and forcing the Cowgirls into an early timeout.

Things didn’t get any easier for Oklahoma State, as the team shot a woeful 4-for-15 from the field. It was a group effort on the other side of the court, as six different Longhorn players scored in the quarter.

Senior guard Ariel Atkins delivered the dagger to end the period, sinking a midrange jumper at the buzzer to give Texas a commanding 55-41 lead.

Texas went into cruise control in the fourth quarter, slowing the pace en route to the 15-point victory.

The senior backcourt duo of McCarty and Atkins shined in the win. McCarty finished the outing with a team-high 17 points and six assists, while Atkins totaled 15 points and four rebounds.

“I think it’s a combination of them being seniors and having played at this level for almost four years now,” Aston said. “It’s a testament to their hard work. They’re always in the gym, and it’s paying off for them.”

The victory is one of Texas’ most impressive wins on the season, as four different Longhorns scored in double digits — a sign of the team’s depth in the aftermath of Caron-Goudreau’s injury.

“Yesterday in practice, Coach just told us to be ready when our number gets called,” said junior forward Jordan Hosey, one of the team’s biggest boosts off the bench. “We knew we’d need the whole team (today), so when our number got called, we just did what we could do.”

Texas (22–4, 13–2 Big 12) now shifts its focus to a home game against No. 3 Baylor on Monday night. The Bears handed the Longhorns their worst loss of the season on Jan. 25 in Waco, 81-56. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

Kansas State played two steps ahead on Saturday night, and it didn’t matter.

The No. 6 Longhorns won on the Wildcats’ terms at the Frank Erwin Center, besting a Kansas State team that seemed to make all the necessary adjustments.

Texas 76; Kansas State 54.

The first adjustment came two minutes into the game when junior forward Jatarie White put the Wildcats on notice by scoring the opening four Texas points and snagging two offensive rebounds.

Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie countered, quickly subbing senior forward Kaylee Page out for 6-foot-4-inch freshman center Mary Lakes. The increase in size proved effective as White went silent for the remainder of the quarter, failing to score another point.

The second adjustment came after the Longhorns (20–4, 11–2 Big 12) implemented a full-court press midway through the first — the same press that forced Kansas State into 19 turnovers when the two teams previously faced off on Jan. 7.

This time, the Wildcats kept their cool, repeatedly breaking the press and extending their range for a banquet of open threes. Kansas State made the Longhorns pay, shooting 3-of-4 from deep as Texas ended the first quarter with a hard-earned 23-21 lead.

“We got a little undisciplined,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “We fouled and didn’t always get back in transition, so I thought that allowed (Kansas State) to make a lot of plays.”

The Wildcats intensified the pressure in the second quarter, this time focusing on Texas’ attack in the paint. Kansas State forced the Longhorns to change their bruising style of play, using a 2-3 zone that dared them to shoot from deep instead.

The Longhorns failed to take advantage, shooting an abysmal 1-of-5 from long range as they clung to a 27-25 lead with 7:17 left before halftime.

With Texas’ starting lineup struggling to generate offense, Aston made an adjustment of her own, calling sophomore guard Alecia Sutton off the bench for a spark.

The move paid off as the St. Louis native scored four points, including a buzzer-beating 2-point pull-up before the half that capped off a 12-5 Longhorn run and gave Texas a 39-30 lead.

“I just felt like it brought the energy up after I made that shot,” Sutton said. “We were kind of dead in the first half, so I just wanted to give some energy to the team.”

With the game still up for grabs, Texas found its saving grace in senior Brooke McCarty. The shifty 5-foot-4-inch guard, who’d been contained to just four points in the first half, finally broke free in the third quarter.

McCarty exposed the Wildcats’ defense, igniting a personal 10-0 run as the Longhorns blew open a 60-41 lead with 3:30 left in the third quarter. For the first time all night, Kansas State didn’t have an answer.

Texas rallied around its senior leader as the Longhorns entered the final quarter of play with an imposing 66-44 lead.

“I just fed off my teammates,” McCarty said. “I tried to get them the ball, but when I was open they got me the ball and I just took advantage of what the defense gave me.”

The fourth quarter was merely a formality as Texas put the finishing touches on a 22-point win. McCarty finished the night with a team-high 17 points.

Sophomore forward Joyner Holmes also excelled, after senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau was sidelined by a left wrist injury in the second quarter. Holmes scored 11 points and added seven rebounds. The Cedar Hill native could see more minutes in the future, should Caron-Goudreau miss some time with the injury.

“I think I can contribute in whatever way my team needs,” Holmes said. “It’ll be tough, but I think I can fill her role as best as I can.”

The victory marked Texas’ fifth-straight season with at least 20 wins. The Longhorns have little time for celebration, though, as they now shift their focus to a home game against Texas Tech on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

 

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

WACO, Texas — The No. 6 Longhorns entered Thursday night’s road game against No. 3 Baylor with hopes of a season-defining victory. Those hopes were shattered as Texas fell to the Bears in an 81-56 blowout. Here are five takeaways from the game.

Cox commands attention in first quarter

The Longhorns walked into the Ferrell Center with their sights locked on Baylor forward Kalani Brown. The 6-foot-7-inch center has tortured defenses all season, averaging 21.7 points and crashing the boards for 9.3 rebounds per game.

But with Texas determined to contain Brown, Baylor forward Lauren Cox broke free. The sophomore made the Longhorns pay in the first quarter, going 3-for-3 from the field and sinking all five shots at the free throw line for 11 total points.

The Bears won the opening quarter in every way, out-rebounding, out-shooting and out-hustling the Longhorns to take a 28-18 lead at the break.

“I expected (Baylor) to be really passionate and energetic in the way that they played,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “But I’m surprised by our team’s lack of composure and competitiveness in the first quarter.”

Baylor shuts down McCarty in the first half

Senior guard Brooke McCarty is the engine for the Longhorns, and that engine couldn’t start in the first half.

The League City native found herself at the mercy of Baylor guard Kristy Wallace, unable to create penetration and get open looks for her team.

McCarty totaled just four points on 1-of-8 shooting at the half as the Bears laid into the Longhorns, outscoring them 22-9 to break the game wide open.

Texas shot 26.5 percent in the first half as the Bears entered halftime with a commanding 44-27 lead. The 17-point deficit marked the most the Longhorns had trailed all season.

Brown explodes in the third quarter

With the Longhorns still doozy from the first half, Brown hit her stride in the third quarter.

The 11th-highest scorer in the nation owned the paint, exploiting Texas’ defense for nine points on 4-of-8 shooting.

Brown got the undisputed victory in her highly anticipated matchup with junior forward Jatarie White, crashing the glass for four rebounds to White’s one in the third quarter.

Texas had no answer as the Bears cruised into the final quarter with a 64-42 lead.

Baylor doesn’t ease up in the fourth quarter

The Bears kept their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter, tallying four offensive boards and forcing four Texas turnovers.

Wallace continued to win the battle against McCarty, finishing with 27 points on the night, including nine in the fourth quarter alone.

“(Wallace) controlled the game from the jump,” Aston said. “She made a lot of plays for (Baylor) and had a big game.”

The Bears kept their starters in until the final buzzer sounded, securing a dominant 81-56 victory at home.

Texas shows glaring flaws in loss

The 25-point trashing is Texas’ largest loss since 2016 when the Longhorns fell to Baylor, 74-48, on Feb. 29.

Frontcourt scoring proved fatal for the Longhorns as senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau and White combined for just 11 points. Three-point woes also plagued Texas as the Longhorns shot an abysmal 3-for-15 from behind the arc.

For a Texas team that fell just short to No. 1 UConn in a 75-71 heartbreaker on Jan. 15, Thursday’s blowout defeat is a step backward.

“It is frustrating when you don’t show up,” senior guard Ariel Atkins said. “They out-worked us, had more energy and played with passion. They were a team tonight, and we weren’t.”

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

WACO, Texas — Three looks inside and zero points to show for it.

Late in the second quarter of No. 6 Texas’ 81-56 loss to No. 3 Baylor on Thursday night, sophomore guard Alecia Sutton received an inbound pass near the left block, a half-step in front of her defender. Another dribble would have given her a chance at a layup.

Instead, Sutton just glanced inside and dribbled back near the top of the key to reset the offense. She noticed junior forward Olamide Aborowa wide open on the opposite side of the lane and lobbed a pass.

Aborowa mishandled the catch. She pump-faked once, then pitched it to Jada Underwood in the middle of the floor. The sophomore wing hesitated, then tried for an up-and-under post move right before the shot clock ran out.

A thicket of long-limbed Bears loomed in the paint. The Longhorns couldn’t explode their way through it. They tried dancing around it instead, but never found the right rhythm. The ball rimmed out, completing a sequence that encapsulated Texas’ night.

“I didn’t think they played scared. I just didn’t think they matched Baylor’s passion,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “There’s been a couple of times this year when we haven’t done that. And this was by far our worst performance as far as simple things like competition.”

Baylor sophomore forward Lauren Cox collected the rebound and found freshman guard Alexis Morris on the outlet pass. Morris zoomed to the opposite end of the court and hit a mid-range jumper in transition, putting Baylor up 44-25 with 41 seconds left in the quarter.

Senior guard Brooke McCarty dripped in a buzzer-beating floater to end the half, but Texas was ultimately exiled to the perimeter. The Bears finished the game with seven blocks — including six from Cox alone — and out-rebounded the Longhorns, 50-34.

“I would say that their size and their length definitely makes it a little bit more difficult,” junior guard Lashann Higgs said. “But we’re just not competitive. They out-competed us. They were just tougher than us and were playing with a purpose.”

The Longhorns struggled just as much from outside. Texas launched plenty of open triples and jump shots, but the ball rarely found the bottom of the net. McCarty and fellow senior guard Ariel Atkins combined to shoot just 8-for-30 from the field and 3-for-10 from three for 27 points.

Atkins’ composure suffered. Once the game slipped away, she began setting the ball on the floor after every call against Texas rather than handing it to the referee. She committed seven of the team’s 16 turnovers.

“It is frustrating when you don’t show up,” Atkins said. “They out-worked us, had more energy, they played with passion. They were a team tonight and we weren’t.”

Baylor (18–1, 8–0 Big 12) was one of the toughest opponents Texas (15–4, 6–2 Big 12) has played all season. 

Still, Aston knew her team could have performed better.

“I was a little surprised — a lot surprised by the lack of composure and competitiveness,” Aston said. “It was just a little bit of an old-fashioned butt-kicking.”

The Longhorns can’t afford to dwell on the loss. The Big 12 doesn’t allow teams much time to rest between games, and Texas is no exception.

“You’ve just got to go on to the next thing and just get back into the gym,” Higgs said. “Baylor wanted it more, so we can’t dwell on it.”

Texas hosts Iowa State at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We have to turn the page really quickly,” Aston said. “(Friday) will be more of a mental day. It’s not one of those times where you can go in there and run them to death or try to fix a competitive thing. They know — they’re competitive players. They know that they didn’t show up tonight. We have to turn the page and get ready for Iowa State.”

Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

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.”