The Longhorns came out firing from the opening tip hitting four three-pointers in the first quarter and jumping out to a game-high 10-point lead. Despite Texas’ hot start, the Huskies remained calm and collected knocking down timely shots in response to scoring surges by the Longhorns. As the first half rolled along, Azura Stevens play off the bench for UConn (16 points) along with Texas senior Ariel Atkins having to sit with two fouls allowed the Huskies to chip away at the deficit and ultimately go into the locker room with a 39-38 lead.
UConn continued their strong shooting performance throughout the third quarter opening up a six-point lead on the Longhorns. However, a big performance from Jatarie White in the quarter (8 points, 3 rebounds) kept the game within reach heading into the fourth quarter. Both teams scrapped for baskets throughout the remaining ten minutes of back-and-fourth basketball. Texas had an opportunity to tie the game in the final minute, but Lashann Higgs baseline floater came up short. Free throws ultimately decided the game giving the Huskies a hard-fought victory on the road.
The Texas performance and effort on the defensive end was profound holding UConn to a season-low in total points (75) and total rebounds (30). Despite their hot start, the Longhorns struggled to find their scoring touch shooting just 1-for-13 from behind-the-arc and 8-for-14 from the free throw line in the final three quarters.
Impressively, the Huskies were able to pull out a victory playing just a six-player rotation that included two players recording 40 minutes of playing time. UConn’s length and athleticism made it difficult for the Texas guards to getting many open looks throughout the game. However, a lack of depth / strength inside opened the door for the Longhorns to grab 14 offensive rebounds resulting in 16 second chance points.
Playing a season-high 40 minutes on Monday night, Brooke McCarty’s full array of skills were showcased against the top team in the country. McCarty’s ability to finish around the rim is uncanny given her small size – especially with the score close late in the game. Additionally, McCarty pulled out a bevy of effective off ball / dribble moves that kept the defense on their heels all game.
Although stricken with foul trouble for much of the first half, Ariel Atkins was a pivotal factor in keeping the Longhorns in a position to potentially steal a win against the No. 1 team. Her ability to hit shots when her team needs a bucket was on display Monday night hitting multiple isolation jumpers from near the elbow to keep the Longhorns close. Atkins is the vocal leader of this Texas team whether she is on the court or the sideline.
Katie Samuelson played a big role in keeping UConn within striking distance in the first half as the Longhorns were blitzing the Huskies offensively. Samuelson knocked down three shots from behind-the-arc in the first half – all from near the top of the circle. Guarded by Texas’ best defender(s) for much of the game, Samuelson’s ability to work off ball was impressive as she is a solid screener and cutter. Her off ball movement ultimately led to multiple scoring opportunities at the rim. She is a long, athletic wing player who has the ability to guard multiple positions.
One of the top players in college basketball, UConn’s Gabby Williams ended Monday’s game with nine points, six assists and 11 rebounds. The senior guard has fantastic body control and excellent court vision. She also has the confidence to pull up for a shot at any moment. Williams is a top-level athlete that can get to the rim at any moment.
Texas (14-3) will travel to Lubbock to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders this coming Saturday. UConn (16-0) will head back home to host Tulsa on Thursday.
This article was written by Justin Ullestad, a correspondent and scout for NetScouts Basketball. You can follow us on Facebook, or on twitter. We are looking for those interested in our basketball scout certification program. For information contact us and forward your resume.