With teamwork the focus, Arriaran and Women's Basketball shine
Jan. 21, 2010
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas -- Against No. 12 Oklahoma State, the Longhorns started the game like they wanted to finish it. Thank Kathleen Nash for that.
The junior guard, usually known for her steady calm, injected the early pulse. She hustled back on defense, made baskets when she had to and fought for every ball on every possession.
"It's a physical game," head coach Gail Goestenkors says. "You've got to step up."
Nash did, and so did Texas -- literally and figuratively with this 77-63 victory on Wednesday night.
The Cowgirls rolled in on an 11-game winning streak, with a swagger that only Andrea Riley's scoring savvy can provide, but the Longhorns had a look about them, too.
A memorable double-overtime, comeback win at Texas Tech last weekend gave reason to believe. Their focus against the Cowgirls showed what can happen when they do, indeed, believe in the quality of their effort.
The Longhorns started 0-for-7 from the floor, yet still managed to land a few punches. And OSU coach Kurt Budke obviously knew he was in for a fight -- not even six minutes had passed in the first half and he had already shed his traditional sideline blazer.
"They've got a lot of pride," Budke said of the Longhorns.
And so the Longhorns dug in, and saw Yvonne Anderson come off the bench to agitate Riley into a speed where even she felt uncomfortable. Riley finished with 31 points, with nine of those coming from the free throw line and 12 more in the final five minutes with UT already leading by 20.
Still, OSU is more than Riley, and characteristically, the Cowgirls made deep shots, deep in the shot clock. The difference was the Longhorns' ability to absorb and answer.
After a 3-point bomb by Lakyn Garrison, post Ashley Gayle set up an Erika Arriaran 3-pointer that gave UT a slim 22-21 lead, and the Longhorns extended that to 31-27 at halftime. But UT seemed to enter intermission with more momentum than the score indicated, particularly because of the defense the Longhorns played in the final two minutes.
Amusingly, it was mostly their own doing, too. Two offensive rebounds gave OSU two extra offensive possessions, but all the Cowgirls managed in that flurry were four failed 3-point attempts.
"We just kept fighting and working," Goestenkors said.
And then it started working. The second half showed what happens when five play as one, when the collective energy becomes greater than the parts.
Opportunities are created, and seized. Thank Erika Arriaran for that.
Using two teammates to pop her open on the perimeter, Arriaran found a rhythm even she said she hasn't experienced in years. Dribble, pop, dribble, pop -- and just like that, after Arriaran's third 3-pointer in a three minute span, the Longhorns turned a seven-point deficit into a five-point lead with 10 minutes still to play.
The Cowgirls never got any closer.
All told, it was a record night for Arriaran. She was 5-of-6 from 3-point range in the second half, and finished with a career-high 28 points. Her eight 3-pointers set a UT record for most by a single player in a Big 12 game.
"Everybody just created off each other. If you take one look away, there's going to be another look that's wide open," Arriaran said. "It put chills up my spine. It was a great feeling. It felt like I was in a dream."