By Blanche Schaefer
AMES, Iowa — The No. 6 Longhorns have come a long way from their 2-9 road record of last season. Texas maintained its perfect road record with a 65-49 win Saturday afternoon at Iowa State, improving to 21-1 on the season and 10-1 in the Big 12.
Sophomore guard Ariel Atkins continued her productive return from offseason ankle surgery with 22 points and 11 rebounds for the first double-double of her career. Atkins said her teammates’ encouragement helped spark her offensive performance.
“(Iowa State) played us in the zone,” Atkins said. “Coach (Karen Aston) always tells me to find the gaps and get a good look, so my teammates kept talking to me and telling me to get in the gaps.”
Both the Longhorn and Cyclone offenses got off to a slow start. Texas climbed to an early 8-2 lead, but Iowa State fought back to tie the game at 20-20 at halftime. Texas head coach Karen Aston said UT’s offense was off-balance and failed to execute in the first half.
“(Iowa State) threw some looks at us that made us a bit uncomfortable and made us rush in the first half,” Aston said. “We executed in the second half … we were a little unsettled in the first half.”
In the second half, the Longhorns more than doubled their first-half points with 23 in the third quarter and 22 in the fourth quarter. The Texas offense stagnated again in the third quarter as Iowa State led by as many as four points. UT closed the quarter with a 7-2 run capped by a three-pointer from senior guard Celina Rodrigo. Texas dominated the fourth quarter, allowing Iowa State to score only 10 points. UT continued to cut down on turnovers, committing just 14 and allowing just six points off turnovers.
“This was a really hard-fought win for our team,” Aston said. “Iowa State played well and had a game plan that worked the whole game until we sort of loosened up a little bit on the offensive end late in the third quarter.”
Texas returns home for a matchup with Oklahoma State on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Frank Erwin Center. UT only has seven regular-season games left to play, and Aston says the Longhorns need to buckle down and play with urgency throughout the rest of the season.
“Our team has got to find a sense of urgency again – I’m not sure we’re playing with that right now,” Aston said. “Hopefully this was helpful to be on the ropes and have to dig a little bit.”