No. 22 Women's Basketball registers 92-55 win over Missouri State in season opener
AUSTIN, Texas -- Behind all five starters in double-figure scoring, the No. 22 Texas women's basketball team opened the Gail Goestenkors coaching era with a decisive 92-55 season-opening victory over Missouri State Sunday in front of 4,952 at the Frank Erwin Center.
Texas, now 1-0, relied on career-highs of 22 points from sophomore guard Brittainey Raven and a career-high 17 from sophomore redshirt point guard Carla Cortijo while limiting the Lady Bears (0-1) to 29 percent shooting from the floor.
The win was the first for Goestenkors as Longhorns head coach. Goestenkors, now 397-99 in her career, took over for Jody Conradt in April after building the Duke women's basketball program into a national championship contender for the past 15 seasons.
The game marked the first time since January of 2006 that five UT players hit for double-digit scoring. Joining Raven and Cortijo in double-figures were junior post Ashley Lindsey, who had 14 points, redshirt sophomore forward Earnesia Williams (13 points) and senior guard Erneisha Bailey (10 points). Lindsey also pulled down a game-high nine rebounds and had a game-high three blocks as well, while Cortijo collected a game-best seven assists.
The Lady Bears connected on just 18 of 62 field goal attempts, including an eight-for-33 effort in the first half which saw MSU down 41-23 at the break.
The UT defensive pressure contributed to 29 MSU turnovers. The Longhorns, with 15 turnovers, held a commanding edge in points off turnovers (26-8).
Texas shot 49 percent for the contest, making 30 of 61 shots.
The score was tied only twice in the game, with the last time at 4-4. Texas took the lead for good at the 17:37 mark, breaking the 4-4 tie with an 18-0 run over the next 5:15, capped by two Bailey free throws which pushed the lead to 22-4 with 12:22 left in the half.
In that 18-0 run, the Longhorns made six of 10 shots from the floor and went four-for-five from the foul line. Bailey triggered the 18-0 run with eight points, including a three-pointer with one assist and a steal as well.
The closest Missouri State could get was 16 points, 24-8 on a Tiffany Coppage jumper with 11:23 to go before layups by Williams and Raven and two free throws by Cortijo pushed UT's lead to 22, 30-8, with 6:31 left.
The first half saw the Longhorns shoot 44 percent (15-34) while holding the Lady Bears to 24 percent shooting accuracy. Raven paced the offense with 11 first-half points, while Bailey had eight. UT also built the lead behind a nine-for-11 free throw effort and tough defense, as the Lady Bears turned the ball over 18 times in the first 20 minutes.
In the second half, the Lady Bears netted five three-pointers, with four of them coming in the first four-plus minutes. Missouri State got as close as 13 points, 41-28, on a Breton Wyatt 3-pointer with 18:41 to play, but Texas went on a 15-8 run over the last four minutes and led by 20 (56-36) following a short jumper by freshman Rachel Rentschler with 14:32 to play.
Texas then extended its lead throughout the rest of the half behind a 56 percent second-half shooting performance. UT made 15 of 27 shots in the final 20 minutes and went an impressive 20-for-22 from the foul line as well.
For the game, UT was 29-for-33 from the free throw line, led by Cortijo who had career-bests in free throws attempted (11) and made (10).
Missouri State was led by 20 points from senior guard Tahnee Balerio and 16 points from junior guard Maggie Dwyer. The Lady Bears were nine-for-25 from 3-point range and 10-for-18 from the free throw line.
The Longhorns held a 41-40 edge in rebounding and also led in fast-break points, 18-3.
Texas returns to the court on Thursday, Nov. 15 when it hosts Lamar University in a 7 p.m. game from the Frank Erwin Center.
· The victory for new UT head coach Gail Goestenkors was the 397th of her career ... Goestenkors now stands 397-99 in this her 16th season as head collegiate basketball coach, and her winning percentage of 80 percent ranks No. 3 among all-time active women's basketball coaches
· The five Texas players in double-figure scoring marked the first time since the 2005-06 season that five Longhorns reached double-digit scoring in the same game
· This is the 34th season of Texas women's basketball, and the Longhorns are now 25-9 in all-time season openers ... this includes a 31-3 mark in home season openers
· The 92 points by Texas marked the first time UT has reached or surpassed the 90-plus point mark in four-plus seasons ... The last time UT scored 90-plus points was in a 92-57 victory over Southern University in NCAA first round play in Austin on March 21, 2004
· The 92 points were the most by a Longhorn team in a season opener in 20 years ... Texas defeated Northern Arizona, 93-34, on Nov. 27, 1987
· Texas now leads the series with Missouri State by a 3-0 margin
TEXAS POSTGAME QUOTES
We go against guys, our male practice players, every day in practice. They are bigger and stronger than us and better ballhandlers. That's been good for us to face. We are going to be relentless on our ball pressure and get up in the pressing lanes, and I think we surprised them a little early on with that. They weren't able to run their offense early on and had to take some off-balance shots. That ignited us and got us going.
Give credit to Missouri State. I know all about their tradition. They are a really nice team, returning four starters, and that transfer guard (Maggie Dwyer) is tough, as you saw. They got used to our pressure in the second half. They penetrated and kicked it out for the 3's and were successful. That's something we need to work on - getting out on shooters. Give all the credit to them for never giving in and backing down.
On what it was like for her, personally, to be on the Longhorns sidelines for the first official game: It felt great! I have a lot of friends in town, here to support me and support our team. Right now, the most important thing is that our team working hard and I think you saw that from us today. We all wanted to get this game under our belts and were ready to play a game that really mattered.
On the fact that the 92 points were the most scored by UT in four years: It's a good start for us. Like I said, we are going to push the ball this year. The team has been really excited since I first took this job and told them that we were going to be an up-tempo team. When I told them that I wanted to run and press in our first meeting, they started cheering. This is the style we want to play, but, it is a work in progress. I know we missed out on a lot of transition opportunities, and that's something we'll talk about tomorrow in practice, but to put up those kind of numbers this early bodes well for this team.
On the play of junior post Ashley Lindsey and her emergence: We need Ashley to be aggressive on all of our possessions and run on every possession. I don't believe that there's a faster post player out there than Ashley. I want her to continue to look for her shot. We've been on her to block shots and we thought she was too passive at times this preseason, but she can block anyone's shot. She needs to use her strengths, one of which is blocking shots. Now, we need to work on her being consistent in every aspect of her game.
On receiving her first pair of Texas boots in pre-game ceremonies today: I'm putting them on right after the press-conference! I asked where they were right after the game, or else I would have them on now, and the managers had taken them and put them up in the locker room. I'm going to wear them tonight, and I'm pretty excited. I already knew where the place was where I would get my boots, Allen's Boots on South Congress, and I was going to go there. Now, this was an early Christmas present for me and I thank our sponsor (H-E-B) for the present.
SOPHOMORE REDSHIRT GUARD CARLA CORTIJO
SOPHOMORE GUARD Brittainey Raven
MISSOURI POSTGAME QUOTES
On her team's 29 turnovers: A lot of it was Texas' athleticism, and we knew that coming in. They are long and they are athletic. It's something that we absolutely cannot simulate in practice. We have some bad habits that we have to try and break, like passing the ball over the top of people. So a lot of the turnovers was them, but then I thought some of them (turnovers) were fatigue turnovers as well. But facts are facts, and we played four freshmen extended minutes today. I thought we had some places where we showed some nerves. My two big concerns were the turnovers and rebounding. For the most part, our rebounding effort was so much better than it was the first two exhibition games, so that is an area we need to improve on that I thought we were a little bit better at today.
On the confidence level of the team: That's going to be my job, and the coaching staff's job is to take this game and use it as a learning process. We obviously wished that the score was a little closer and that we would've been able to compete a little bit harder, but there's some really positive places where we can break the film down and show some four-to-five minute clips where we did some really good things. It's part of the ball game and you can't take those out because it is what it is. For our defensive transition, we aren't going to play that many teams with that type of speed. The other frustrating thing were the free throws. They pretty much lived at the free throw line and when we did get our opportunity, we didn't cash in on it.
SENIOR GUARD TAHNEE BALERIO
On the 18-0 Texas run early in the game to break a 4-4 tie: I don't think it was nerves, because at the beginning it was four-to-four and then seven-to-four going into the first media timeout. I would think that we already had our nerves out. But I think that was just between turnovers, bad shot selection and transition baskets. We let them get out in transition and get a lot of confidence knowing they could do that.
On how this game helps them: I think the biggest positive is that we only got out-rebounded by one. When we usually play really good teams in bigger conferences that are bigger, rebounding is usually why we lose. This time it was turnovers, but at least we did not get out-rebounded by very much. I think we can take that and just knowing that we can do some things against a team like Texas helps our confidence.