Women's Basketball finds lesson in face of defeat
Jan. 13, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
The only good thing about a loss is that there’s usually something to be learned from it, and Wednesday’s night clash with No. 1 Baylor provides the Texas Longhorns team some lessons about who they are and what they still can be.
UT led by as many as 11, and the Longhorns opened with textbook post defense against Brittney Griner, who hit just one of her first seven shots from the field as she struggled for deep position under the basket.
In the end, it came down to composure down the stretch, and the Lady Bears, whose only loss this season came against Connecticut, closed out for an 87-72 victory.
“Texas is to be complimented. They played hard and aggressive, which you expected,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We just withstood the storm.”
The Longhorns stood toe-to-toe with the Lady Bears, and their competitive character allowed them to match Baylor punch for punch.
The Lady Bears rolled into the Frank Erwin Center as not just the nation’s top-ranked team but also owners of the nation’s best scoring margin, beating opponents by 34.5 points a game. The 15-point win is Baylor’s third closest of the season, after beating No. 6 Tennessee and No. 16 Notre Dame each by 11 and No. 17 Iowa State by 12.
Baylor also ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense and entered the contest allowing only 50.5 points a game.
“We felt we could win this game,” Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. “We’re going to play tough.”
With a guard-heavy roster, the Longhorns have to be creative with their lineups, and Goestenkors says to be successful her team must play “harder, smarter and together.”
“Against Baylor, we played together, and we certainly played hard,” Goestenkors said. “We could have played smarter.”
Afterward, point guard Ashleigh Fontenette wore this lesson on her face and in her voice.
Her early aggression was the catalyst for UT’s 19-8 lead with 11:55 to play in the first half. During that span, Fontenette scored 11 points on 5-of-5 shooting and also logged an assist, rebound and steal.
The Lady Bears countered Fontenette’s speedy drives, and then she started settling for jump shots. Fontenette missed her next five attempts from the floor, as Baylor pulled out a 32-30 halftime lead.
“I kind of fell into their trap,” Fontenette said. “I quit attacking.”
As UT’s point guard, Fontenette is also the Longhorns’ leader, and not even an hour after the final buzzer against Baylor, she was learning from the loss. Her teammates will follow.
"I'm proud of how hard the team played," Goestenkors said. "Overall I feel like we saw some good things and some things we know we can do better."