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No. 25 Texas 84, Louisiana Tech 57: Longhorns roll but team’s effort leads to a postgame rebuke

Paced by the play of juniors Charli Collier and Audrey Warren, Texas strolled to an 84-57 win over Louisiana Tech at the Erwin Center on Wednesday.

With the victory, Texas improved to 3-0 in Vic Schaefer’s first year with the Longhorns. UT has yet to hit the road this season and it has beaten its three guests — SMU, North Texas and Louisiana Tech — by an average of 34.3 points.

“It’s always good to get a win on your home court. You don’t want to lose here,” UT guard Joanne Allen-Taylor said. “There’s some things we did well like we forced a lot of turnovers, but there’s a lot of things that we could have did better.”

In his postgame press conference, Schaefer wasn’t in a celebratory mood. Don’t get the coach wrong, he’ll take a 27-point win. Still, Schaefer was displeased by Texas’ effort on Wednesday. Of Louisiana Tech, Schaefer said “those kids played harder than we did tonight. That’s a hard pill to swallow for me. That’s my responsibility, and I wear it.”

Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters guard Amber Dixon (10) drives the ball as Texas Longhorns guard Audrey Warren (31) tries to defend in second quarter of an NCAA college basketball game at the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday, December. 2, 2020, in Austin, Texas.   [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]

Despite Schaefer’s complaints, Texas never trailed on Wednesday. The lone tie only lasted until Collier scored the game’s first points.

Led by eight forced turnovers and Celeste Taylor’s six points, Texas built a 22-11 lead in the first quarter. Taylor, however, left the court after a last-second tussle with Louisiana Tech’s Robyn Lee for a loose basketball. The sophomore guard did not play in the second quarter. But while Taylor sat, Collier once again stood tall.

The 6-5 Collier scored 12 points during a second quarter that saw Louisiana Tech tally 13 points as a team. Playing three days after she scored 44 points against North Texas — the fourth-highest total in school history — Collier also snagged five rebounds in the second quarter.

Louisiana Tech trailed by as many as 32 points after halftime. Collier fouled out with 6:43 left but still led the Longhorns with her 22 points and eight rebounds. Taylor added 14 points. UT also got 10-point contributions from Allen-Taylor and DeYona Gaston.

With 19 points on 20 shots, Warren fell just two points shy of matching her top mark at Texas. Warren did distribute six assists for the first time. Her three steals tied a career high.

“You want to have that feeling (that this is your night) every game,” Warren said. “The zone allowed me to find a spot to score.”

On Monday, Texas made its first appearance of the season in the Associated Press’ poll. Thus far, college basketball’s No. 25 team has done what a ranked program should do against inferior competition. SMU was ranked 11th in the American Athletic Conference’s preseason poll. North Texas and Louisiana Tech were picked to finish eighth and ninth in Conference USA.

The competition will quickly get stiffer for the Longhorns. On Sunday night, Texas A&M is set to visit the Erwin Center for the first time since 2012. The Aggies (3-0) are looking down 13 spots at the Longhorns in the AP poll.

“I’m very excited to play A&M,” Warren said. “I haven’t got to play in the rivalry yet so this will be fun.”

Tip-ins: Duke graduate transfer Kyra Lambert played 13 minutes in her Texas debut. Lambert, a 5-9 point guard who had missed the season’s first two games with an undisclosed injury, hit a three-pointer. … Taylor led Texas with her five steals. … Wednesday marked the eighth 20-point game of Collier’s career. … Louisiana Tech shot 40 percent from the floor and was led by Brianna Harris’ 25 points. The Lady Techsters (2-1) also committed 30 turnovers and were held to one fast-break point.