Kelsey Lang

Sophomore center Kelsey Lang had 19 points and 10 rebounds in her second double-double of the season. She helped the Longhorns outscore TCU 36–10 in the paint.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

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.”

Freshman guard Brooke McCarty drives past the Baylor defense. McCarty had her game-tying shot blocked at the end.
Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

With two minutes remaining in the game, and down by 5 points, Texas found itself in a position to end its losing skid. But Baylor proved to be too much once again — and the Longhorns fell to the Bears for the second time this season, 70-68.

Three pointers from freshman guard Brooke McCarty and junior guard Brady Sanders cut the deficit to 4 points in the waning minutes for Texas. After a missed Baylor field goal, sophomore guard Brianna Taylor’s mid-ranged jumper made it a 2-point game, and, with less than a minute remaining, Texas had the opportunity to tie, or even win. But Baylor forward Nina Davis blocked McCarty’s floater, and it was all over.

“It was a play that I felt like we were comfortable running,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I did think we could get to the next portion of the play, which would have been an odd ball with [sophomore center Kelsey Lang] coming out the setting one with [freshman guard Ariel Atkins], which would have gotten them in a two-man game.”

Sanders said she felt the failure of the last play. 

“I missed Ariel coming off the screen, and I should have tried to definitely get it to her,” Sanders said. “But I shouldn’t have had that mistake.”

Sunday’s match is the 10th straight time the Bears defeated the Longhorns, who now sit at 4–7 in the Big 12. Baylor found holes in Texas 2–3 defense in both halves finding quality looks for 3-point shots and penetrating the lane. Aston said despite the team’s shortcomings, she felt encouraged by their performance.

“Obviously there are no moral victories in this game at all, but I’m pleased with the way we played the game today,” Aston said.” I think if we can build on this then we can get back on track.”

Lang picked up a double-double, scoring 20 points with 11 boards. Sanders led the team with six assists, joining double-digits club with 14 points, and Taylor ended with 11 points and seven rebounds.

Junior guard Empress Davenport returned to action and played 22 minutes with 2 points, but ultimately fouled out. She had missed the last two games after injuring her right shoulder.

Despite the loss, Aston said she felt this was the first game where the team was ready to move forward from the adversity it has faced this season. Lang also said she thinks the team is starting to understand how to move forward without senior forward Nneka Enemkpali.

“No one person is going to fill what she was, because she was an amazing player,” Lang said. “But we are all starting to realize we need to take on a little part of her role. Hopefully that will help fill the void.”

Texas returns to action Wednesday in Stillwater, Oklahoma, against Oklahoma State.

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins dominated the game for the Longhorns with 21 points in the 84-81 double overtime win Thursday night.
Photo Credit: Ellyn Snider | Daily Texan Staff

Head coach Karen Aston finally captured a major milestone Thursday night. 

Aston achieved her 150th victory with the No. 14 Longhorns after beating No. 24 Oklahoma in double overtime 84–81. 

“Just really, really proud of our basketball team,” Aston said. “Obviously we’ve been through some adversity the last couple of weeks. We’ve been in a little bit of a lull, but hopefully this will give us some excitement.”

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins started things off by winning the tip and immediately putting two points on the board for Texas. However, the Longhorns found themselves behind for most of the first 30 minutes despite Atkins’ 7 points in the first half. 

At the break, Oklahoma led 33–30, and the Sooners started the second half with 4 straight points that forced Aston to call a timeout. 

That’s when Texas started its comeback. 

Junior guard Brady Sanders knocked down a 3-point shot, closing the gap to within 10. Shortly after, sophomore center Kelsey Lang drew a foul and completed a 3-point play, leaving Texas down by only 4 points. 

The Longhorns held Oklahoma to just 38.5 percent shooting in the second half and out-rebounded the Sooners 31–28. Several players finished with multiple blocks, including junior center Imani McGee-Stafford, whose block late in the game pushed the momentum back to Texas. McGee-Stafford also had her best game since returning from her injury, but the win mattered more to her. 

“I didn’t even know I had a good game until now,” McGee-Stafford said. “I just care about winning. It’s nice to know I am playing better, but I’m just focused on winning.”

Following Sanders’ layup that tied the game, junior guard Empress Davenport made two free throws, giving the Longhorns the lead with 5:30 left. However, Oklahoma would eventually even it up to send the game to overtime.  

One extra period wouldn’t be enough, though, as the game went into a second overtime. With a minute left, Lang scored to give Texas the lead, which it held for the remainder of the game. 

“A lot of players made a lot of plays,” Aston said. “Everybody that came in the game contributed, which is what I said all along from the very beginning this team has to be about.”

Atkins tallied a career-high 21 points, while four other Longhorns shot in the double-digits. 

Texas will take on TCU in Fort Worth on Sunday.

Sophomore center Kelsey Lang and Texas are off to a 5-0 start after their upset win over Tennessee.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

The fourth-ranked Longhorns women’s basketball team will continue its six-game home stand at the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against New Mexico.  

Texas, now 5-0, ended a five-game losing skid against Tennessee with its win over the Lady Volunteers on Sunday.

The Longhorns had four players score in double digits, including senior forward Nneka Enemkpali, who scored 17 points for Texas. Freshman guard Ariel Atkins scored 12 and sophomore guard Brianna Taylor followed with 11.  

For Enemkpali, there was only one more chance to break the losing streak against Tennessee.  

“It feels amazing,” Enemkpali said. “We have to stay humble and remember this is just the beginning.”

Texas led 30-20 at halftime. Sophomore center Kelsey Lang scored an impressive 18 points and Texas continued its blazing start with a 72-59 win.

“I have gained so much confidence because they have confidence in me,” Lang said. “I couldn’t do what I do without my teammates giving me the kinds of passes that they have been giving me.” 

Texas claimed its second consecutive Phillips 66 Big 12 honor this week when Lang was named Phillips 66 Big 12 Player of the Week, one week after Enemkpali was given the same title.

Head coach Karen Aston believes her players’ efforts are paying off, allowing a special era of basketball to unfold at Texas this season.

Texas has beaten two top-10 teams, including Stanford, in just five games this season.

Texas moved up two spots to No. 4 in the Associated Press Top 25 on Monday. It is the Longhorns’ highest ranking in both polls since December 2008 (No. 4/4) after starting the season 11-0.

An injury report confirms junior center Imani McGee-Stafford is not cleared to participate Wednesday because of a leg injury. 

Texas will put its win streak on the line against the 1-5 Lobos.

Senior forward Nneka Enemkpali scored 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting against Tennessee on Sunday. Enemkpali sunk 13 of her points during the second half of Texas’ 72-59 win.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Outscoring its opponent 38-26 in the paint under the leadership of sophomore center Kelsey Lang’s 18 points and six rebounds, the women’s basketball team defeated the fourth-ranked Tennessee Lady Volunteers, 72-59.

Despite this matchup being the 33rd consecutive season the teams played one another, Sunday’s victory is the first time since 2008 the Longhorns defeated the Lady Volunteers.

Texas head coach Karen Aston said she didn’t know whether the team would win but knew they had prepared well.

“I thought this was a really tremendous effort from our basketball team,” Aston said. “I think our inside game was terrific today. They battled really hard … and did the things it takes to be a presence in the paint.”

The Longhorns grabbed the lead early in the first half and extended as high as a 12-point margin.

In the second half, sophomore guard Brianna Taylor and senior forward Nneka Enemkpali continued their scoring streaks. Enemkpali went 7-of-10 from the field to score 13 of her 17 points in the second half. Taylor did not miss a shot the entire game, totaling 10 points and five rebounds.

“I come off the bench and give us energy, rebound, defend and help [Enemkpali] out down there in the paint,” Taylor said. “[I’m] just coming in, being solid and getting stops on defense, so I’m learning.”

Within 10 days, the Longhorns (5-0) won two games against top-5 opponents. Aston said the wins influence the players’ mind-set significantly.

“We have players that have never been in these situations before or players that are older that have not had these significant wins before, so I think from a confidence perspective, it is unbelievable,” Aston said. “Now we have a long way to go.”

This season, Lang has scored double digits in every game. She said that after the team found out about junior center Imani McGee-Stafford’s injury, she changed her mentality to become an offensive threat.

“My teammates and coaches have helped me so much with that,” Lang said. “I have gained so much confidence because they have confidence in me.”

Freshman guard Ariel Atkins ended the game with 12 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Enemkpali said she overheard Atkins talking about how fun the season has been so far, but Enemkpali said the veterans must remind teammates that the season is far from over.  

“If you want it to continue to be fun, then we have to work as hard as we’re working to continue to have fun,” Enemkpali said.

The Longhorns will continue their six-game home stint against New Mexico on Wednesday at 7 p.m.

When sophomore guard Brady Sanders subbed in with 2:31 left Thursday night, the Longhorns were down 21 points to Syracuse. Sanders didn’t let it faze her, though, draining a trifecta of 3-pointers and a free throw to bring her team within 10.

The Longhorns still fell to the Orange but used the near comeback as motivation to beat No. 11 Texas A&M and Memphis before leaving the Virgin Islands.

“I think some players didn’t have much of a sense of urgency today,” head coach Karen Aston said.    

Texas allowed four Syracuse players to reach double-figures as a five-point halftime deficit grew. A season-high 23 turnovers were the main culprit — the Orange notched 24 points off turnovers alone.

Texas regrouped before Friday, as it trumped the Aggies 69-58. Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali led the Longhorns with 20 points and 11 rebounds in her second double-double this season. Freshman center Kelsey Lang chipped in with 10 points during her first start.

“We did an excellent job coming off a loss from last night and not dwelling on it,” Sanders said. “Everyone really understood what this rivalry means even though we’re not in the same conference.”

Sanders performed well in each of the weekend games, connecting on another three three-pointers against A&M and two against Memphis on Saturday in the Longhorns’ 65-36 win. She finished the weekend 9-for-16 behind the arc, paired with what Aston described as “terrific defense” in which the Longhorns followed the game plan and were “extremely focused on responding to scouting reports.” 

Lang hit another career-high 12 points with perfect second-half shooting. While Lang said her teammates’ support was key in calming her nerves, Aston said Lang brings a new dimension to her teammates as well.

“Lang has opened up some room for Nneka because she has the ability to space the floor a little bit differently than our other post players do,” Aston said. “She has a good feel in the post and she’s a smart player.”

Texas faces Arkansas-Little Rock on Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center.