If the intent of a grueling non-conference schedule was to prepare Texas for Big 12 competition, consider it a success.
At least for a day.
With freshman forward Joyner Holmes dominating the first half and junior guard Brooke McCarty taking over in the second half, No. 16 Texas throttled Texas Tech 67-47 in the league opener Thursday night at the Erwin Center.
The game was as lopsided as the score indicates. Texas had a 42-8 edge in points in the paint, 22-6 in points off turnovers, 16-3 in second-chance points and 18-3 in fast-break points.
When a news reporter told Karen Aston the team appeared to be having fun, she nodded in agreement.
“We had a former player, Annissa Hastings, who’s now a high school coach in San Antonio that played on our Final Four team (in 2003), tell our team before the game to have fun,” Aston said. “That’s why you come here. You play hard, you play every possession, and you have fun.”
The Longhorns (7-4, 1-0) might have benefited from early-season losses against some of the nation’s best teams — UConn, South Carolina, Stanford and Mississippi State. “Half our team had never even played (NCAA) Division I basketball before this year,” said junior guard Ariel Atkins, who contributed 9 points, 8 rebounds and 3 steals.
Aston said the Longhorns had “a different mindset after coming back from the Christmas holidays” and “we’re learning how to practice.”
There was little pressure on the Longhorns after they took an early 6-0 lead on buckets by Brianna Taylor, Atkins and Joyner in the game’s first two minutes. Although the Lady Raiders stayed close early, they never made a serious run at the lead.
Aston singled out Taylor for her all-around performance. The senior forward tallied 10 points, 2 rebounds and 2 steals. She also helped limit Tech’s front-court players Arella Guirantes and Jada Terry to a total of 7 points.
Holmes scored all 10 of her points in the first half on 5-for-5 shooting from the field. McCarty scored 14 of her team-high 16 points in the second half as the Longhorns built a 24-point lead early in the third quarter.
Texas Tech (8-4, 0-1) was led by guard Reece’ Caldwell, who scored 24 points — more than half of Tech’s total tally — while hitting four shots behind the three-point line.
“She’s going to have to have help, no question,” Tech coach Candi Whitaker said. “She played extremely hard, played like she wanted to win. She had that look in her eye. … We were out of sync offensively. We have to get more people involved. Other people have to make shots and make plays.”
Tech scored just five points in the second quarter, just one point more than the team’s record-low of four set last season.
Texas led 30-17 at the break.
This marked the seventh straight victory for Texas over the Lady Raiders. The Longhorns swept the series the last three years.
Texas continues its Big 12 schedule with a couple of road games — Iowa State at noon Sunday and Kansas at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The Longhorns return to the Erwin Center to play TCU on January 7.