Women’s basketball routs Lamar, 77-49

29 Dec By
Freshman forward DeYona Gaston had the best game of her young career Tuesday, scoring a career-high 18 points and pulling down 10 rebounds as the Longhorns rolled Lamar, 77-49, at the Erwin Center (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

AUSTIN, Texas — Center Charli Collier led both teams with 28 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Texas women's basketball team to a 77-49 victory in its last game of 2020 over Lamar at the Frank Erwin Center.

The victory improved the Longhorns' record to 7-1 overall (and 1-0 against Big 12 opponents), while the Cardinals fell to 1-7.

The absence of a single fan in the stands did not appear to affect the Longhorns, who jumped out to a 40-25 lead at halftime and outscored Lamar in every quarter except the third.

Texas was solid on the offensive end, making 52 percent of its shots from the field, and stingy on the defensive end, forcing 23 turnovers.

Following a week off, Texas was lacking in depth Tuesday, playing eight players, with forwards Lauren Ebo and Audrey Warren, along with guard Celeste Taylor, sitting out. In Ebo's absence, freshman DeYona Gaston, who entered the game averaging just 17.5 minutes per game and 5.8 points per game, posted a double-double, scoring a season-high 18 points and pulling down 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.

"I'm happy for that kid," Schaefer said. "I was complaining all night that we didn't deny the floor a lick, and here she comes out of nowhere, gets a steal at the top of the key and goes down and lays it in. I'm like, 'Who was that kid?' We need her to be good. She's a tough matchup at forward now."

"I had to step up for my team," Gaston said.

Asked if she feels ready to do it again in a much tougher matchup against Iowa State Sunday, Gaston responded confidently, "Yes."

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Collier's double-double was her fifth of the year. For the majority of the contest, Lamar put just one defender on her, allowing for more opportunities to make an impact in the paint.

"Yeah it felt great, but I think a lot of people are realizing our guards can shoot more, so it frees up our inside game," Collier said. "When me and [Gaston] were in, it was hard to choose which one you wanted to guard. We had 23 rebounds combined. When your four and five are playing good like that, it is hard to defend."

Texas got out to a quick 6-0 run before a Lamar three-pointer cut the deficit in half. But the Longhorns responded with another 6-0 run midway through the quarter, and held a 20-11 advantage by the time the second quarter began. Though Lamar got within six, trailing 24-18 with 7:18 to play in the second, Collier drove to the lane, got the bucket and the foul, igniting a 16-7 run to close the half. Lamar never got any closer with the Horns keeping the foot on the pedal and finishing the third quarter on a 16-0 spurt.

While Schaefer told the press postgame that he felt his squad lacked team chemistry, Texas did not show the rust typically seen in teams coming off extensive breaks. It had been eight days since Texas had last taken the floor, quite some time in a season in which the majority of programs are practicing or playing nearly every day.

Though Texas won the game, Schaefer said his team is "not playing real well," and noted several things he wants to see before Iowa State comes to Austin.

"I'd have hated to play the way we played tonight on Sunday," Schaefer said. "That's what you risk if you don't play another game before you open on Sunday in conference. It was very critical, I think, that we played a game. We've got to clean some things up. Our team chemistry was not real good because frankly, we were playing with some combinations we haven't played with all year.

"We're going to have to play with them again. With the way things are across the country, with Covid, the pandemic and injuries, you just don't know what you're going to have to deal with, so this is 2020-2021. We're going to have to adapt."

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, his personal blog 360 Sports, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. Twitter: @ZayasRiley