AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Tiffany Jackson scored 15 points after sitting out most of the first half and Texas (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 2 AP) got a career game from senior Mercedes Williams in beating No. Penn State 84-69 in the Tip-Off Classic on Sunday.
Williams, a senior who averaged just 2.5 points in her first three years, gave the Longhorns a huge lift with 15 points and nine rebounds, both career highs. Coco Reed added 12 points for Texas, while Heather Schreiber and Jamie Carey each scored 11.
Texas generally looked sharp in its new motion offense, shooting 70 percent (19-for-27) in the first half and 63 percent for the game. The Longhorns are playing faster and are more perimeter-oriented after the graduation of center Stacy Stephens, who had been the focal point of the offense.
Tanisha Wright and Jess Strom combined for all but 21 of Penn State's points, Wright finishing with a career-high 30 and Strom 18. The Lady Lions, also playing their opener, whittled a 20-point deficit to 10 with 4:44 remaining but managed only one point the rest of the way.
Jackson and Schreiber, the Longhorns' top two returning scorers, each had only two points in the first half, yet the Longhorns led 50-35. Jackson picked up two fouls in the first 3:28 and sat out the rest of the half, while Schreiber was limited to three shots in 14 minutes.
But Carey made all four of her shots in the opening half, including three 3-pointers, while Reed came through with 10 points and Williams nine.
Jackson got it going in the second half, making 5-of-7 shots. She hit two straight baskets inside and Schreiber made a 3-pointer from the left wing in a 7-0 run that gave the Longhorns at 57-37 lead.
Texas then answered whenever Penn State threatened. After the Lady Lions drew to 70-59 on Amanda Brown's rebound shot, Jackson converted a three-point play off a drive and Schreiber's block led to a layup by Kala Bowers.
Penn State came back once more, cutting the lead to 78-68 on Wright's high-arching shot. Carey then hit Williams cutting to the basket for a layup and Texas pulled away.
Tip-Off Classic Records:
Team Field Goal Percentage - Texas 63.3 (31-49) Old Record: 56.7 (38-67) Connecticut vs. Georgia (2000)
Team Fewest Rebounds - Penn State (23) Old Record: 25 –Tennessee vs. Purdue 1998; Baylor vs. LSU 2004
Texas senior F Mercedes Williams notched a career-high 15 points and career-best nine rebounds… The victory was Texas' 37th consecutive home-court win streak, a current streak which leads Division I basketball (men's and women's).
Penn State Coach Rene Portland
General assessment of game…
"There's a certain amount of disappointment. Our defense let us down. Like any coach, I'll say that it's the first game and that we've got a lot to build on. These two players sitting next to me (seniors Tanisha Wright and Jess Strom) carried the brunt of this game on their shoulders. We've got to go back and work on defense. We gave up easy shots. Texas got a lot of second attempts. We'll go back and work on our defense, check out, and we'll be in better shape. They (Texas) shot incredibly well. They should be happy."
On Texas without 2004 senior Stacy Stephens …
"I can't say that they're better or worse. They are deeper than they were last year. (Tiffany) Jackson is older and maybe wiser. Coco Reed and (Nina) Norman didn't really do anything last year. They must have put that film in their back pocket because Reed had 10 points in the first half today. They have a lot more balance. They were wise to pound the ball inside against us. They got a lot from a lot of different people."
On the play of Texas senior Mercedes Williams…
"We didn't even see her before. Our post defense wasn't giving help. Amanda Brown got in foul trouble. They were wise to attack us inside. At the same time, our guard defense was nonchalant at times. We didn't put enough pressure on the ball."
"At halftime, I told our coaches, '(Heather) Schreiber and (Tiffany) Jackson aren't doing much, and we're still losing by a whole lot.' In the second half, we played harder. We got it to 10, but we let it get away from us. We've got to work harder on defense."
Penn State Senior Guard Tanisha Wright
Talking about the team's effort and UT's defense…
"We didn't buckle down as a team. We got it down to 11-12 points, even to 10, but we didn't' get a stop. It snowballed after that. They threw a lot of different people at me. Really, it wasn't anything Texas did. I just missed shots. I didn't score enough for us to win."
Texas Head Coach Jody Conradt
Her general remarks…
"Penn State was a tough opponent and a very difficult team to guard. I thought we put in a good offensive effort tonight, but we need to work on our defense against penetration. I was pleased with our effort guarding against Jess Strom and Tanisha Wright and everyone also contributed in the rotation. I was really pleased with our first outing against a really strong opponent."
On whether anything surprised her about her team's effort in its opening game…
"I really did not know what to expect coming into this game, but I thought we handled our offense much better than I thought we would. Our decision-making was good and that is encouraging. We have changed our offense and there were a lot of questions answered. We need to improve, of course, but we now have a base to build upon."
Texas Sophomore Forward Tiffany Jackson
"I was definitely more comfortable today than I was this time last year. I'm more experienced and that helped me make wiser decisions with the ball. We are one of the best teams in the country because everyone on the team contributes and can step-up on any given night. This will make it hard for other teams to defend us."
Texas Senior Guard Jamie Carey
"There are definitely a lot of expectations put on this team, but I think the team puts higher expectations on ourselves than anyone from the outside. We played hard and I am proud of the energy and fight this team put up. We wanted to win and it showed."
Texas Senior Forward Annissa Hastings
"I did not get to spend a lot of time on the court when I was rehabbing my Achilles; I spent most of my time in the training room, working with our trainer DeAnn (Koehler) and going in the Swim-Ex. Once I was able to get back on the court, I worked really hard on my game. And, shooting better is part of the plan."