Karen Aston has repeatedly said this year’s Texas squad is “going to need to find their identity more than once.”
The Longhorns have certainly been on a journey to find it early on in this season. Between a litany of injuries, Chastity Patterson’s transfer and the pleasant surprise of Audrey Warren, Texas’ identity has changed on a game-by-game basis.
Sunday was no exception. Texas put on one of its worst first-half performances of the season against Stetson, scoring just 27 points while shooting an abysmal 31 percent from the field, including a 1-of-16 showing from the 3-point line. The Longhorns also committed 12 turnovers before heading into the locker room.
“It’s hard to admit this, but I wouldn’t say that we’ve found our identity yet,” Aston said. “We’re not a great basketball team right now.”
Despite the lackluster offensive performance, some stingy Texas defense managed to give the Longhorns a 27-19 halftime lead.
If there was one bright spot in a sloppy first half, it was forward Joyner Holmes’ return to the starting lineup. Holmes, who suffered an undisclosed ankle injury prior to the start of the season, made her return to the court last week against Tennessee, but only logged 11 minutes of action.
Holmes quickly made her presence known in the first quarter, blocking a shot and finishing an alley-oop within the first five minutes of the game — one of only a handful of things Texas fans could cheer about.
“It feels better to be back out there,” said Holmes, who finished with six points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. “We’ve just got to get back in the gym and get to work.”
The second half fared only marginally better for the Longhorns as they eventually began to pull away thanks to an impressive 11-of-14 shooting display in the fourth quarter and emphatic rebounding, allowing Stetson to grab just seven rebounds over the final two periods.
However, despite a better second half on the scoreboard, turnovers told another tale, as Texas committed a season-high 26 turnovers for the game.
“I think you can look at it a couple of different ways. Everybody seems to find the negative, and I’m okay with that,” Aston said.
If there was one silver lining in Sunday’s outing, it was this: Four of Stetson’s eight losses have come by 10 or fewer points, including a 65-55 loss to Tennessee on Dec. 5, a game which the Hatters led by 16 at halftime in Knoxville.
Regardless of the opponent’s record and prior performances, point guard Sug Sutton was critical of Texas’ performance. When asked what grade she would give her team’s performance, she replied, “Probably a D, D-minus.”
Texas is back in action on Thursday, Dec. 20, at 7 p.m. against UT-Rio Grande Valley.