The Texas Lady Longhorns traveled all the way to Tallahassee on short rest, played a 50-minute, double-overtime game last night, and came out 92-88 winners over the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles.
Did you watch? I admit I meant to and forgot. So today I’m committing, for the next few weeks, to relegate the men’s squad to second-affection status and hop on the Lady Longhorn bandwagon.
The women’s hoops program has been in the wilderness for years, much like the men’s team. Similar to the boys, they’ve had some seasons with promise but have not reached the heights of the ‘00s for a long time.
But after two road wins over top-10 teams in the span of a week — with a home beatdown of Kansas sandwiched in between wins at Baylor and FSU — Texas has now won 19 in a row to run their record to 21-4. That’s the second-longest streak in D-I (I know UConn just won their 100th in a row, so it’s a distant second, but still).
They’ve gotten there with both the tangible and the intangible. Texas is shooting 46 percent from the field while holding opponents to 35 percent, shooting a solid 35 percent from three-point range, scoring 75 points per game, and out-rebounding opponents by about 12 per game.
The Lady ‘Horns also showed the intangible side last night.
The West Virginia-Kansas men’s game and the Texas-FSU women’s game were mirror images.
In Lawrence, KU mounted a furious comeback to force overtime, whose result — a Jayhawk victory — felt like a foregone conclusion.
In Tallahassee, it was the Longhorns who led by three with under five seconds to play when FSU hit a clutch trey to send the game to overtime.
On the road, headed to overtime with your host holding all the momentum usually spells a tough loss. Texas had a chance to win at the end of the first overtime and couldn’t hit the shot. Again, in most cases that’s a valiant effort that comes up short.
But the Longhorns found it in them to push for five more minutes, clinching the four-point victory after Florida State failed to hit a layup that would have brought them within one and was forced to foul.
Point guard Brooke McCarty was the hero. The team’s leading scorer, she played all 50 minutes and dropped in a career-high 29 points. But what’s fun about the Lady ‘Horns is how evenly the team distributes the glory.
Texas has three players — McCarty, Ariel Atkins, and Joyner Holmes — averaging double-digit points per game and another two averaging over five. That balance has led the Lady Longhorns to where they are now.
Put simply, head coach Karen Aston has the women playing at the level of a Final Four contender. They’re nearly certain to play the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament at home, where they are 13-1 on the year — so at the very least, a Sweet Sixteen appearance looks likely.
There’s no reason to believe Texas can’t make a deep run, as the four losses this season have all come against top-10 opponents: at Stanford, at Mississippi State, at home against South Carolina, and at UConn.
They haven’t lost in 2017 and have four more games before the postseason.
They’re worth your time.