Horns tough it out for fourth conference win

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Freshman phenom Fussell notches another 20-point game

The referees’ whistles wouldn’t stop blowing.

But even in a game where the players seemingly spent more time shooting free throws or being pushed to the ground, the Longhorns (15-7, 4-4 Big 12) managed a tough 80-68 win over Kansas on Saturday at the Erwin Center.

“It was really physical, and [the Jayhawks] have a lot of big girls down low,” Texas guard Kathleen Nash said. “We just had to body up on them.”

A total of 37 fouls were called on both teams, with Kansas (15-8, 2-7) accounting for 23 of them.

“I thought this was a great team effort,” Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. “Kansas is an exceptional team and it was very helpful for us that they got in foul trouble.”

Neither side shot particularly well in the first half, in part because of the tenacious play of both teams and their stingy defenses. Both teams shot just around 35 percent from the field, but the Longhorns' three-point shooting and rebounding kept them flying higher than the Jayhawks in the opening period.

Kansas didn’t relent, though. It opened the second half with a series of easy buckets coupled with a pair of blown Texas lay-ups, cutting the Longhorns’ initial 11 point lead to just four with 10 minutes left to play.

The tide of the battle turned, perhaps symbolically, with a hustle play involving Texas' Kathleen Nash and Kansas' Monica Engleman. After a Texas miss, four of the Longhorns ran the length of the court to defend the trailing Jayhawks. Nash stayed behind, defended in the back court, and eventually tied the ball up with Engleman, ensuring Texas another possession. Kristen Nash converted a lay-up on the extra possession which set off a barrage of unanswered Texas points.

“It was tough,” Kansas forward Carolyn Davis said. “The Nash sisters are probably more physical than a lot of people think, and they sent a message. At times we didn’t match that, and when we did we got fouls.”

Davis finished with at team-high 18 points, but also accumulated four fouls, which greatly limited her playing time.

For the Longhorns, freshman Chassidy Fussell took full advantage of her second half-opportunities. She ended the game with 25 points, 13 of which came in the second period. It was her fifth game in a row with 20 or more points, and she is quickly becoming one of the conference’s most feared scorers. Kathleen Nash and Yvonne Anderson added 12 and 14 points, respectively.

The Longhorns also won the rebound battle 44-33 for the first time since playing Oklahoma on Jan. 16.

“I was very happy with the way we rebounded today,” Goestenkors said. “We are still looking for that [rebounding] consistency, but tonight we did a good job.”