AUSTIN, Texas — Texas forward Charli Collier scored a career-high 44 points and pulled down a game-high 16 rebounds Sunday to lead the Longhorns to a 106-69 rout of North Texas at the Frank Erwin Center.
"I'm really proud of our kids," Texas head coach Vic Schaefer said. "I'm proud of the way we attacked. They did not have an answer for Charli and I was going to go to her 'til Gabriel blew his horn."
He was not lying. Collier was dominant in the post throughout the game. By halftime, Collier already had accumulated 22 points and 11 rebounds, the 18th double-double of her career.
That was simply a preview of what was to come. Her 44 points were more than any Longhorn had scored in a single game since 1994 and the fourth-most in a single game in Texas women's hoops history, just six shy of the program record. Collier was a perfect 7-for-7 shooting in the second half and 14-of-17 for the game.
"I honestly didn't even know going into the game what I was going to do," Collier said. "I just knew I had to be on the court as much as possible, because last game I got two quick fouls early, so I knew for my team to dominate I had to be in the game. That was my mindset going in, to be confident and dominate in the paint."
Following the game, Schaefer said that he had "no idea" Collier was on pace to score the most points in a single game in program history when he sent her to the bench with about five minutes to go in the contest.
"It was really hard for them to defend her," Schaefer said of Collier. "She was four points shy of breaking the record but I didn't find that out until after I took her out. Maybe I'll find out a little earlier next time, but I'm really proud of Charli. She was really effective."
Her knack for getting to the free throw line — she hit 14 of 15 from the charity stripe — even prompted Schaefer to laugh toward the end of the third quarter. North Texas failed to come up with an answer for Collier, who repeatedly drove to the lane, picking up foul after foul. There was nothing for the Mean Green to do but shake their heads in disbelief.
While North Texas came out firing, knocking down several three-pointers in the first quarter, the Mean Green offense began to fizzle as Texas (2-0) took control. Still, it was a close contest at the end of the first quarter, with the Horns holding a narrow 24-20 lead. However, Texas forced seven turnovers and held UNT to a dismal 21 percent shooting in the second quarter alone, as the Longhorns raced away with a 66-32 lead at the half.
Although Schaefer had just nine players at his disposal, the Longhorns never missed a beat, with all four freshmen playing significant minutes and gaining crucial experience. Schaefer noted that in future games, such as future non-conference matchups against Texas A&M and Tennessee, his team may be "out-talented," but that should not keep the Texas players from competing and playing hard.
"That's the key," Scaefer said. "I've won a lot of games where we weren't as talented as the other team according to the number they put by somebody's name when they were recruited. We just have to play harder than everybody else."
Despite the lopsided score, Schaefer is focused on improvement. He recognized some flaws in both his team's offense and defense. For starters, Texas turned the ball over 18 times. On defense, allowing 69 points is "nine too many" for Schaefer's liking. But most importantly, it is effort and team chemistry that he wants his young squad to cultivate prior to Wednesday's showdown with Lousiana Tech. The game tips off at 7 p.m. and can be seen on the Longhorn Network.
"We're going to have to play hard, we're going to have to defend," said Schaefer postgame. "Right now our team chemistry is a long ways from where I want it to be. You're sitting there probably thinking, 'Well gosh, Coach, you just scored 106. How much better can it be?' It can be a lot better.
"We've got to keep after it and keep getting better defensively. Every night we have to play hard. That is critical for this group."