Higgs leads No. 2 Texas past Stetson in Longhorns’ opener
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lashann Higgs aspires to fill a critical role for the Texas Longhorns — defensive stopper.
On Sunday, the junior guard showed that she is capable of much more than that.
Higgs scored 18 points and No. 2 Texas opened its season with a 95-59 victory over Stetson on Sunday.
A former high school all-American, Higgs started three games before this season. She became a starter with the departure of Brianna Taylor, a senior last season who was Big 12 defensive player of the year. Against Stetson, Higgs converted 7 of 9 shots from the field and 4 of 5 free throws to finish one point shy of her career best in only 18 minutes on the court.
Higgs, who has admitted to a lack of confidence in the past said, “I played OK. You have good games and you have bad games. You just have to take it as it comes.”
But asked if Sunday was a good or bad day, she smiled and said, “I guess an exceptionally good day.”
Senior guard Ariel Atkins said Higgs has worked to improve her skills and confidence.
“She’s growing into the player she wants to be,” Atkins said. “We saw a transformation over the summer.”
Senior Brooke McCarty, the Big 12 player of the year last season, scored 14 for Texas. Atkins produced a career-best six assists and four steals for the Longhorns. Junior Jordan Hosey added a career-high 13 points and eight rebounds.
Kennedi Colclough led Stetson (1-1) with 19 points. Brittney Chambers scored 12.
Texas shot a tidy 48.2 percent. Stetson wasn’t bad, either hitting 45.8.
“For an opener, and having a lot of players that are in completely different roles, and (four) new players, it was a good day for us,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “We need to get better defensively. They exposed us in some areas.”
Stetson: The Hatters had a tough job Sunday. Coach Lynn Bria has replaced three starters from the defending Atlantic Sun regular season champs. Making the task more difficult is that Bria’s best player, 6-3 senior Sarah Sagerer, is out with a back injury. Sagerer averaged 10.4 points a game last season while leading the conference in rebounding (8.8) and blocks (3.0). But Bria did use the game to get some experience for four freshmen who are in her rotation.
“I told them, if you can play against them, you can play against anybody,” Bria said.
Bria said she expects to have Sagerer back for conference competition, which begins in early January.
Texas: Aston’s biggest concern about her team, at least early in the season, is rebounding. That’s because Aston’s second-and third-best rebounders last season were seniors, and her best, 6-3 Joyner Holmes (8.2), is suspended until Dec. 23 by the university for an unspecified violation. Stetson did not provide the test expected from some nationally ranked opponents before Holmes returns. Texas outrebounded Stetson 51-25.
FAST START FOR LONGHORNS
Texas led 57-33 at halftime thanks largely to a 33-point first quarter. That’s the most the Longhorns scored in any quarter since the NCAA switched from two halves to four quarters for women’s basketball before the 2015-16 season.
Stetson hosts Chattanooga on Wednesday.
Texas hosts McNeese State Wednesday morning.