Karen Aston is still waiting for her basketball team to play as a cohesive unit for 40 minutes.
The Longhorns certainly failed to deliver a complete game on Saturday. Instead, hot-shooting Iowa State started strong and earned an 82-73 victory over the Longhorns Saturday night in a key Big 12 game.
Iowa State torched the nets early, hitting five of seven behind the 3-point line in the first quarter to take a 27-10 lead. The Longhorns, who once trailed by as many as 20 points, made a scrappy comeback in the second half but this game was over early.
It was a crippling loss for the Longhorns, who fell to 21-8 overall, 11-6 in the Big 12. Iowa State most likely earned a No. 2 seed in the Big 12 Tournament while improving its record to 22-7, 12-5.
Aston said the Longhorns might have lost the game on Friday — in practice.
“We had a good day of practice on Wednesday and then you have a bad one (on Friday),” she said. “It flows like that in games. We’ll play good for a quarter and then we let up the next quarter. That’s been the personality of this team that I have not been able to fix. As a coach, I understand it’s my responsibility. It’s been our Achilles heel that when we don’t practice consistently we don’t play consistently.”
Senior Danni Williams, overhearing her coach’s comments, nodded her head in agreement.
“She‘s not lying when she says that,” the graduate transfer said. “It’s on me and the seniors. We need to understand these are our last few games, our last few practices. We’re aware that when we practice bad we don’t play great.”
Texas will complete its Big 12 schedule Tuesday night at TCU.
Iowa State was led by senior guard Bridget Carleton, who contributed 23 points and broke the 2,000-point mark for her career. Freshman guard Ashley Joens scored 22 points and helped the Cyclones get off to a good start by hitting four 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Iowa State led 42-23 at halftime. Texas would get no closer than seven points of the lead in the second half. A bucket by Williams with 38 seconds to play cut the margin to 74-67, but it was too late.
Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly recognized his team’s amazing start. “For 13 or 14 minutes we played about as a good as we can play.”
Fennelly said the Cyclones played with “pace and purpose” while building its big lead. On the other end of the floor, the Longhorns never found an offensive groove, hitting just 36.8 percent of its shots (25-for-68) for the game.
Fennelly said simple math dictated the outcome. Iowa State hit 12 3-pointers, Texas three.
The loss spoiled Senior Night for the Longhorns. Before the game seniors Olamide Aborowa, Jatarie White and Williams were honored for their last appearance at the Erwin Center.
There were problems once the game started. Joyner Holmes and White got into early foul trouble for the second straight game, and the Cyclones raced to a lead with UT’s front-court players on the bench.
Texas guard Sug Sutton played well offensively, finishing with a team-high 21 points. Williams contributed 15 and Holmes 13 in defeat. Holmes fouled out with just over two minutes to play.