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Collier scores 44, one of UT’s best games ever, in Texas’ 106-69 romp past North Texas

Mark Rosner / American-Statesman Correspondent

Charli Collier didn’t quite shred a section of the record book on Sunday, but she easily could have.

Texas center Charli Collier (35) calls out to her team as they compete against Kansas State during an NCAA women?s college basketball game in Austin, Saturday, Feb., 22, 2020. [Stephen Spillman for Statesman]

Collier, a junior center, scored a career-best 44 points — the fourth most in Longhorns women’s basketball history — as Texas defeated North Texas 106-69 in front of an announced crowd of 995 at the Erwin Center.

Only Danielle Viglione (48), Annette Smith (46) and Clarissa Davis (45) have scored more points in a game than Collier. Viglione, a guard, left her mark much differently than did Collier, making a school-record 11 3-pointers against Houston in 1994.

The 6-5 Collier converted 14 of 17 field goal attempts and 14 of 15 free throws while grabbing 16 rebounds and making two blocks. Vic Schaefer, her new coach, removed her from the game with 5:32 remaining, unaware that she was close to the record.

“I didn’t find that out until after I took her out,” Schaefer said. “And I wasn’t gonna put her back in. It just doesn’t have a good look to it.”

Then Schaefer laughed, adding “Look, she missed three shots, so she had her chances.”

Collier made good with both of her 3-point attempts, but mostly she excelled by using a height advantage inside. Teammates often found Collier, her arms raised, with sharp passes from the wings or lobs from the high post, where Audrey Warren was stationed.

“I live in the paint,” Collier said. “It makes me a mismatch. We’re using our strength until someone stops it.”

Collier averaged 13.1 points last season. She has totaled 69 in two games this season, albeit against inferior competition from SMU and North Texas. She averaged 3.4 offensive rebounds a game last season; she has totaled 13 against SMU and North Texas (1-1). That helps elevate her scoring, as does an emphasis on getting the ball to her.

“I enjoy making those passes,” Warren said. “It’s good to have someone down there who can catch them.”

Collier wasn’t the only Longhorn who played well. Warren, when she wasn’t feeding Collier, drove and hustled her way to 16 points while performing grunt work like diving on the floor and taking charging fouls.

“I love taking charges,” she said.

Celeste Taylor scored 14 to go with four steals. Joanne Allen-Taylor had 13 points and two steals. Freshman Ashley Chevalier produced 10 points and three steals.

The Longhorns (2-0) attempted only eight 3-point shots, making four, relying instead on hard drives to the basket when they weren’t throwing the ball in to Collier, a strategy that induces fouls. The Longhorns hit 30 of 42 free throws and shot 58% from the field.

Texas did not begin pulling away until the final three minutes of the first half. The Longhorns finished with an 11-2 push for a 46-32 halftime lead.

They showed some deficiencies in the half, missing six layups, committing 11 turnovers and allowing an aggressively driving North Texas to convert half of its shots in the first quarter.

But North Texas missed 11 of 14 shots in the second quarter (21.4%), while Collier was relentless and unstoppable, same as in the first period, finishing the half with 22 points and 11 rebounds. A 38-24 third quarter, with 16 from Collier, left North Texas far behind.

Schaefer said the Longhorns played with a little less energy than they did during a 90-51 win against SMU last  Wednesday.

Even so, Schaefer said, “Now, the third quarter, you come out and pop them and go for 38 points, you’re doing something right.”