Joyner Holmes grabbed a defensive rebound and soared coast-to-coast to finish on the other end.
It took the freshman forward five seconds to secure the board, make her way down court and tack on two points for the No. 12 Longhorns in their 69-61 victory over No. 24 Kansas State on Monday night in Manhattan, Kansas.
Holmes carried the Longhorns on both ends of the court against the Wildcats. She poured in a game-high 17 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had a perfect 5-of-5 outing at the free-throw line.
The Longhorns didn’t end the regular season with an easy matchup, but they ended it on a high note.
“We knew they were gonna come hard,” Holmes said. “We haven’t been playing too well in our last three games, so we had to come out hard. Each team brought out their best tonight, and we won.”
Sophomore guard Lashann Higgs aided Holmes on offense, tying her season high in scoring with 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Higgs, who adds a much-needed spark for the Longhorns on defense, also recorded two steals in the victory. Higgs made her second start of the season in place of senior guard Brianna Taylor.
But Taylor showed up for the Longhorns, too.
In her final regular-season game in burnt orange, Taylor notched her first career double-double with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Taylor isn’t usually a go-to scorer, but she combined for 23 points in Texas’ past two games.
The first quarter was quiet. The nets were unforgiving on both ends of the court.
Texas silenced Kansas State — a normally poised shooting team — to 29 percent from the field in the top-25 matchup.
After a 4-0 start, the Longhorns went scoreless for the next four minutes and 28 seconds. And the Wildcats didn’t get on the board for the first seven minutes of play. Both teams combined for 6-of-33 shooting after the first-quarter buzzer sounded.
But the Longhorns responded.
The Wildcats took a brief 17-16 lead midway through the second period, but an 11-2 run boosted the Longhorns back in front to take a 27-19 lead into the half.
The Longhorns and the Wildcats exchanged momentum shifts for much of the second half, but a clutch night at the free throw line and tight defense down the stretch kept the road team afloat.
“It’s a really solid defensive effort for our team,” head coach Karen Aston said.
With the victory, the Longhorns clinch second place in the conference and the second seed in the Big 12 Tournament. The three-game skid was tolling for Aston’s young Longhorns, but there’s still work to be done.
“This is a grind,” Aston said. “We hit that part where we had all those games on those turnarounds that I thought really fatigued our team. We learned some lessons probably from it, but I do think we’ll be energized when we get to tournament play.”