Fussell sparks first Big 12 win despite shaky second half

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For a team that has been lacking in the win department, a win, whatever way it may come, is a win.

“We needed a win to gain some confidence,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “I know it wasn’t pretty, but I think we’re just glad to get one under our belts and move forward and build on this.”

Acquiring their first conference win Saturday was a breakthrough, but for the Longhorns (12-7, 1-4), just because they finally have a number other than zero in the win column of their Big 12 record does not mean the squad will turn to resting on its laurels.

“It feels pretty good,” said freshman Chassidy Fussell about Saturday’s win against Oklahoma State. “But I feel like we could have won more games than we have.”

From the win, the Longhorns have gained crucial confidence. Their exceptional defensive efforts throughout much of the game, including 13 total steals and junior Ashley Gayle leading a block party with six, undoubtedly fueled Texas toward the win. Texas allowed the Cowgirls only nine field goals in the first half.

But the strong defense could only do so much to mask a weak shooting game. Unlike recent games, in which the Longhorns allowed their opponents to claw their way back into the game with second-half comebacks, the squad focused on battling and keeping the Cowgirls at bay. In the face of obstacles, the Longhorns were able to prevail.

“When they were coming back, I was just thinking that we don’t want to let this happen again because we’ve had several games where we’ve had a lead and the other team has come back,” said senior Kathleen Nash. “We just focused on taking care of the ball and not having those turnovers and build on the lead.”

Holding onto their second-half lead was momentous, as recent losses resulting from opponent’s second-half comebacks or overtime defeats are all because of the Longhorn’s lack of attack and inability to remain poised.

For Goestenkors, she does not allow her squad to think that garnering a lead means they are in the clear.

“We don’t enjoy prosperity because every time we get it up and we are ready to end it, we turn the ball over, have some poor shot selection, and we let them get back in the game,” Goestenkors said. “Once again, that’s a concern. We can’t do that.”
So now, after Saturday’s win, Texas is turning their focus toward its next hurdle. Wednesday, the Longhorns travel to Lubbock where they are set to take on Texas Tech.

Texas knows it can play better and hopes to prove so against the Red Raiders. The Longhorns know they are capable of going into a hostile environment and taking a win, as they proved last season in a double overtime victory in Lubbock. The win also snapped Texas’ six-game losing streak in the United Spirit Arena.

Texas Tech will be entering the game in the midst of a two-game skid in which it lost to both No. 14 Oklahoma and No. 1 Baylor.

Texas knows its recent win will help boost its confidence, but it still has work to do. Forcing the Cowgirls to commit a season-high 26 turnovers, leading to 31 points, was a definite defensive triumph. But the Longhorns know there is some work to be done with regards to getting on the glass, as Texas was out-rebounded by OSU by a margin of 52-31.

“We still have to pick it up in practice and rebound and get our defense better,” Fussell said.