The calendar turned to 2019 since the Longhorns last took the floor, but Karen Aston’s squad brought the same suspenseful finishes from its 2018 slate of games.
The Longhorns escaped with a 60-51 win over Oklahoma State on Wednesday night. However, the way in which the game unfolded down the stretch proved conference play has arrived and will be intriguing every night.
Texas led the Cowgirls, 52-32, with nearly eight minutes left in regulation. From that point on, the Longhorns didn’t make another field goal — missing 10 consecutive shots to end the game. The lack of offense allowed for Oklahoma State to climb back into the game with a 15-0 run of its own and make it a two possession game with just under two minutes to play.
“They started hitting shots, but we got lackadaisical defensively,” Aston said. “We’ve got to figure out how to string along defensive efforts.”
The Longhorns avoided a disastrous collapse by focusing on their defense, which had gotten them the lead in the first place. In the first quarter of the game, Texas held Oklahoma State to only four points, a season-low for the Cowgirls. For Texas, it was a matter of getting back to that and powering through its second-half shooting woes.
“I don’t think we panicked,” Aston said. “We kept it simple. I have no idea why we decided to try and be a home run team tonight.”
Guard Sug Sutton, who led the team in scoring with 14 points, agreed with her coach.
“We have to change our mentality,” Sutton said. “We get into the habit, when we get up by a lot, (thinking) we get to chill.”
Luckily, Texas was able to flip the switch on defense and pick up where its offense was lacking. Texas’ offense, which hasn’t been its calling card so far this season, struggled again Wednesday. As a team, the Longhorns shot a hair under 34 percent and 38 percent from three. However, the 3-point percentage was slightly raised by guard Danni Williams, who hit three of four shots from beyond the arc.
As Williams carried the load from outside, forward Olamide Aborowa — who got the start — was able to control the inside. Aborowa served as the anchor for Texas’ defense while bringing in five offensive rebounds on the other end.
“If we play team defense, it helps us more than being an individual,” Aborowa said. “It was really good in the first part of the game.”
Aborowa credited the team defense, but Sutton responded with praise for Aborowa.
“She’s one of the biggest leaders on the team,” Sutton said. “You can hear her on defense. She’s our energy player. Whenever we need it, she’s going to bring that energy.”
It was an interesting way to open up conference play. Texas survived a bad shooting night and a powerful fourth quarter rally. Nevertheless, the Longhorns got the win with the help of players like Aborowa and Sutton.
With the victory Texas goes to 1–0 in conference play and 11–2 overall. The Longhorns’ next game is Sunday at West Virginia.