Texas overpowered a slow defense Wednesday night to smother Texas Tech, 88-51. The Longhorns held a 48-4 scoring advantage in the paint to prove head coach Karen Aston that they are, in fact, “a lot better at home.”
“You can really tell the difference in our team’s personality and their comfort at home,” Aston said. “The crowds are growing and becoming a bigger part of it, but there’s no question that it’s made a difference for our team this year.”
Texas started off slow, allowing the Red Raiders (6-16, 0-11 Big 12) to score first off a foul shot by sophomore guard Brady Sanders. The teams exchanged leads three times in the first five minutes before the Texas offense took off on a 28-3 run. Texas scored 22 points in the paint, while shutting out Texas Tech’s interior presence but didn’t limit itself to inside shooting. Texas shot 75 percent from the free throw line and hit 46.7 percent of its shots from behind the arc.
“They’re getting more comfortable,” Aston said. “We’ve slowed down a bit but I thought we’d slowed down too much. I started calling a few more plays, trying to get back to our transition game.”
Texas’ comfort and big lead made it possible for 11 players to enter the game in the first half, 10 of whom scored and five of whom hit threes. Sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford’s perfect five shot attempts highlighted the half as she towered above defenders. Texas finished the half up 51-22.
“Everyone was shooting around and feeling good before the game,” sophomore guard Empress Davenport said. “It had to do a lot with our focus.”
The Longhorns (15-7, 6-4 Big 12) continued to stretch their lead through the second half, as Davenport, Sanders and McGee-Stafford cruised to double figures in scoring. After struggling with just two points in 14 minutes against Baylor on Saturday, Davenport connected on 7 of 9 from the field to finish with 15 points. Though she said she “didn’t get as many rebounds as [she] needed to,” Aston thought Davenport’s comeback was crucial.
“It was really important she had a good game,” Aston said. “It’s a maturity game. She played a very solid game, was focused and kept her emotions in check.”
Texas showed why it leads the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage. The Longhorns also improved their conference best field goal percentage defense as they restricted the Red Raiders to a mere 26 percent shooting.
“We focus every day on getting better offensively,” Aston said. “I think it’s evident that every day we are getting better, more comfortable with the system and with each other.”