Statistically-speaking, was Charli Collier’s 44-point game the best in Texas history?
Back in 2009, Texas retired the No. 35 jersey in honor of men’s basketball star Kevin Durant.
That number was not set aside for the Texas women, though. Junior forward Charli Collier, in fact, is two games into her third season wearing 35. Her choice of jersey isn’t a complete coincidence since Durant is her favorite player.
But Collier, a 6-5 all-conference honoree last season, has managed to make No. 35 her own. And in Sunday’s 106-69 home win over North Texas, she accomplished something that Durant never did.
Collier scored 44 points in the lopsided win. That was the fourth-most points ever scored in Longhorns women’s history. It also bested Durant’s highest-scoring game as a Longhorn by seven points.
“I’ve seen lots of performances in 35, 36 years in coaching. That’s certainly one of the most dominant,” said Vic Schaefer, in his first season as Texas’ coach after a highly successful run at Mississippi State.
Against North Texas, Collier sank 14 of her 17 shots. She also hit two 3-pointers and 14 free throws. She was pulled with 5:32 left in the game.
“I feel like the opportunities presented themselves when they did when we executed well offensively,” Collier said. “When someone’s hot, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We just continued to do what we needed to do in order to get the win that day.”
Since its first game in 1974, Texas has had six 40-point performances. Danielle Viglione’s 48 points has been a school record since 1994.
Was Collier’s performance, though, more impressive than the 40-point showings that preceded her? The argument for Sunday’s 40-point game centers on her effectiveness and additional statistics.
Collier’s .824 shooting percentage against North Texas was bested by only Jackie Swaim (.933 against Louisiana-Monroe in 1980) in UT’s 40-point club. Collier also grabbed 16 rebounds; only she and Swaim (15) recorded double-doubles in their 40-point games.
The arguments against Collier? History and stakes.
When Viglione went for 48, she did so while knocking down what was then an NCAA-record 11 3-pointers. Clarissa Davis’ 45-point game at Tennessee on Dec. 9, 1987 was witnessed by nearly 24,000 fans.
Collier’s offensive outburst also came against a North Texas team that last reached the NCAA Tournament in 1986 and was picked to finish eighth in Conference USA’s preseason poll. Of those six UT 40-point performances, only two were recorded in a conference game. Davis is the lone Longhorn to score 40 points against a ranked team.
In the end, it’s hard to argue against Davis, who has her No. 24 jersey retired in March. Jody Conradt, who was UT’s coach for five of those 40-point games, certainly wouldn’t. Tennessee was the country’s top-ranked team and defending national champion when Davis went off. Her performance occurred in Tennessee’s newly-opened Thompson-Boling Arena, and that crowd of 23,912 stood as an attendance record in women’s basketball for more than a decade.
“It was a huge stage and Clarissa lit up that stage on somebody else’s floor with a huge crowd,” Conradt said Tuesday. “That one, I think, has to be No. 1. I don’t know that there will ever be a circumstance like that one again.”
Of Collier, Schaefer said that “she’s got a chance, I think, to be one of the greatest ever here, and there’s been some great ones here y’all. You’re talking about Clarissa Davis, Annette Smith. There’s been some great players here in the history of women’s basketball and this one right here can be a part of that elite group.”
Collier will get her next chance to showcase her skills against Louisiana Tech at the Erwin Center on Wednesday night. After opening its season with wins over McNeese State and Grambling State, Louisiana Tech is 2-0. Ranked 25th in the Associated Press poll, Collier’s Longhorns are also 2-0.
“I think she’s just starting to scratch the surface,” Conradt said. “I expect that to be the kind of performance that she has game after game. The next challenge will be when people start to double-team her and crowd her in the post. … I really believe she has the potential to be as good as any post player in the country.”