No. 4/5 Texas Women’s Basketball Wins 13th Straight Home Game | Horns Illustrated

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AUSTIN, Texas -- No. 4/5 Texas Women's Basketball defeated Texas Tech, 55-44, on Saturday afternoon to mark the Longhorns' 13th consecutive win at the Erwin Center.

The Longhorns (14-2, 3-2 Big 12) were led by 11 points from sophomore forward Nekia Jones and nine points from junior guard Brady Sanders.

"I liked out energy today, and I liked our focus," Head CoachKaren Aston said. "We played a much better, cerebral game today that we had in the last two. I'm proud of our team. Winning is very tough in this league, so when you get one, you better be happy about it."

The Longhorns' depth helped power their first victory in three games, as the UT bench outscored Texas Tech's bench 41-to-9. With the return of freshman Ariel Atkinsand sophomore Brianna Taylor from injury, Saturday marked the first game this season that Texas has had a fully healthy roster at its disposal.

"All year long we've had a bench come in and really give us energy," Aston commented. "It helps when you get that energy off the bench."

Sanders scored all nine of her points in the second half to keep the Lady Raiders at bay. Junior centerImani McGee-Stafford added eight points, while senior Nneka Enemkpali and freshman Brook McCarty added seven apiece.

Enemkpali added a team-high eight rebounds as the Longhorns out-rebounded the Lady Raiders 40-to-30.

Texas turned in another strong defensive effort as they held Texas Tech to 27 percent shooting (12-for-44) from the field and held its opponent to under 50 points for the seventh time this season.

Both teams had sluggish starts from the field as Texas Tech started 2-for-13 and Texas started 0-for-8. The Longhorns separated with a 10-0 run halfway through the first half and never surrendered the lead the rest of the game. Texas finished the half hitting ten of their final 15 shots. Tech was held to 21 percent (5-for-24) shooting in the first half.

Coming out of the break, Texas Tech whittled the Longhorns lead down to four at the 12-minute mark. Texas answered with a 6-0 run to push the margin back to double digits, 38-28. The run was capped by a coast-to-coast layup by McCarty.

Texas Tech (12-5, 2-3) was led by Amber Battle who scored ten points, but was held to 1-of-14 shooting from the field.

Texas returns to action against No. 3/3 Baylor on Monday night in Waco (5:30 p.m. Central, FOX Sports 1).


SERIES: Texas now leads the series with Texas Tech, 64-29, including a 31-7 mark in Austin.
STARTERS: Krystle Henderson, Celina Rodrigo, Empress Davenport, Nneka Enemkpali and Kelsey Lang started for the Longhorns on Saturday. This is the first time the Longhorns have used this lineup to start a game and the fifth different starting combination this season.
HOME COURT ADVANTAGE: Texas has won 13 straight home games, including an 11-0 record a home this season. The Horns are 25-2 at the Frank Erwin Center since last season.
CLEARING THE BENCH: 13-of-15 Longhorns registered minutes on Saturday. 10 Longhorns scored points and 11 grabbed at least one rebound. With Brianna Taylor and Ariel Atkins returning from injury on Saturday, it marked the first game this season Texas had its full roster healthy.
LONE STAR STATE SUCCESS: The Longhorns have posted a 434-104 (.806) record against current NCAA Division I in-state foes in the program's history, including 64 wins over Texas Tech.
POINTS IN THE PAINT: Texas out-scored Texas Tech in the paint, 24-10. Texas is out-scoring its opponents in the paint by an average of 36-to-18.
BIG D: Longhorns held Texas Tech to 44 points, marking the seventh time UT has held its opponent to under 50 points. Texas entered Saturday with the 18th-ranked scoring defense in the country, holding opponents to 53.9 points per game.
CRASHING THE BOARDS: Texas out-rebounded the Lady Raiders, 40-30. On the season, Texas has out-rebounded all 16 opponents with an 11.9 rebounding margin.

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Head Coach Karen Aston
Opening Statement: We got to a point where we didn't quite enjoy winning. But I enjoyed it today. It was hard and ugly at times. I enjoyed the fact that our team played together today and they seemed to have the same purpose. Sometimes you have to learn some tough lessons. I liked our energy today, I liked our focus. We played a much better, cerebral game today than we had in the last two. I'm proud of our team. Winning is very tough in this league, so when you get one you better be happy about it.

On what caused the slow start: Some of it is rhythm, learning to reverse the basketball. We talked about that because we're not shooting in rhythm because we are shooting too quick and not moving it side to side. I thought we were much better at that on the second half. It's just a hangover from the last two games. As we went along we made better decisions.

On if the confidence level of the team is better with the win: I would think so. People made big shots and they made big plays. When I say big plays -- they made the right plays. Your confidence comes from doing the right things. I would think that their confidence is much better today.

On the importance of having Brianna Taylor and Ariel Atkins back: It's big because they give us a different look on defense. What we would've been asking them to do offensively might be a little much right now just because they are surely not in rhythm. I think what they give to us from an energy perspective on the defensive end, gives us the ability to play the up-tempo game because they can press more. They are probably our two best at turning the heat up on the defensive end.

On the production from the bench: It's huge and it's what was missing on the Oklahoma game. If you look at that game, we had some things going on where our starters were not great and our bench didn't produce. All year long we've had a bench come in and really give us energy and all that. It helps when you get energy off the bench.

Brady Sanders (Junior, G)
On staying undefeated at home and getting back on track: It's always great to win at home. I think as a team we just needed a win in general to give us some confidence back even though it wasn't perfect. We want to go undefeated on our home court, it's one of those things that we say every home game, to protect our court.

On how do they get their confidence back after a loss: One of the things we are trying to get back to is not letting the offensive end dictate the energy that we give, how hard we work on defense, and the little things like that. Just having each other's backs on this team. I didn't shoot well in this game, but it was my teammates that gave me the confidence to keep shooting. If one person is off, that doesn't dictate how the game is going to go, we have so many offensive threats. That's something that we are really trying to focus on. I don't want to say it's good to lose, but it definitely humbled us, it helped us refocus.

On the next matchup against Baylor: It's always fun to play Baylor, but it's also just another Big 12 game and it's just as important as the next one. I think coming off this home win will definitely carry over. We're going to have a good preparation day tomorrow and so were just going to go out there and work hard.


Head Coach Candi Whitaker
Opening Statement: We started our game plan pretty well -- the type of game we needed it to be. Lower possession, lower scoring, we used probably four different defenses. We did a pretty good job of sticking to our game plan, but obviously we have to make more shots. 

On how the depth of Texas affected the game: That's something they definitely have. They have a lot of players that they can put in and play and there's not a lot of drop. There's some very good players that come off the bench, so there's no question that affects the game when you can put in a lot of people versus players that are in for a lot of minutes every game. I felt that at times we looked very fatigued.

On the improvement from last year: Clearly we are much improved. Just getting this team to believe that together they can win games in this league. They have to play on both ends of the floor, you've got to be able to score enough points to finish it off. I'm proud of our effort, we put in a lot of effort in the glass in situation that maybe we were outmatched and just played really hard.

James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.

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