Freshman Chassidy Fussell led all Texas scorers with 21 points to help give the Longhorn women basketball squad a 63-56 win over Oklahoma State in front of a raucous Frank Erwin Center crowd.
The victory was important for Texas, as it was their first conference win of the season.
It took a few minutes to get their engine revved, but the Longhorns discovered that the little things can culminate into a big-time performances.
“I thought our defense, especially in the first half, was exceptional,” said Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors. “It’s definitely something to build on.”
The Cowgirls opened the game with four quick points, but a 10-2 Longhorn run quickly erased what was a sloppy start to the game.
The scoring spark came after senior Kathleen Nash robbed a lob pass from the Cowgirls and drove the length of the floor for an easy lay-up. From then on out all of the Longhorns channeled their inner cornerback, intercepting the ball left and right, allowing them to net 31 points off turnovers.
“I think there’s no question that [turnovers] was the difference in the game,” said Oklahoma State head coach Kurt Budke. “You don’t have to look any further than that.”
Texas carried a double digit lead from the early first half until the 16 minute mark of the second half when Oklahoma State clawed it’s way back into the game, cutting the Longhorns' lead to six.
The Cowgirls kept themselves close by winning the rebound battle with 52 rebounds compared to Texas’ 31.
“When they were coming back, I was just thinking that we don’t want to let this happen again,” Kathleen Nash said. “We just focused on taking care of the ball and not having those turnovers and building on the lead.”
In desperate need of another spark, the Longhorns turned to what had carried them all night — defense. Ashley Gayle electrified the Frank Erwin Center with a block and gaze into the crowd that would have made Dikembe Mutombo happy, and Kathleen Nash converted the block into points on the other end of the floor.
But yet again, the Cowgirls gashed the Longhorn lead to four with 50 seconds remaining. Free throws from Chassidy Fussell and another earthquake-inducing block from Ashley Gayle eventually put the final nail in the coffin.
“It was an energy play,” junior Yvonne Anderson said of the Gayle’s block.
Gayle’s individual defensive performance was another important ingredient in Texas’ winning recipe. Gayle, who came off the bench for the first time this season, had six blocks, giving her 81 on the season. She is now just six blocks away from tying for second place all-time at Texas.
Though the Longhorns are pleased to get a victory, none of the players and coaches are calling this victory a landmark win. In fact, many of them felt that they could have played better.
“It feels good to get a win, but at the same time, we want to be better,” Anderson said.