Bench strength sparks win in tour­ney opener

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - By Rick Cantu rcantu@states­man.com

Texas won its Big 12 Tour­na­ment opener 71-60 over Ok­la­homa State on Satur­day night at Ch­e­sa­peake En­ergy Arena, but there was an­other score that caught coach Karen As­ton’s at­ten­tion.

Texas won the bat­tle of the benches 32-18.

Play­ers and coaches from both teams said Texas had “fresher legs” than OSU. That be­came ev­i­dent as role play­ers such as Lashann Higgs (12 points, three as­sists) and Jor­dan Hosey (10 points, three re­bounds) found driv­ing lanes through the Cow­girls, who were tired from play­ing Fri­day night against Kansas.

As the Longhorns move for­ward through the post­sea­son, they will need strong con­tri­bu­tions through­out the ros­ter.

“One rea­son is that we al­ways tend to get some­one in foul trou­ble, and I think they rec­og­nized that,” As­ton said. “Our play­ers stay ready. They work in prac­tice like they have an ex­pec­ta­tion they’re go­ing to play.”

Texas took con­trol with a 15-0 scor­ing run dur­ing a five-minute stretch of the third quar­ter. Higgs and Hosey capped the run with a pair of free throws apiece to give the Longhorns their largest lead at 56-35.

Ok­la­homa State (17-14) would never climb within 10 points down the stretch. The Cow­girls were led by cen­ter Kaylee Jensen, who scored 18 points, but she strug­gled with her shot, hit­ting just 5 of 18 from the field.

Texas used a trio of play­ers to guard OSU’s top scorer — 6-5 Kelsey Lang, 6-4 Au­dreyAnn Caron-Goudreau and 6-3 Joyner Holmes. Those were the same play­ers who lim­ited Jensen to 3-for-19 shoot­ing dur­ing a 66-35 vic­tory over the Cow­girls on Jan. 10 in Austin.

“Texas gets to me be­cause they’re longer than most other teams in the Big 12,” she said. “I think I try to ma­neu­ver too much around them in­stead of pow­er­ing to the hoop, and that’s some­thing I need to work on.”

Texas point guard Brooke McCarty hit 6 of her 12 shots from the field for a teamhigh 13 points.

Texas won al­most ev­ery sta­tis­ti­cal cat­e­gory, outscor­ing OSU 48-18 in the paint, 17-14 off turnovers and 12-0 on fast-break points.

“If you take a bad shot against Texas, it just puts them in a track meet,” Cow­girls coach Jim Lit­tell said. “We had prob­a­bly six or seven pos­ses­sions where we let them get out in a hurry. ... They wear you down. With their ath­leti­cism, you have to put a body on them be­cause we’re not go­ing to win those 50-50 re­bounds.”

Lang had one of her most pro­duc­tive of­fen­sive games of the sea­son, scor­ing 10 points on 5-for-5 shoot­ing from the field. Cu­ri­ously, she did not have a re­bound.

Texas won the bat­tle of the boards 42-31. Bri­anna Tay­lor had a team-high eight re­bounds as the Longhorns won the re­bound­ing bat­tle for the 27th time in 30 games.

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