No. 8 Texas women rally late to beat No. 20 Oklahoma State
By JIM VERTUNO
Jan. 04, 2018
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas has long had the quick feet and quick shot of senior guard Brooke McCarty to count on in tight games. Add LaShann Higgs as a big-time scoring threat from the outside and slashing to the basket and the Longhorns' backcourt could be a dominant force in the Big 12.
Higgs scored a career-high 30 points and McCarty added 21 points and 10 assists as No. 8 Texas rallied late to beat No. 20 Oklahoma State 84-79 on Wednesday night.
Higgs' career night came two games after she set her previous high of 25 points in the Big 12 opener against Oklahoma.
"When you can shoot the 3-pointer and penetrate, that gets hard to defend. Everyone knew Brooke can shoot and drive. The big difference is now we have two who can do that," Texas coach Karen Aston said.
Texas (12-1, 3-0 Big 12) has advanced to the Sweet 16 or farther each of the last three seasons and cruised through its first two league games. But the Longhorns found itself in a back-and-forth fight with a big and quick Oklahoma State team that matched them on the boards and big shots all game. Both teams shot better than 50 percent.
Oklahoma State led 77-71 before Texas stormed back behind two big baskets from Sug Sutton on a spinning layup and a 3-pointer from right corner that cut the lead to one. After Audrey-Ann Caron Goudreau blocked a layup attempt by Mandy Coleman, Higgs and McCarty made four consecutive free throws to give Texas its first lead of the second half with just under 2 minutes left.
Braxtin Miller got Oklahoma State back within one, but Coleman missed a long 3-pointer on the next possession before a driving layup by Higgs put Texas ahead 82-79 with 30 seconds to play.
"We didn't have an answer for Higgs. We knew she was good off the dribble. We planned on that and she still had a great night on that," Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said.
Miller scored 23 for Oklahoma State (11-3, 2-1) and Loryn Goodwin and Kaylee Jensen each scored 20 points.
Oklahoma State: The Cowgirls let a big upset get away. Foul trouble on the frontcourt was a problem late as Jenson and Coleman both had to play most of the fourth quarter with four fouls. That severely limited the Cowgirls' aggression on the offensive boards, where they had been so good for three quarters. The Cowgirls had knocked off then-No. 7 UCLA earlier this season and could have jumbled the Big 12 with a win Wednesday night.
"I feel like we taken steps. Are we there yet? No, because we didn't finish a game," Littell said.
Texas: The Longhorns got bailed out by their super-quick backcourt once again. Higgs and McCarty routinely burst to the basket for layups as Texas scored 52 points in the paint, despite very little scoring from the Longhorns' front court. Higgs was 11 of 15 shooting.
"We were very fortunate to win because the majority of the night they outplayed us in some areas. We didn't panic," Aston said. "It's going to be tough to handle them up there."
LATE FROM THE LINE
The Longhorns didn't get to the free throw line until the final three minutes of the third quarter, then went 12 of 13 down the stretch. On the other side, Oklahoma State didn't get to the line in the fourth quarter.
"It was a very clean game, high shooting percentages by both teams. I don't know what either one of us would say about our defenses," Aston said.
Oklahoma State has a starting lineup that can play with the best in the Big 12. Depth is clearly a concern for either points or rest. The Cowgirls got only two points off the bench and four of the five starters played at least 34 minutes. Jensen, who played 38 minutes, was 9 of 11 shooting. She made her only two shots of the fourth quarter but had only one rebound in the final period.
"I should have got Kaylee more touches in the fourth," Littell said.
Oklahoma State: Hosts Oklahoma on Sunday.
Texas: Plays at Kansas State on Sunday.