Longhorns rack up boards, earn second conference win

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The Longhorns ventured into hostile Red Raider territory Wednesday night and handed Texas Tech its first home loss of the season, 75-67, thanks to a strong rebounding effort.

“It’s all we worked on,” said Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors. “We take great pride in our rebounding. They’re an excellent team. They haven’t lost at home, but I am proud of the way we withstood their runs.”

Withstand the Longhorns did, as they outrebounded Tech 43-26. The Red Raiders are currently second in the Big 12 in rebounding margin.

Dominating the backboards on Wednesday was crucial for Texas (13-7, 2-4 Big 12), a team that was outrebounded 52-31 in its win over Oklahoma State.

There was no question that the two sides were equal opponents, as it became a game of runs and
lead changes.

The Longhorns opened the game strong with a 5-0 run, but a pair of steals for the Lady Raiders led to their own 9-0 run seven minutes in.

For the second game in a row, Ashley Gayle dominated on defense for Texas, finishing with six blocks. The junior forward now has 250 blocks in her career at Texas, tying for second most all-time. Gayle is only 39 blocks short of tying the all-time record held by former Longhorn Ellen Bayer.

“The emphasis tonight was on rebounding,” said senior Kristen Nash. “We focused on boxing out our people and rebounding the ball, and I think that showed tonight.”

Scoring runs continued to define the first and second halves. Tech went on an 8-0 run to finish out the first half of the game, while the Longhorns went on a 6-0 run in the middle of the second half.

The Longhorns were steered yet again by freshman Chassidy Fussell who led Texas scorers with 22 points. She made six of 13 field goals to go along with eight rebounds, two assists, two blocked shots and a steal.

With less than a minute to play, Fussell hit a tough three-pointer from the top of the key with the shot clock running out. She immediately followed it up with a crucial defensive stop, driving another nail in the Raiders’ coffin.

For a squad that before last Sunday was winless in conference play, the back-to-back wins seemed to boost Texas’ confidence.

“I think we’ve gained a lot of confidence [tonight],” Nash said. “We aren’t looking too far forward, just at our next game, and that’s our focus.”

The squad that prepared all week by working on rebounding started the contest on the glass and ended it there in one of their most dominant performances on the boards all season.

“Hopefully they understand how important rebounding really is,” Goestenkors said. “Because that was the difference.”