It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, and on Tuesday night in the Erwin Center it was a tale of two halves as Texas trailed for most of the opening period but came back to win 67-55 against Nebraska.
The game began with a number of offensive miscues. Texas put itself in a position to take the open jumpers they are usually so good at, but the Longhorns’ 27 first-half points to Nebraska’s 21 came painstakingly.
“We started out flat missing our jumpers,” said Texas coach Gail Goestenkors. “I thought we were going to come out with the attack mindset, so I was kind of surprised we started out so slowly.”
Senior forward Kristen Nash blamed Texas’ slow start on a lack of poise.
“In the first half I was missing a lot of passes and didn’t feel as though I had my confidence,” Nash said. “We pulled together at halftime and got things turned around.”
Turn things around they did. The Longhorns’ sub-par 36-percent shooting effort in the first period was countered with a 53-percent effort in the second and leading the way for the umpteenth time this season was potential freshman Player of the Year candidate Chassidy Fussell.
“I think that [Fussell] came in with the attitude that she wanted to contribute right away, and that is definitely what she is doing,” said junior guard Yvonne Anderson of Fussell’s play this year. “She is very consistent on the offensive floor.”
Fussell and Anderson both posted a team-high 17 points. Kristen Nash added eight points and a very important 10 rebounds.
Part of Texas’ second-half surge came at the heels of its up-tempo style of play it loves to utilize.
That second-half energy helped the Longhorns force turnover after turnover.
“Their defensive pressure was a real key,” said Nebraska coach Connie Yori. “You can’t turn it over 25 times against anybody. We were chasing them down the court ... You can’t guard somebody when you are chasing them.”
Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore led the Cornhuskers with 18 points, but also committed eight turnovers.
With the Longhorns getting the victory against the Cornhuskers in what was likely their final Big 12 match-up against each other, Texas gained some much needed momentum heading into a gauntlet stretch of games. Currently fifth in the conference, they will face three ranked opponents in their final five games, with rival Oklahoma waiting for them Saturday.
“In the second half we came out with a lot more energy and focus,” Goestenkors said. “That’s the way we need to play for 40 minutes heading into this road stretch.”