Texas made a statement Tuesday night — just ahead of the Big 12 tournament.
The Longhorns jumped all over TCU in the second half to win by 34 and send a message to the rest of the conference.
“I believe we are better than anybody in this league,” head coach Karen Aston said.
And when the Big 12 tournament begins Friday, TCU will once again have to face off in the quarterfinals against a Texas squad that is firing on all cylinders.
“I’m looking for hungry dogs,” Aston said of her team’s fight heading into tournament play.
However, the final score, 79–45, doesn’t tell the whole story. The game wasn’t a rout during the first half.
Maybe Texas was still sluggish from its overtime loss in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Sunday. Or maybe its nine turnovers helped keep the Horned Frogs (17–12, 9–9 Big 12) close in the first half. Either way, the Longhorns (20–9, 9–9 Big 12) led by just 5 points at halftime despite an 11-point burst from junior guard Brady Sanders.
“We need to play attention to detail,” Aston said.
The team took Aston’s advice in the second half as they came out and executed almost flawlessly, turning the ball over just four times.
Behind sophomore center Kelsey Lang’s 13 points and eight rebounds in the second half, Texas rolled as it made up for its loss to TCU earlier in the year. The Longhorns outscored TCU by 29 in the half, shooting 55 percent from the field and holding the Horned Frogs to a meager 25 percent.
Texas took advantage of its size, going to the rim on offense and keeping TCU outside. Texas outscored TCU in the paint by a wide 36–10 margin and forced TCU to jack up 22 from deep, where they made just three shots. Lang finished with her second double-double of the season, as she tallied 19 points and 10 boards.
Apart from Lang, the rest of the scoring was balanced. The bench had itself a nice game, outscoring TCU’s sideline, 33–6.
Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford had 9 points and four blocks. Sophomore guard Brianna Taylor also chipped in on the glass, bringing down 10 rebounds.
While Texas’ scoring came from many sources, TCU’s offense was bunched. Junior guard Zahna Medley, junior forward Veja Hamilton and senior guard Natalie Ventress combined for 39 of TCU’s 45. The rest of the team shot 1-of-25 from the field and 3-of-9 from the free-throw line.
The win came on an emotional night that honored the team’s seniors: forward Nneka Enemkpali and guard Krystle Henderson. Enemkpali tore her ACL earlier in the year, effectively ending her college career.
“Today is their day,” Aston said. “Our day.”