Rebounds, ball control crucial in win

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For Texas, rebounding consistently has been a struggle. But Saturday, the Longhorns (15-7, 4-4 Big 12) won the rebound battle against Kansas, doing so for the first time since their mid-January loss to Oklahoma.

“I am really happy with how we rebounded the ball,” said Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors after the win over Kansas. “We are still looking for that consistency, but I thought we did a nice job.”

Texas withstood the physicality of Saturday’s game, outrebounding the Jayhawks 44-33.

The team’s fourth consecutive win was an all-around team effort and another benchmark on the road to becoming a more dominant rebounding team.

“Coach [LaKale] Malone is in charge of rebounding for us, and I know she was frustrated after the last game — we only had eight rebounds and scored five points off of them,” Goestenkors said. “It was a point of interest for her when we broke down the last tape. I thought the players made a concerted effort to go to the offensive glass and score on those.”

On Saturday, each Texas player who made it onto the floor grabbed at least one board.

“This was a great team effort. I thought everybody contributed both on the boards or hitting a big shot,” Goestenkors said. “Everybody really got into the mix and made a big difference.”

Senior Kathleen Nash and freshman Chassidy Fussell led the way with seven rebounds each. Texas is 12-2 this season when outrebounding its opponent’ and in its 15 victories, the team is outrebounding opponents by an average margin of eight.

“Their effort was good,” said Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson. “If you look at it, it’s by committee. Their guards got really into us, and we just didn’t respond to how physical they were on the glass.”

The Longhorns’ persistent offensive game led to 17 offensive rebounds, and they finished with a 15-8 advantage in second-chance points over Kansas.

“We work on [rebounding] every day so we know to be successful. We need to rebound with or outrebound our opponent. Now we need to be consistent with it,” Goestenkors said. “We do it every now and again, but just not consistently, so we need to build on this.”

The Longhorns also cut down on their turnovers, another big improvement. Turnovers have plagued the team in its seven losses, but on Saturday, Texas accumulated just 14 to the Jayhawks’ 15.

But even with the weekend’s improvements, Goestenkors wants her team to remain consistent in its progress as Texas prepares for the second half of the Big 12 season.

“I just think it shows how much confidence we have in our game plan and how much confidence we have in each other,” said junior Yvonne Anderson. “We knew that if we tweaked a few things, we would be successful. Now we are at four and four, which is not as great as we want to be, but it’s a lot better than we could be.”

After starting its conference schedule 0-4, Texas has continued to improve and is now sixth in the Big 12 standings.
“Absolutely, we are starting from scratch,” Goestenkors said. “Now, it’s a new segment for us.”