Brooke McCarty impressed the crowd with a career-high 22 points and for running into a cameraman while hustling for a loose ball in the second half.
In the season-opener for 12th-ranked Texas, McCarty was the game’s outstanding player — with her shooting stroke and tenaciousness on the floor.
All five starters scored in double figures as the Longhorns pounded UTSA 90-53 before 2,596 Saturday night at the Erwin Center.
McCarty, a sophomore, hit 8 of her 13 shots from field — 4-of-6 behind the arc. She also contributed 7 rebounds and 4 assists.
“Brooke doesn’t look like a lost freshman any more,” coach Karen Aston said. “I don’t think any of our sophomores do. Brooke, in particular, looks like she knows what she’s doing.”
Aston said she felt “anxiety this week” while wondering who to put in the starting line. She was complemented by starters Kelsey Lang (12 points, 6 boards), Imani Boyette (11 points, 10 rebounds), Empress Davenport (11 points, 6 assists), and Celina Rodrigo (11 points).
McCarty, unaware she had set a new high in points, said one season in the books made a big difference.
“At this time last year I didn’t even know the plays,” the 5-4 shooting guard said.
UTSA coach Lubomyr Lichonczak said Texas appears to be “a much more confident team” than the Longhorns he faced last year.
“I think going to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA Tournament probably helped them with confidence,” the coach said.
Lichonczak said his team needed “four more players like Alexus” Dukes, a freshman who scored a team-high 18 points. The Harker Heights graduate canned 6 of her 9 shots behind the arc and added 6 points.
Davenport opened the season with a splash, nailing a three-pointer just 15 seconds into the game.
Curiously, UT’s first five field-goals came behind the three-point arc — three by McCarty and one apiece for Davenport and Boyette.
Aston substituted freely throughout the game, looking for units that blend well together. The starting lineup of McCarty, Boyette, Davenport, Rodrigo and Lang — three seniors, a junior and a sophomore — blended well together as Texas led 26-14 after and 44-21 at halftime.
While they took turns helping UT take a big league, freshman Lashann Higgs — the Big 12 Preseason Player of the Year — appeared tight in her college debut, missing all seven of the first-half shots from the field. She scored her first bucket with 4:47 left in the third quarter and finished with 11 points and 4 steaks.
“She saw the lights,” Aston said, referring to her first game as a Longhorn.
Freshman Jordan Hosey helped Texas earn a 57-35 edge in rebounds, garnering 8 boards
That starting five would combine for 67 of UT’s 90 points, 27 of UT’s 57 rebounds and 12 of the team’s 13 assists.
Texas won the battle inside the paint 30-8, second-chance points (26-9) and fast-break points (11-0).
“The effort was tremendous tonight,” Aston said. “They didn’t take any plays off, as far as effort goes.”
Texas returns to the Erwin Center at 11 a.m. Wednesday against Northwestern State for its annual game with roughly 5,000 elementary school kids in attendance.
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