No. 23 Texas 73, Idaho 48: Karisma Ortiz charms as Longhorns blow by Idaho
Even though she's been on campus for well over a year, Karisma Ortiz got a chance to properly introduce herself to Texas fans on Wednesday.
Ortiz had a career day in Texas' 73-48 win over Idaho at the Erwin Center. The No. 23 team in the Associated Press' poll, Texas was coming off its first loss of the season. With Big 12 play beginning next week and with Tennessee coming to town on Sunday, the Longhorns improved to 4-1.
After sitting out last season following her transfer from Penn State, Ortiz started three of Texas' first four games this season. She was averaging just 4.5 points, though. On Wednesday, she scored 15 in the first half.
"It's always good to have a bounce-back game like that after a loss specifically," Ortiz said. "You can't get caught up with a loss and turn that into two, into three, into four. It was a good win for us to make sure that we're all on the same page, confident and preparing for our next game versus Tennessee."
If Texas had just counted Ortiz's first half points alone, the Horns still would have led 15-14 at halftime. But they took a 46-14 advantage at the break.
In the first half, Ortiz knocked down three 3-pointers, dished out four assists and had four steals.
"Definitely a confidence booster," she said. "Having to sit out last year definitely hurt me a little bit, messed with my mental (state) a little bit. I think today was good to see a little bit of the work that I put in last year and obviously this year kind of paying off in a game."
Ortiz established career highs in points and steals in the first half. She was limited to eight minutes after halftime because of foul trouble. She fouled out with 3:49 left in the game.
Even though she sat out last season, Ortiz still had a role. She ran with the program's scout team and tried to be the "biggest cheerleader and best teammate that I could be at that time."
UT guard Joanne Allen-Taylor boasted that Ortiz "can shoot the thing." On Wednesday, she got a chance to showcase her skills in front of an audience that wasn't just her teammates. Playing out of position as a 6-foot forward, Ortiz also grabbed three rebounds.
"She's probably our best shooter right now from three, so that's one of the reasons why she's in the lineup today," Texas coach Vic Schaefer said.
Following Sunday's 66-61 loss to Texas A&M, Schaefer expressed his displeasure with a defense that recorded no first-half steals and a 7-for-24 shooting performance from behind the 3-point line. Three days later, Texas picked the Vandals' pockets five times over the first two quarters and knocked down 12 of its 37 3-point tries.
There were still things for Schaefer to nitpick. He said he wasn't happy about UT's foul trouble and second-half effort.
"We have expectations that we have to meet every game," Allen-Taylor said. "If we don't meet them, it's not necessarily (that Schaefer is angry), it's just we've got to do what we've got to do to be great."
Texas split its 3-pointers among five players. Those 12 threes were tied for the third-most in school history. The 37 attempts also were a school record.
One of Wednesday's 3-pointers belonged to Charli Collier, who had 20 points and 11 rebounds in her fourth double-double of the season. Allen-Taylor added 15 points.
Tip-ins: In her first start for Texas, Duke graduate transfer Kyra Lambert knocked down three 3-pointers. ... Idaho (2-1) was led by Beyonce Bea's 13 points. Gabi Harrington, a graduate transfer from Montana and Idaho's leading scorer, did not dress. ... Texas reserve Shay Holle grabbed 10 rebounds.