The Longhorns just couldn’t dial in the distance.
No. 20 Oklahoma State stifled their way to a seven-point lead with 5:58 left in the fourth quarter. No. 8 Texas entered the game shooting 33.6 percent from deep, but had only made two of their first seven tries.
Head coach Karen Aston knew her team had to turn things around. She tried running smaller lineups with more shooters earlier in the game. It didn’t work. The Cowgirls had an answer for every look.
Ultimately, it was up to the players to find a spark.
Junior guard Lashann Higgs rose up from the left corner and splashed a three off an assist from senior guard Brooke McCarty.
The triple gave Higgs 26 points on the night, breaking a career high she had set just two games ago. With each basket, her confidence grew.
“It was kind of like, kind of forcing myself to be mentally tough for the team,” Higgs said.“It was more about trusting in my work more. Trusting what my teammates and my coaches were saying.”
A few possessions later, sophomore guard Alecia Sutton drained another three, this time from the right corner. The Longhorns cut the lead 77-76.
Senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau blocked Oklahoma State’s next shot, and the Cowgirls sent Higgs to the free throw line after fouling her in transition. Higgs made both free throws to give Texas its first lead of the game since the first quarter.
“There are some teams, now that we’ve opened up conference play, that are trying to take away certain things,” Aston said. “And you can kind of pick your poison as far that’s concerned. What’s happened with (Higgs) is that she had a lot of openings tonight...and she made great decisions.”
McCarty made sure to keep her other teammates engaged as well. She finished the game with 10 assists, seven of which came in the fourth quarter.
“I always try to get my teammates involved, just because we have scorers everywhere,” McCarty said. “I know when I’m distributing the ball it’s either going in or our posts are going to get a rebound. And so, I have really big confidence in my teammates and giving them the ball.”
Following Higgs’ free throws, McCarty made a pair of her own to boost the Longhorns’ lead, 80-77, with 2:17 remaining. The Cowgirls scored on the next play and Higgs countered with a layup.
After Oklahoma State called timeout down three with 26 seconds left, senior guard Loryn Goodwin missed a three pointer. Sutton grabbed the rebound and found McCarty on the outlet pass. McCarty tossed it to junior transfer center Jatarie White streaking down the floor, who scored one last layup as the clock ran out of time.
Texas defeated the Cowgirls 84-79. Higgs finished with 30 points, followed by McCarty with 21. It was the first double-double of McCarty’s career. The victory pushes the burnt orange to 12-1 on the season and 3-0 in the Big 12.
The Longhorns will travel to Kansas State on Jan. 7 to take on the Wildcats. Tip-off is set of 1:00 p.m. Despite tougher opponents coming up on the schedule, Aston said she plans to take things one game at a time.
“We have K-State next,” Aston said. “I don’t know anything else.”