AUSTIN, Texas -- Victory, Texas asserted, must come through the paint.
The Texas Women’s Basketball defeated Kansas State 59-40 on Saturday afternoon at the Frank Erwin Center, and the Longhorns scored 34 of their points in the paint.
Generally every valuable offense possession for UT, which shot 44 percent for the game, resulted from at least one post touch.
Nneka Enemkpali and Imani McGee-Stafford each produced double-doubles for the Longhorns, and it was Enenkpali with her ball in the hands and the shot clock dwindling as the Wildcats had just cut UT’s late second-half lead to 11.
Enemkpali flung a pass to Empress Davenport, alone on the wing, and she sunk the jumper with 3:41 remaining.
“When they started doubling in, we were able to throw it back out,” said Chassidy Fussell, who scored 10 on 4-of-11 shooting. “It was a great inside-out game.”
Enemkpali recorded her ninth double-double of the season with 20 points and 16 rebounds, and McGee Stafford scored 18 to go along with 11 rebounds. Enemkpali and McGee-Stafford combined to take 26 of UT’s 55 field goals.
“It was sort of like the Red Sea had parted and any shot those two wanted, by and large, they got,” said Kansas State coach Deb Patterson. “So, we were spread and we allowed too many one-on-one isolations with the size mismatch. You're not going to win a lot of those battles. Those two got their confidence and got a lot of touches. Once they felt like they could score and they were going to get those touches, they really capitalized.”
The Wildcats led by as many as nine in the first half. After hitting 16 3-pointers in a victory over ranked Oklahoma State earlier in the week, KSU hit its first three attempts from beyond the arc against UT.
UT however held KSU to just four points in the final 8:39 of the first half, and then Wildcats made just four field goals in the final 20 minutes of play.
The Longhorns outscored KSU 35-14 in the second half.
“Initially we thought we had to play safe to guard penetration,” UT head coach Karen Aston said. “Once we realized we could put pressure on the ball and extend their defense more, they carried that over in the second half really well.
Aston emphasized the importance of preparation and teamwork.
“We played as a team, we shared the ball really well, and team defense was terrific,” Aston said. “We had one of our best practices yesterday and seeing them rewarded for that preparation is great.”