No. 8 Texas upset No. 4 Tennessee 64-53, snapping the Volunteers’ 27-game home winning streak. Freshman guard Lashann Higgs scored a career-high 18 points off the bench.
After an ugly road win against Rice on Nov. 21, head coach Karen Aston said she was proud of her team’s effort at the Thompson-Boling Arena.
“We’ve talked a lot about how we had to have a better road mentality,” Aston said. “It was a bit of an ugly game, but it usually is an aggressive game when these two teams play.”
Aston credited her guards’ good decision-making and aggressiveness for the team’s quick start. Higgs, who shot three-of-five from three, scored 13 points in the second quarter. The Bahamas native gave Texas its first lead of the game, 18-16, with a fast-break layup early in the second quarter. She followed that play with a free throw, a steal and a step-back three on the right wing. She capped off her scoring run with two layups to put the Longhorns up 29-24 at halftime.
Texas built on that lead with a 7-0 run early in the third quarter, ignited by junior guard Brianna Taylor’s assist to sophomore guard Brooke McCarty for a corner three.
But the Vols wouldn’t go down without a fight. They pulled within 5 before trading threes.
Senior guard Celina Rodrigo hit a deep three at the top of the key, and Higgs hit her third three of the game. Tennessee redshirt sophomore guard Diamond DeShields answered both with threes.
The Longhorns carried an 8-point lead into the fourth quarter and matched their largest lead of 11 points early in the fourth quarter. The Vols pulled as close as 56-52
before seniors Rodrigo, Empress Davenport, Imani Boyette and McCarty knocked down clutch free throws to secure the win.
As a team, the Longhorns shot 16-of-27 from the free-throw line and 21-of-53 from the field. They also powered 46.2 percent 3-point shooting to secure the 64-53 win. But they didn’t produce only offense. Aston said she was impressed with her team’s defense.
“Our defense from a team perspective was extremely good, and we stayed disciplined defensively,” Aston said.
The Longhorns held the Vols to 30.9 percent shooting from the field. DeShields led all scorers with 24 points and 11 rebounds. Higgs grabbed five rebounds to complement her career-high offensive performance. McCarty finished with 12 points and seven rebounds, while Boyette finished just shy of a double-double with 11 points and nine rebounds.
This is Texas’ second consecutive win against Tennessee. The Longhorns defeated the Vols 72-59 at home last season.
Aston said the team must still raise the bar with matchups against No. 8 Mississippi State and No. 13 Stanford looming.
“The exciting thing is, I think we can get a lot better,” Aston said. “But I am proud of how we came in and played with a great road mentality today.”
The Longhorns face No. 8 Mississippi State at home on Wednesday.