Lashann Higgs

Photo Credit: Anthony Mireles | Daily Texan Staff

Lashann Higgs had one less thing to worry about.

In No. 8 Texas’ past two games against No. 2 Baylor, Higgs was assigned to Baylor senior guard Kristy Wallace on defense. It didn’t go well for Higgs.

Wallace used her turbocharged first step to blitz past the Longhorns’ defensive stopper nearly every other possession. Wallace put up 27 and 23 points, respectively, en route to a pair of Baylor victories.

“The two previous games that we’ve played, particularly the first one against Baylor, I thought we were not as competitive as we needed to be,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said.

But on Monday night in Oklahoma City, Wallace didn’t step on the floor in Texas’ 77-69 loss to the Bears in the Big 12 championship game. Wallace suffered a torn ACL in her right knee on Baylor’s senior night against West Virginia on Feb. 26 and was ruled out for the season.

With Wallace out, Higgs had less responsibility for Texas on the defensive end. She turned her attention to the opposite end of the floor. 

Higgs had a penchant to score in threes. She kicked her evening off by draining a 3-pointer from the left corner. She followed it up by splitting a pair of Baylor defenders, drawing a foul from Baylor sophomore guard Juicy Landrum, scooping in a layup and converting the and-one free throw. 

By the end of the first quarter, Higgs had 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting.

Her offensive punch bookended multiple runs for Texas. The Longhorns hit a rough patch,  making just 1-of-8 shots. Higgs zipped to the hoop late in the shot clock and rose for a layup, but she was met by Baylor junior center Kalani Brown.

The ball rimmed out, but Higgs secured the offensive rebound and went straight back up. She drew a foul and hit a pair of free throws to cut the Bears’ lead to three points.

Later in the fourth, Higgs swiped the ball from Landrum at half court and sprinted to the basket. Landrum recovered just in time to swat the ball away on the fast break. Higgs kept her cool. She recovered the offensive board and found senior guard Brooke McCarty on the right side of the lane for the easy finish. 

Higgs’ assist was part of a 9-0 run for Texas that tied the game up at 55 points apiece with 7:13 remaining. Everything unraveled from there.

The Bears eventually took back the lead. Higgs drove down the baseline again with 1:42 left on the clock and the Longhorns down two. She floated the ball a step outside the lane, wary of Baylor sophomore forward Lauren Cox, who had seven blocks.

The ball ricocheted off the rim and into Cox’s hands. Sophomore forward Joyner Holmes tried swiping it back but was called for a loose ball foul, sending Baylor into the bonus. The call unnerved Aston. She let the officials know it and picked up a technical foul.

Cox hit all four of the ensuing free throws.

“I had a poorly, poorly, poorly timed technical that I take full responsibility for,” Aston said. “Definitely my fault on that one.”

“We still felt like we had a chance (to win),” senior guard Ariel Atkins said.

They didn’t. Though Texas fought hard until the end, Baylor closed the game out and won its eighth Big 12 championship in nine years. Higgs finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and three assists in a game that saw 14 lead changes.

Despite the loss, the Longhorns still believe they’re talented enough to beat any team in the country. The next loss will be the last in the NCAA Tournament.

“I mean, this loss is disappointing,” McCarty said. “But, we have a bigger picture to look forward to.”

The Longhorns (26–6, 15–3 Big 12) will find out their seeding and first opponent during the NCAA Selection Show on March 12 at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Lashann Higgs couldn’t quite perfect her form.

Prior to No. 6 Texas’ 72-59 victory over Iowa State on Saturday, the junior guard had made just one 3-pointer in February. Her 14-point performance in an 87-55 home win over Iowa State on Jan. 27 was the last time she had scored double digits in a game.

Unsure of what was going wrong, she sought help from her coaches.

“Lashann is just one of our players that looks for help or instruction and constructive criticism to get better,” Texas associate head coach Tina Thompson said. “Especially at this time during the year, or because we have time limits, you can’t make them get in the gym. It has to be something that they want to do.”

Higgs was shooting around with Thompson before a practice on Feb. 9 at Denton A. Cooley Pavilion. Thompson wanted Higgs to catch the ball, dip and elevate for her shot in a single, fluid motion.

Higgs was a bit jerky — she kept raising her arms a split second after extending her legs during the jump. The delay threw her shot off.

“Just go down and up,” Thompson said, before passing the ball back to Higgs. “Down and up.”

Higgs has been dealing with ups and downs all season. She shot just 21.7 percent from deep during her sophomore season but has improved to 33.3 percent this year. She’s made three times as many treys.

The downs have been more common this month, though, especially on the offensive end. Before Saturday’s game, Higgs had made just one of her last seven shots from outside.

With two games left in the season, Higgs knew she didn’t have much time to figure things out. She finally turned things around in Ames, Iowa.

Late in the first quarter, junior center Jatarie White caught the ball in the middle of the floor and squared up with the basket. She noticed Higgs’ defender sagging off to help and kicked the ball to Higgs in the left corner. Higgs dipped, elevated and nailed the triple in a single, fluid motion.

She sank another with 6:16 remaining in the fourth quarter. Sophomore guard Alecia Sutton used an in-and-out crossover to get past her man and penetrate into the paint. Higgs’ defender sagged off again, and Sutton found her open on the right wing. Higgs knocked down the three, bringing her point total up to 12 and ending a seven-game single-digit point streak.

“The way (Higgs) scores is kind of, probably, different than any player in the country,” Thompson said. “She’s able to just use her genetic ability to kind of create things or make things happen that are pretty abnormal for most of us.”

Higgs finished Saturday’s game with 14 points, four rebounds, five assists and one steal. Texas (23–5, 14–3 Big 12) will need her to remain consistent on both ends of the floor as the team enters the postseason.

She’s also thrived as the team’s defensive stopper all year, averaging 1.6 steals per game.

“That’s the only way you can test yourself to see how good of a defender you really are,” Higgs said. “(I enjoy) guarding the best player.”

Senior guards Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty combined for 33 points and 15 rebounds against Iowa State, including a career-high 11 rebounds from McCarty. The pair look to close out their final season with a higher sense of urgency.

The Longhorns conclude their regular season against Oklahoma on Tuesday. Tipoff for senior night is set for 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

WACO, Texas — Three looks inside and zero points to show for it.

Late in the second quarter of No. 6 Texas’ 81-56 loss to No. 3 Baylor on Thursday night, sophomore guard Alecia Sutton received an inbound pass near the left block, a half-step in front of her defender. Another dribble would have given her a chance at a layup.

Instead, Sutton just glanced inside and dribbled back near the top of the key to reset the offense. She noticed junior forward Olamide Aborowa wide open on the opposite side of the lane and lobbed a pass.

Aborowa mishandled the catch. She pump-faked once, then pitched it to Jada Underwood in the middle of the floor. The sophomore wing hesitated, then tried for an up-and-under post move right before the shot clock ran out.

A thicket of long-limbed Bears loomed in the paint. The Longhorns couldn’t explode their way through it. They tried dancing around it instead, but never found the right rhythm. The ball rimmed out, completing a sequence that encapsulated Texas’ night.

“I didn’t think they played scared. I just didn’t think they matched Baylor’s passion,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “There’s been a couple of times this year when we haven’t done that. And this was by far our worst performance as far as simple things like competition.”

Baylor sophomore forward Lauren Cox collected the rebound and found freshman guard Alexis Morris on the outlet pass. Morris zoomed to the opposite end of the court and hit a mid-range jumper in transition, putting Baylor up 44-25 with 41 seconds left in the quarter.

Senior guard Brooke McCarty dripped in a buzzer-beating floater to end the half, but Texas was ultimately exiled to the perimeter. The Bears finished the game with seven blocks — including six from Cox alone — and out-rebounded the Longhorns, 50-34.

“I would say that their size and their length definitely makes it a little bit more difficult,” junior guard Lashann Higgs said. “But we’re just not competitive. They out-competed us. They were just tougher than us and were playing with a purpose.”

The Longhorns struggled just as much from outside. Texas launched plenty of open triples and jump shots, but the ball rarely found the bottom of the net. McCarty and fellow senior guard Ariel Atkins combined to shoot just 8-for-30 from the field and 3-for-10 from three for 27 points.

Atkins’ composure suffered. Once the game slipped away, she began setting the ball on the floor after every call against Texas rather than handing it to the referee. She committed seven of the team’s 16 turnovers.

“It is frustrating when you don’t show up,” Atkins said. “They out-worked us, had more energy, they played with passion. They were a team tonight and we weren’t.”

Baylor (18–1, 8–0 Big 12) was one of the toughest opponents Texas (15–4, 6–2 Big 12) has played all season. 

Still, Aston knew her team could have performed better.

“I was a little surprised — a lot surprised by the lack of composure and competitiveness,” Aston said. “It was just a little bit of an old-fashioned butt-kicking.”

The Longhorns can’t afford to dwell on the loss. The Big 12 doesn’t allow teams much time to rest between games, and Texas is no exception.

“You’ve just got to go on to the next thing and just get back into the gym,” Higgs said. “Baylor wanted it more, so we can’t dwell on it.”

Texas hosts Iowa State at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We have to turn the page really quickly,” Aston said. “(Friday) will be more of a mental day. It’s not one of those times where you can go in there and run them to death or try to fix a competitive thing. They know — they’re competitive players. They know that they didn’t show up tonight. We have to turn the page and get ready for Iowa State.”

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Make no mistake — Texas is just fine.

The No. 9 Longhorns entered Saturday’s road game against Texas Tech as losers of two of their last three games, pushing them to the edge of the nation’s top 10 for the first time all season. 

But with questions looming over the team, Texas delivered an all-caps response, dismantling the Red Raiders in a 90-39 victory.

The Longhorns made a commitment to winning through their defense in the opening quarter, employing a full-court press that resulted in eight forced turnovers.

Senior guard Ariel Atkins, meanwhile, did it all on the offensive end in the first quarter, lighting up Texas Tech for eight points on 4-5 shooting and crashing the glass for two offensive boards. The Red Raiders managed to keep it close, ending the quarter with a pair of buckets to only trail 19-13.

After feeling out Texas Tech, the Longhorns began landing haymakers in the second quarter.

The first one came in the form of a 7-0 run to start the quarter that left the Red Raiders reeling. The second was a dizzying 14-3 burst to go up 40-16 with 2:51 left in the half.

Senior guard Brooke McCarty led the ambush, finishing the half with 12 points and six assists as Texas headed into the locker room with a commanding 44-19 lead.

The Longhorns didn’t lose focus in the second half, keeping Texas Tech scoreless for the first four minutes and 25 seconds.

Junior guard Lashann Higgs found her touch as well, outscoring the Red Raiders in the third quarter on her own, 11-10. Texas also took advantage from the charity stripe, going 11-of-15 from the free throw line during the quarter to take a 73-29 lead into the final 10 minutes of regulation, where the Longhorns put the game on ice.

Atkins shined in the blowout with a game-high 22 points to go along with seven rebounds. Higgs kept pace, posting 19 points and five rebounds. Texas forced the Red Raiders into a whopping 29 turnovers on the day.

The Longhorns (15–3, 6–1 Big 12) took away the Red Raiders’ identity, out-rebounding a Texas Tech team that prides itself on winning the battle on the boards, 31-18. Texas Tech’s 39 points also marked the second-lowest total allowed by the Longhorns this season. Texas defeated McNeese State, 100-34, on Nov. 15.

Texas will need to maintain that level of defensive intensity when it heads to Waco on Thursday for a showdown against No. 4 Baylor at 6 p.m.

Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

In front of a crowd of over 11,000, the Huskies got hit in the mouth.

Early in the first quarter of No. 9 Texas’ 75-71 loss to No. 1 UConn on Monday night, junior wing Katie Lou Samuelson got smacked in the face with an elbow. The Huskies’ leading scorer buried her face in her hands and gingerly walked to the other side of the court at Frank Erwin Center.

The Longhorns were up 12-7 with 5:57 remaining. With Samuelson off the floor, Texas began to stifle the UConn offense and dropped bombs from distance. A midrange jumper from sophomore guard Alecia Sutton capped off a 10-5 run.

“I definitely thought we would show up because our preparation was good,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I thought they looked like a team that wanted to play differently than maybe they have been playing for a week or so.”

But UConn and Samuelson recovered. Samuelson returned to the floor at the 2:37 mark and closed out the quarter by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater over junior guard Lashann Higgs that shrunk the Longhorns’ lead to 24-21.

The deep ball stopped falling for Texas in the second quarter. After hitting 4-of-8 treys in the first, the Longhorns didn’t drain another triple until the fourth quarter. UConn rode the moment. The Huskies took the lead a handful of possessions later and clung to a 39-38 lead heading into halftime.

Once the outside shot was no longer an option, Texas shifted its point of attack to the paint.

“They were having so much success just putting it on the floor and going to the basket,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think they said, ‘We can get three the old-fashioned way.’ You know, get a layup and get fouled.”

On the team’s first possession of the third quarter, Higgs drove down the right baseline, drew a double team and found junior center Jatarie White at the elbow for an open jump shot.

White scored another six points in the quarter on post moves and putbacks that kept the Longhorns in the game.

The lead changed seven times in the third quarter, but Texas trailed 61-55 heading into the fourth.

Higgs ended the Longhorns’ cold streak from deep off an assist from senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, cutting the lead in half. The Huskies missed their next shot, and senior guard Brooke McCarty scooped in a layup with just a second left on the shot clock to bring Texas within one.

UConn was called for an offensive foul at the other end. Then Higgs attacked the right block again, this time coming off a screen from senior guard Ariel Atkins. The Longhorns were finally leading, 62-61, with just 7:59 left in the game.

But they couldn’t hold it. UConn senior guard Gabby Williams hit a jumper on the next play, and Texas trailed the rest of the game.

Down 73-70 with 24.7 seconds remaining, the Longhorns fouled three consecutive times to push the Huskies into the bonus and send Samuelson to the free throw line. UConn had been a perfect 15-of-15 from the stripe all night. But Samuelson missed the first, and then the second.

Texas called timeout and Caron-Goudreau was fouled on the next play, giving the Longhorns an opportunity to cut the lead to one. She missed the first, but made the second. Texas immediately fouled UConn sophomore guard Crystal Dangerfield, who hit both of her free throws.

A last-ditch three from Sutton fell short as time expired. The Huskies had claimed victory.

White finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds. Atkins, Higgs and McCarty combined for 41 points. Though they didn’t come away with the win, the Longhorns were still pleased with the progress they showed.

“We proved that we don’t need to take days off,” White said. “I think that as a team, we know where we are right now and where we could be. And everyday in practice, we need to have that same energy.”

Texas (14–3, 5–1 Big 12) will travel to Lubbock on Saturday to take on Texas Tech.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

When junior guard Lashann Higgs went to the bench with 3:41 left in the first quarter, she took all of Texas’ offense with her.

Early in their 75-64 win over Kansas State at the Bramlage Coliseum on Sunday, the No. 8 Longhorns struggled against the Wildcats’ zone defense. Their threes weren’t falling, they couldn’t find a good look inside and there weren’t many chances in transition.

Texas started the game missing its first seven shots from the field, turning the ball over three times during that stretch. Higgs finally broke the lid on the basket, hitting a midrange jumper with 5:26 on the clock.

Head coach Karen Aston needed Higgs to keep up her hot start for the rest of the game and subbed in sophomore guard Alecia Sutton to give Higgs a breather. At the time, the Longhorns trailed 11-6. Higgs had all six of Texas’ points. She entered back into the game just before the end of the first quarter with the Longhorns still down, 15-12.

The second quarter was more of the same from Texas. Junior transfer center Jatarie White and sophomore forward Joyner Holmes both got into foul trouble, picking up two each by the 8:44 mark. Senior guard Brooke McCarty drained a three off an assist from Higgs at 7:14 to cut Kansas State’s lead to two points, but wouldn’t score again until the fourth quarter.

Halfway through the second, Higgs had had enough. She picked off a pass from Wildcat sophomore forward Peyton Williams and cashed in an easy layup on the fast break. Kansas State scored on the next play and Higgs returned the favor by splashing a trey, tying the game, 22-22.

The Longhorns turned the ball over on their next two possessions and Wildcat freshman guard Kayla Goth made a layup to push Kansas State in front. Texas missed its next shot, but senior wing Ariel Atkins stole the ball back and found Higgs in transition to tie the game again.

The Wildcats missed a three on the next play, and McCarty zoomed to the other end and drove into the paint. McCarty’s layup rimmed out, but senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau grabbed the offensive board and found Higgs open on the right wing. Higgs swished the triple to give the Longhorns their first lead of the game, 27-24.

In the second half, Texas cracked the code on Kansas State’s zone. The Longhorns started the third quarter on a 13-4 run fueled by Atkins and White. The Wildcats called timeout with 6:17 remaining and Texas up 47-30. The Longhorns never let the lead dip back below double digits.

Higgs finished the game 26 points, including 16 in the first half. She showed the same prowess on the defensive end, racking up three steals and guarding Goth for most of the game.

Goth leads her team in points, averaging 16.7 per game, and leads the Big 12 with 6.3 assists per game. She finished the day with 17 points and five assists, but also committed two turnovers and shot just 6-of-18 from the floor.

Atkins, White and Caron-Goudreau combined for 31 points, and Caron-Goudreau also earned her first career double-double with 10 rebounds.

The victory puts Texas at 13-1 on the season and 4-0 in the Big 12. The Longhorns face TCU on Wednesday in Fort Worth with tip-off set for 8 p.m.