With the blaring support of an energized crowd and junior forward Nneka Enemkpali’s leadership, the Longhorns beat Iowa State 71-64 on Sunday, pushing their home win streak to 10 games.
Throughout the tight game, head coach Karen Aston alternated pacing the sidelines and squatting by Texas’ bench. Each time she stepped on the court, Aston motioned with animation and frustration to her players.
“It was not one of our best games and definitely not, in the first half, one of our better efforts,” Aston said. “But I’m really proud of our resilience and our ability
to dig deep.”
Promotions, such as Medical Community Night and Teacher Appreciation Day, bolstered attendance, as did a significant cluster of red in the Iowa State section. Though the crowd didn’t fill the massive Frank Erwin Center, and the average age of attendees was well above the average Texas student’s age, the Longhorns still attributed their motivation to the crowd’s energy.
“I thought the crowd today was awesome,” sophomore guard Brady Sanders said. “I feel like they’re just getting better and better as conference goes on, and I think that goes along with winning. They got really loud there at the end, and I think that was a huge key factor to us keeping
the energy going.”
The Longhorns struggled out of the gate with sloppy play and uncoordinated offensive and defensive fronts. As Texas dug itself into a hole, the team feared it was too deep to climb out.
But a strategic time-out midway through the first period seemed to help Texas clean up its act as the Longhorns began making shots, including a nice 3-pointer from junior guard Krystle Henderson to shrink the Iowa State lead to five. Paired with the beginnings of a defensive effort, Texas caught up with Iowa State after trailing for more than 10 minutes. The Longhorns finally emerged from their lingering deficit with a Sanders 3-pointer to put them up by one with 2:55 left in the second half.
The 3-pointer brought the crowd to its feet — a position it maintained through the last four minutes of the game. The game came down to crucial free throws by sophomore guard Empress Davenport, Sanders and Enemkpali. Each of the ladies sunk their shots and secured the last possession of the game to grab a
tenuous Texas victory.
Texas will next take on Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan., on Wednesday.