If anyone missed Brooke McCarty’s first rainbow three-pointer of the fall, chances are they saw the replay on the Erwin Center’s new video system.
Fans caught a glimpse of the Longhorn women’s basketball team during a 99-36 exhibition victory over Oklahoma City University Sunday afternoon at the Erwin Center. They were also exposed to $4.25 million in renovations at the arena, including a replay monitor worthy of the second-ranked team in the country.
Ariel Atkins, Lashann Higgs, Jatarie White, Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau and McCarty had their eyes fixed on a team video before being introduced as UT’s starting five. Each of the four screens measure 23 feet by 12.5 feet, creating a better experience for fans and players alike.
Coach Karen Aston, for one, enjoyed the renovations.
“The fan experience is very important,” the sixth-year coach said. “If you go to a WNBA game it looks like a party, it looks like a carnival. … We have a team that’s very entertaining.”
As for the game, fans were engaged on a team with great potential. Led by White’s 17 points and nine rebounds, every player on the roster got significant playing time.
McCarty scored 16 points, connecting on three of her shots behind the arc. Higgs was aggressive on both ends of the court, scoring 14 points and dishing out four assists.
Higgs, a junior, said she wants to take on a new role this year.
“I would like to take on the role of Brianna Taylor,” Higgs said, referring to the former Longhorn who was named Big 12 defensive player of the Year last season. “I want to be a defensive stopper.”
Aston said Higgs volunteered for that role during a recent team meeting.
“There’s always someone who wants to shut down (an opponent) or just make her life miserable all day,” Aston added.
After a sluggish start, the Longhorns showed “good energy,” Aston said. Texas ran off a 30-0 scoring spurt in the second half, holding the scoreless for 13 minutes, 37 seconds.
McCarty, the Big 12’s reigning player of the year, might have a new role too. Instead of leading the show as a point guard, look for the 5-4 senior to look for her shot more.
“When the lights come on, Brooke knows it’s her time,” Aston said. “I told the coaches today I won’t care if Brooke’s arm falls off (from shooting more).”
McCarty, overhearing her coach’s comments, shrugged, saying, “I’ll just do what the team needs me to do.”
Freshman guard Destiny Littleton showed why she averaged 45 points a game during her senior season at The Bishop’s School in La Jolla, Calif., connecting on her first two three-pointers as a Longhorn, finishing with 11 points. Fellow freshman Rellah Boothe had an impressive college opener, scoring 9 points while collecting a team-best 10 rebounds.
Junior forward Olamide Aborowa showed strength in the paint on defense, blocking two shots in a 10-second span in the second quarter.
Notes: Freshman guard Chasity Patterson (coach’s decision) sophomore guard Alecia Sutton (undisclosed medical issue) and sophomore forward Jada Underwood (ankle) did not play. … The Longhorns will play Stetson in the regular-season opener Sunday at the Erwin Center.