Atkins has 25 points, No. 7 Texas beats Iowa State 81-69
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Texas guard Ariel Atkins opened the Big 12 Tournament with one of the most productive games of her decorated career.
The senior scored a season-high 25 points to help seventh-ranked Longhorns beat Iowa State 81-69 on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The all-conference pick made 5 of 6 3-pointers and finished one point short of her career high.
“We’re finding ways to get her shots more than I think we have been able to in the past,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “She is getting shots in a lot of different places and our coaches are doing a great job of getting her those shots, and the players, too.”
Atkins left quite an impression on Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly.
“The game just looks easy to her,” Fennelly said. “If she needs a good agent, I’m available because that kid is going to make a lot of money. She is going to play a lot of (pro) basketball.”
Jatarie White had 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Brooke McCarty added 12 points and seven assists to help the Longhorns (25-5) advance to play the Oklahoma State-West Virginia winner.
The Longhorns shot 55.2 percent from the field to claim their third victory over the Cyclones this season.
“Iowa State is a tough team to play,” Aston said. “I’ve been at Texas a while and I was an assistant here, and I can’t remember too many times we beat Iowa State three times in one year maybe, if ever.”
Emily Durr and Bridget Carleton each scored 25 points for the Cyclones (14-17). Durr, a senior, fell just two points short of her career high.
“If it was going to be the last game of my career, I wanted to go out on a high note,” she said. “So my teammates set some good screens and I got to the basket and made a few shots.”
Texas led 20-17 after the first quarter and started pulling away in the second. The Longhorns held Iowa State to 10 points in the period on 3-for-16 shooting and expanded their lead to 42-27 at halftime.
Atkins scored 12 points and White had 10 in the first half for the Longhorns, who shot 65.5 percent from the field before the break. White, a 6-foot-4 junior, created problems by making her mid-range shots and made 5 of 6 shots overall in the first half.
Carleton scored 14 points in the first half for Iowa State, but her teammates shot 5 for 20.
Durr’s layup midway through the third quarter cut Texas’ lead to eight, but McCarty came back with a 3-pointer at the other end. The Longhorns led 56-47 heading into the fourth quarter, and Iowa State never really threatened the rest of the way.
Aston wasn’t completely thrilled with the way her team played, especially late in the game.
“I thought we played really good the first half,” she said. “Lots of energy and shot the ball really well, then the second half, got a little lackadaisical defensively. Obviously, as we move along in this tournament, that’s not going to work.”
Iowa State: The Cyclones improved late in the season, winning five of eight before Saturday’s game, and they hung tight for much of this one. Durr is the only senior starter, so chances are good that the team will improve next season.
Texas: The Longhorns took another step toward a possible rematch with rival Baylor.
Texas and Iowa State both made nine 3-pointers, but Iowa State tried 27 and Texas attempted just 16.
Aston, on not being able to maintain a 21-point lead in the fourth quarter: “It is the personality of this team a little bit. They just don’t have a real killer instinct, and I wish we had that but we haven’t really found that all year long.”
Iowa State: Season likely is over.
Texas: Will play Oklahoma State or West Virginia in the semifinals Sunday.