AUSTIN, Texas — Karisma Ortiz scored 15 points, all in the first half, to help the Texas women's basketball team take down Idaho, 73-48, Wednesday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center.
The victory improved UT's record to 4-1 overall, while the Vandals fell to 2-1 in their first game that was played against a team from outside the Big Sky Conference.
"She's probably our best shooter right now from three," Texas head coach Vic Schaefer said of Ortiz. "That's one of the reasons she's in the lineup today. Karisma's probably the least [quick], least athletic of our guards, yet she's got four steals, she's in passing lanes, she's where she's supposed to be."
Center Charli Collier led the Longhorns with 20 points and 11 rebounds, including the 500th of her UT career, to extend her streak of double-doubles to five, while guard Joanne Allen-Taylor matched Oritz's 15 points.
For Ortiz, who added three rebounds, four assists and four steals it was a performance toward which she had been building for more than a year after sitting out last season, per NCAA rules after transferring from Penn State.
All season Schaefer has spoken of overwhelming opponents on defense and allowing fewer than 60 points a game. The Longhorns reached both of those goals, limiting Idaho to 24 percent shooting, and holding the Vandals 12 points below the 60-point mark.
Coming into the contest, Idaho led the country in rebounds, but the Longhorns edged the Vandals on the glass, 52-49, and limited them to just four offensive rebounds by halftime.
Defense was key Wednesday. The Longhorns shot just 37 percent from the field, but was even stingier against the Vandals, who connected on just 24.6 percent of their shots. UT's modest shooting was balanced by its production from beyond the three-point line: led by guard Kyra Lambert, who was three of five from three-point range, Texas knocked down 12 threes, tying the school record for the most in a single game.
Texas also turned the ball over just six times, the third-lowest total in a game in program history and less than half of Idaho's 13.
From tip-off, Texas had an obvious advantage over the Vandals, who were without leading scorer Gabi Harrington.
"I'm really proud of our first half," said Schaefer postgame. "I thought we shot the ball with a different [kind of] confidence."
By the time halftime rolled around, Texas had taken a commanding 46-14 lead, its largest of the season, but got outscored, 18-16, in the third quarter and 16-11 in the fourth.
"We just didn't have the same intensity [in the second half]," Schaefer said, "which is very common when you're up 30 at the half. With the team that we have that is very young, and immature, and inexperienced, you're going to have these things happen. I knew it was coming."
With Tennessee coming to the Erwin Center this Sunday, a slow start to the second half could mean the difference between a notable non-conference win and a frustrating loss.
"We'll move on and get ready for a monster Tennessee team," said Schaefer. "They're big, strong, physical, rebound it like a monster. As y'all know I've had to deal with them the past eight years and I know what's coming down the pipe. I'm not sure our kids do, but we'll make sure they know by the time we get to Sunday."