With a 1:13 remaining in the first quarter of the Big 12 Route 66 quarterfinals, Kansas took its first lead. Twenty-one seconds later, senior guard Celina Rodrigo knocked down a 3-pointer, giving Texas an 11-9 lead.
No. 6 Texas never trailed again, as it coasted to a 66-50 win over the Jayhawks in Oklahoma City.
Turnovers early on made it difficult for either team to score. The Longhorns had 21, including six in the first quarter alone. In the second quarter, they cut that number in half and held a 30-22 lead at halftime.
While the Longhorns struggled to take care of the ball, they made up for it beyond the arc. Texas shot 7-of-17 from downtown, while holding Kansas to just 21.4 percent on 3-point shooting.
Time and time again, the Longhorns made timely 3-pointers. When Texas saw its 14-point third quarter lead trimmed to eight, it didn’t panic. Instead, sophomore guard Brooke McCarty knocked down Texas’ fifth three-pointer of the night.
That three sparked a 9-0 run to open the fourth quarter. Kansas answered with a 7-0 run and eventually cut the lead to ten points with a little over four minutes remaining.
Then, in typical Rodrigo fashion, the seasoned guard answered with another 3-pointer — her fourth of the night.
“I’ve been working hard on it over the summer,” Rodrigo said on Jan. 25. “Just getting a feel for it and getting a lot of shots up.”
In addition to hot shooting from deep, the Longhorns shot 46 percent from the field. Rodrigo shot particularly well, leading all scorers with a season-high 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting beyond the arc and dishing out five assists.
Joining Rodrigo in double-digit scoring was sophomore guard Ariel Atkins, who added 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and two steals. McCarty also scored 10 points, while grabbing five rebounds and recording two assists.
Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge led Kansas with 12 points, while freshman guard Aisia Robertson added 10 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Texas was dominant on the defensive end. In addition to out-rebounding the Jayhawks 33-23, the Longhorns recorded nine steals and three blocks.
With the win, Texas advances to the semi-finals for the third-straight season and will face the winner of West Virginia vs. Kansas State at 4 p.m. on Sunday. Texas swept both WVU and Kansas State in conference play.