Even behind a 23-point effort from its leading scorer Chassidy Fussell, Texas was unable to defeat Kansas State Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center. The 64-55 loss drops the Longhorns to 3-6 in Big 12 play, while the Wildcats rise to 6-3 in conference.
Once again, Fussell paved the way in scoring for the Longhorns but didn’t receive much help from her teammates. Senior guard Ashleigh Fontenette scored 17 points, but the next highest scoring Longhorn, freshman Nneka Enemkpali had just seven points.
Cokie Reed and Ashley Gayle, two starters at post, had just a single point between them. Reed’s playing time was limited after coming up late as a result of being tripped up in the second half and only logged 16 minutes on the court. The pair usually leads the Longhorns in rebounding but they only grabbed seven combined rebounds.
“You need to have good guard play in this league,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “But you have to have a post presence to be successful.”
The Wildcats opened the game with five steals in the first eight minutes of the game, which really set the tone for the team on defense. For the game, the Wildcats recorded 13 steals and forced 21 Longhorn turnovers.
“Our entire team did a great job on defense,” said Wildcats head coach Deb Patterson. “It took a lot of poise and a lot of toughness to finish this one off. Both teams competed with a great deal of heart.”
Texas led by as many as eight points in the second half, but their sloppy play let Kansas State right back in the game. The Longhorns were buoyed by excellent shooting from beyond the three point arc in the first half, but once those shots weren’t falling, the Longhorns began to struggle. The Wildcats recognized this and responded with stifling defense and focused on stopping the Longhorns from getting to the basket.
“We love to come back and fight,” said Wildcats’ senior post Jalana Childs. “We thrive off of that.”
The Wildcats were led in scoring by Brittany Chambers with 17 points and Childs with 16. Childs was key to the Wildcats’ offense down the stretch, converting two buckets late to put the Longhorns away for good.
“When we needed a couple of baskets [Jalana Childs] stepped up so big,” said Patterson.
Although the Longhorns held a 39-33 advantage in rebounding, they were unable to convert those boards into second chance points. The Wildcats, however, did a good job feeding the ball down low after Childs started to heat up. As a team, the Wildcats scored 32 points in the paint compared to the 14 points Texas had.
On a night where the Big 12’s top two teams, Baylor and Texas A&M, notched convincing wins, Texas faltered. The Longhorns will now travel to Ames, Iowa to take on the Cyclones in another important league game this Saturday.
“This team has always responded through adversity,” said Goestenkors. “I expect us to play very physically and bounce back and to show the determination that is expected of a University of Texas women’s basketball player.”