Strong Paint Play Pushes No. 8 Women’s Hoops over West Virginia, 73-50

Filed under: Sports,UT Women's Basketball |

The Longhorns scored 48 points in the paint, tying their Big 12-season high.

AUSTIN, Texas— Sophomore Brooke McCarty led all scorers with 18 points while sophomore Ariel Atkins recorded a season-high four steals to boost No. 8/7 Texas over RV/RV West Virginia, 73-50, inside the Frank Erwin Center on Sunday afternoon.

The contest marked the annual Shoot for a Cure game to raise awareness for breast cancer as part of the Horns for Hope initiative. In addition, the first head coach of Texas women’s basketball Rod Page was honored at the game for recording a record of 38-17 during his two-season stint with the Horns in 1974-76.

With the win, Texas (24-2, 13-2 Big 12 Conference) secured at least a second-place finish in the Big 12 Conference, the first time since a season-place finish in the 2004-05 campaign. In addition, Texas picked up its first-ever season sweep of the Mountaineers. The all-times series between the teams is tied at 5, but the Longhorns hold a 4-0 home advantage.

“We have been trying to find our energy and personality back again, and I think we found it today,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “We seemed to play stress-free and really focused. I wouldn’t even begin to point out an individual because our team was really good. We did everything we were supposed to do from a game plan perspective, and our decision-making offensively was terrific. It was an overall complete game for our team.”

McCarty added three assists along with her 18 points while Atkins tallied 10 points on the game. SeniorImani Boyette flirted with a double-double with 12 points and eight boards, and senior Brady Sandersand freshman LaShann Higgs totaled nine and eight points, respectively.

As a team, the Longhorns shot 48.4 percent (31-of-64) from the floor, their third-highest in Big 12 play this season, while holding West Virginia to a 35.3 shooting percentage (18-of-51). Texas recorded only nine turnovers in the game, tying the team’s lowest of the season. The Horns also added 48 points in the paint, tying their Big 12-season high.

West Virginia (20-8, 9-6 Big 12 Conference) was led by senior Arielle Roberson with 13 points.

The Mountaineers jumped out to a 12-5 advantage to open the game, but the Horns responded with an 8-0 push to take their first lead, 13-12, after McCarty fed junior Kelsey Lang a layup at the 1:56 mark. The margin would remain at one, but it was West Virginia who held the 16-15 lead at the end of the first.

After evening things at 19, the Horns added the next 10 points to jump out, 29-19, with 5:11 left in the first half. Texas continued to drive ahead by dominating the lane, notching 32 points from the paint in the first half alone. McCarty beat the shot clock with a triple to close the period, handing the Horns the 42-27 lead at halftime.

West Virginia added some baskets early in the second half to cut the deficit to 12 at the 5:56 mark, but Texas responded with a 14-0 spurt fueled by consecutive three-pointers from Sanders to make it 60-36 at the end of the third. The Horns limited the Mountaineers to just nine points in the quarter.

The Horns continued to drive ahead in the fourth, taking their largest lead, 68-38, courtesy of a fast-break layup from sophomore Tasia Foman. The Mountaineers scrambled back with a 12-5 rally, but it wasn’t enough as Texas took the game, 73-50.

Next on the slate, the Longhorns will travel to Lubbock, Texas, to play Texas Tech on Wednesday, January 24. Tip is set for 6:30 p.m. CT, and the game will be carried live on Fox Sports Southwest Plus.