For Destiny Littleton, Sunday’s game exposed her to both ends of the emotional spectrum. In the first half, she nearly couldn’t miss. In the second half, she couldn’t buy a basket.
Her collapse mirrored the Longhorns’ as they were outscored by 10 in the fourth quarter and eventually lost, 69-60, in Texas’ second loss to Kansas State this season.
The first half was Littleton’s time to shine. Players on both teams couldn’t find a rhythm except for Littleton. She started the game 3-for-3 from beyond the 3-point line. At halftime, she had 15 of Texas’ 26 points.
Littleton, who had only started eight games prior to Sunday, performed with poise and confidence that made it seem as if she was an everyday starter.
All throughout the game, Littleton made plays to get the Longhorns out of a funk.
One of the more important plays she made came in the third quarter. Texas was on a 5-0 run and finally getting separation. On the ensuing Kansas State possession, Littleton dove on the floor to save a loose ball, sparking a fast break that ended in a Danni Williams three. Williams’ shot increased the lead to double digits and was the first sign of freedom on the offensive end for the Longhorns.
The second half was a different story for Littleton, though.
“We’re in the second round of conference play and this is what happens,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “You get bogged down because everyone is going to play your tendencies.”
Just as her presence was felt in the first half, her lack of aggression and production was felt equally as much in the second quarter.
“I’m not that type of player,” Littleton said. “I try to look for my teammates and get them involved because at the end of the day, one cannot beat five.”
In the final 20 minutes of play, Littleton had one point, a missed free throw and two missed 3-point attempts.
“The game just kind of flowed that way,” Littleton said. “K-State punched us and we were trying to get back into our flow.”
Her second half resembled the first matchup with Kansas State, an 87-69 loss in Manhattan when Littleton had six points on 2-of-7 shooting. The small contribution proved to be detrimental to the Longhorns’ efforts back in January and again one month later at the Frank Erwin Center.
“We had a better awareness of her,” Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We went into halftime and said, ‘We need to cool No. 4 off.’ We were quicker to her at the arc and made her dribble it.”
Despite Littleton being a non-factor on the offensive end, she felt the defensive side of the floor is where Texas lost the game.
“We play more freely and not as tense,” Littleton said when asked about playing with the lead. “We did start to relax on the defensive end and we just can’t do that.”
Ultimately it came down to Littleton’s and the Longhorns’ inconsistencies on both sides of the floor which added another loss to their record — with five of those coming at home.