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No. 19 Texas Longhorns dominate Lamar behind Collier's strong performance

By Mark Rosner
American-Statesman Correspondent
Texas forward Charli Collier scored 28 points in the Longhorns' blowout win over Lamar on Tuesday at the Erwin Center.

Opponents usually try to suffocate Charli Collier, convene a committee of defenders around her as she angles to receive the ball from her Longhorns teammates and attempts to score.

On Tuesday, the Texas center had a little more room to breathe, some space to operate around the basket. Working largely against single coverage much of the game, Collier took advantage with 28 points as the No. 19 Longhorns defeated Lamar 77-49.

Collier, a 6-foot-5 junior, converted 10 of 13 field goal attempts against defenders in the 5-11 to 6-2 range. She hit 8 of 9 free throws, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked three shots, all of it in 33 minutes.

Despite all of the attention by defenders, Collier began the day averaging 24 points a game, including a career-best 44 against North Texas. Even so, she enjoyed that extra room to work against Lamar.

“It’s so freeing,” Collier said. “Nothing’s ever easy for me, but things were more open and available.”

Freshman DeYona Gaston scored 18 points and grabbed 10 rebounds, both season bests, in a 27-minute display of skill, athleticism and determination. She made two blocks. Joanne Allen-Taylor scored 12. 

The Longhorns (7-1) have played in front of small crowds this season, but on Tuesday fans were not allowed into the Erwin Center, a result of increased COVID-19 precautions. 

“Somebody said we sold 1,500 season tickets. We have not had 500 at a game that I’m aware of,” coach Vic Schaefer said. “It was more like a closed scrimmage. But it’s what’s necessary right now.”

Fans were not the only ones who missed the action. Guard Celeste Taylor was on the sideline for a third straight game with an injured right foot. Forward Audrey Warren was out because of concussion protocol. Schaefer said he does not know if Taylor and Warren will receive clearance to return against Iowa State on Sunday at the Erwin Center.

Center Lauren Ebo also missed the game, and was not at the Erwin Center, for an undisclosed reason. Guard Shay Holle was in uniform but did not play until the third quarter. She missed the last two days of practice, for an undisclosed reason.

Schaefer has an unwritten rule that players who do not practice the day before a game will not play, but he needed the help, especially after Allen-Taylor suffered leg cramps and temporarily left the game. Schaefer broke his own rule for Holle.

“I’ve never done that before,” Schaefer said. “But I had to protect some kids.”

Overall, Schaefer was not pleased with the Longhorns. They committed 16 turnovers, including five by freshman point guard Ashley Chevalier, all in the first half. Schaefer was not impressed with Chevalier or veteran point guard Kyra Lambert.

Lamar (1-7) committed 23 turnovers and shot a pedestrian 40.8 percent — Sabria Dean scored 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting —   but Schaefer said the Texas defense was sub-standard.

“We didn’t play well,” Schaefer said. “We’re not playing well. We’re a little soft in some areas. We’ve got to toughen up.”