It wasn’t pretty. Some might have even called it ugly, but the Longhorns left the Frank Erwin Center with their first victory of the season on Monday night.
Despite missing 10 layups, turning the ball over 21 times and nearly blowing a 15-point lead down the stretch, Texas was able to beat the visiting Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions, 73-65.
“It was very difficult to see that many turnovers,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “It’s hard to watch. They weren’t forced turnovers. They were a very scrappy team but a lot of our turnovers were just mental errors, lack of focus.”
Senior guards Ashleigh Fontenette and Yvonne Anderson combined to score 37 points while shooting 15-of-23 from the field, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc. Anderson, who logged a team-high 39 minutes, added six assists and forced three turnovers on the defensive end.
“Minutes don’t really bother me,” Anderson said. “Anyone will tell you that I’m not really a fan of coming out so it wasn’t a huge deal for me. I’m definitely trying to lead this team.”
Forward Ashley Gayle, also a senior, had a big impact, despite being held without a field goal. One of the best shot blockers in the country, Gayle had five on Monday night, moving her into a tie for the school record for career blocks with 289.
“Ashley’s one of our best defensive players, a great shot blocker obviously, and she had a huge block down the stretch as well. So we definitely want her in on defense.”
Gayle’s block came with under three minutes left in the game and stopped a Lady Lions offense that had scored 12 points on its previous four possessions.
Despite being up by 15 points with just over six minutes to play, the Longhorns gave up 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions followed by a Southeastern Louisiana three-point play on an inside layup that brought them within six. On the following inbounds play, Anne Marie Hartung’s pass was intercepted and turned into another quick three by the Lady Lions, making it a three point game.
That was as close as they’d get. From there, the Longhorns were able to take control of the tempo and rotate Hartung and Gayle in and out of the game, with Hartung in on offense and Gayle coming on in defensive situations.
“We wanted Anne Marie in the game on offense because she’s a pretty good free throw shooter,” said Goestenkors. “Ashley Gayle is getting better but she’s not one of our best so we felt that if Ashley was in on offense, they were going to foul her.”
Freshman Cassie Peoples and sophomore Chelsea Bass were both medically cleared to play in the game, however, Goestenkors held them on the sidelines because they were unable to practice over the weekend.
“They should be back by Sunday’s game,” Goestenkors said. “They’ve got some days to get some practice in and I’m expecting them back.”
Printed on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 as: Longhorns squeak by SE Louisiana for first victory