NORMAN, Oklahoma — A 32-point effort from forward/center Charli Collier was the spark the Texas women's basketball team needed Wednesday to pull out a 69-58 win over Oklahoma at the Lloyd Noble Center.
The Longhorns entered the game having won just one of their last four road contests, and desperately needed a victory to hold on to their spot in the top half of the Big 12 standings. With the win, the Longhorns moved to 7-3 in Big 12 play, fourth in the conference standings, and 11-4 overall. Oklahoma fell to 6-8 overall, and 3-6 in Big 12 games.
"I'm really proud of our team tonight," head coach Vic Schaefer said after the game. "I really thought we showed some toughness tonight. We persevered through some stretches, but our second half defensively, holding them to 24 points after giving up 35 in the first was really special."
Collier followed up her 30-point, 19-rebound performance against Texas Tech by notching her 13th — seventh straight — double-double, adding 15 rebounds to 32 points in a full 40 minutes of action.
"Everybody knows their role on this team, and my role is to score," Collier said. "I have to be like that every single game in order for us to be successful, so I'm just doing my job."
Collier scored UT's first four points to help lead the Longhorns to an early 8-0 lead. Schaefer said the quick start was key to setting the tone for the remainder of the game.
"It was great," Schaefer said. "It is nice to see that you are ready to play and are executing. Again, we weren't turning the ball over, we were showing great patience, attacking the rim, getting to the paint."
Collier had a solid first quarter, but it was guard Celeste Taylor who proved to be the heartbeat of the Texas offense early on, scoring all 12 of her points in the first quarter, shooting 5-of-6 from the field.
The Longhorns clung to a narrow 39-35 lead at halftime, but Oklahoma took advantage of UT's slow third quarter start, mounting a 5-0 run to open the second half, and taking a 40-39 lead. Though the Sooners had the momentum on their side, Collier said that the team was not rattled as Oklahoma took the lead.
"They shot a lot of threes in that quarter," Collier said. "There wasn't much of a panic. We always tend to come out slow after the half, so we just had to make adjustments quickly. [Oklahoma] came out really well in that second half, so we just had to match that intensity. We were able to get some steals, get some hands on the ball and force some turnovers that we needed."
Texas did just that, as the Horns retook the lead when Collier knocked down four straight shots to close out the third, with UT in front, 53-49.
Texas shot a mere 30 percent from the field, but the Longhorns made shots when they had to, especially late in the game from the free-throw line when Oklahoma resorted to quick fouling in an attempt to close the gap. Shooting 8-of-10 from the charity stripe in the final 10 minutes, the Horns pulled out a much-needed victory.
The win can be attributed to strong rebounding by the Longhorns, who outrebounded the Sooners, 42-19, and created 18 second-chance points. A stat Schaefer said he was especially pleased with was the fact that his squad scored 48 points in the paint, as compared to Oklahoma's 26.
"We had 48 paint points tonight out of 69," Schaefer said. "That's what you want. We should wear that every night. That's got to be our makeup."
The road does not get any easier for Texas, as No. 24 West Virginia comes to Austin Saturday for a 7 p.m. (Central time) showdown that will be carried on the Longhorn Network.
"I think somebody said we got West Virginia on Saturday, and of course we know how that first time went around," Schaefer said, referring to the Longhorns' 92-58 loss to the Mountaineers Jan. 9 in Morgantown, W.Va. "Hopefully our kids will be excited to play that one. They'll have a couple of days of prep, and we'll see. If you're a competitor, after what happened up there, you're going to be attentive the next two days and you're going to be ready to go on Saturday."