After last Friday’s season opener, Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors made her needs clear. She needed her bench players to come in with the same focus and intensity as if they were starting. One thing was clear after the Longhorn’s 112-53 defeat of Northwestern State Tuesday night: The bench took heed of Goestenkors’ advice.
“I think they did a better job,” Goestenkors said. “It’s still not where we want it to be. Chelsea [Bass] came in very focused and ready to play, we’ve got to get everyone playing like that.”
Inexperience proved to be a one-time hindrance for the squad’s fresh faces, as the reserves combined for 30 points on Tuesday.
Bass was a standout coming off the bench for the Longhorns. The freshman guard scored 18 points and grabbed six rebounds and was one of three players to have points in the double digits at half time.
“The freshmen give us some great versatility,” Goestenkors said. “Chelsea did a real great job tonight, and Anne Marie [Hartung] has already had some great games as well. They come in with a lot of confidence and energy.”
Sarah Lancaster and Hartung also came out strong off the bench, combining for 10 points and 11 rebounds.
“[The coaches] want us to push the tempo more than anything,” said guard Chassidy Fussell. “Just get it up the court and if you don’t have the shot, find an open player. I think we did a great job of that tonight.”
True to form, the four veteran players laid the foundation for victory against the Demons.
Ashleigh Fontenette was in the zone all night as she shot 8-of-13 from the floor. Just five minutes into the first half, the junior had scored 10 points and racked up two assists, two rebounds and a steal. She went on to score a game-high 23 points.
The only freshman in the starting lineup, Fussell came out strong for the Longhorns, as she recorded her second-straight double-digit scoring effort of the season with a career-high 21 points.
“When you have leaders like we do, they pull me along with them and they drive us. It carries over into the game.”
But once again, turnovers continued to plague the Longhorns and they finished with 21. It was an improvement over the 24 turnovers they amassed against Mississippi Valley State last Friday but Goestenkors is confident there’s room to grow.
The 112 points Texas posted were the most since Dec. 16, 2000, when the Longhorns scored 135 against Centenary College.
“I want to score 100 points every game. That’s the mindset I want to go in with,” Goestenkors said. “If it doesn’t happen it doesn’t, but that’s the way we should go in to every single game we play. I think we are developing that mindset and identity.”