No. 10 Texas stuns No. 6 Stanford, 87-81, in overtime

STANFORD, Calif. – Just three days after they defeated the No. 1 team in the nation, No. 6 Stanford (2-1) fell to an energized No. 10 Texas (2-0), 87-81. While guard play was key in the win for the Longhorns, their post players gave Texas the rebounding edge and 34 points in the paint to the Cardinal’s 24.

“I’m really proud of our basketball team,” said head coach Karen Aston about beating a higher-ranked opponent on the road. “Obviously this is a really tough place to play and Stanford is a great team.”

Texas seemed much more in sync from the outset than Stanford.

“I thought we really played well together and played for each other,” said Aston about her team’s overall performance.

While Stanford appeared to tire out late in the game, especially during overtime, perhaps fatigue after beating UConn Monday, Texas players were energetic and revved up from the tip to the final buzzer in overtime.

“It didn’t look like we had the pep in our step like we needed,” said Stanford head coach Tara VanDerveer. “Credit to Texas. I thought they were extremely aggressive and had more energy than we did. They didn’t back down. They did a great job going inside to Nneka [Enemkpali]. They did a great job going inside to [Kelsey] Lang. Their passing was really good. They had a lot of different people contributing.”

In previous years, the Longhorns have not displayed the level of endurance and conditioning they showcased Thursday. Aston attributes the ability of her team to maintain an uptempo pace to evaluations she made of players last spring with the program’s strength coach Shaun McPerson and the conditioning work players completed.

During the game, Texas took the lead early on at 17:10 in the first half and stretched the margin to double-digits at 6:10, leading 29-19. Each time Stanford appeared to have some momentum to close in on Texas, the guards of the Longhorns would race back down the court to score or dish it to their post players inside.

Stanford had a difficult time matching the pace of guards Empress Davenport, Ariel Atkins and Celina Rodrigo to make significant inroads before the half ended. At the break Texas led 43-37.

At the beginning of the second half, it appeared Stanford guard Amber Orrange was going to lead her team to trump Texas but that was not the case. Just like in the first half, Texas had an answer for every Stanford basket and more. Trading baskets with the Longhorns was a futile exercise for the Cardinal and they did not have any significant defensive stops to help them build momentum until late in the game.

Sophomore guard Lili Thompson made a driving layup after a steal by fellow second-year guard Karlie Samuelson to make it a one-point contest, 71-70 at 3:42. At 1:56 Orrange stole the ball, passed to Thompson who dished it to Bonnie Samuelson. The Thompson assist resulted in a three-point basket from Samuelson and the Cardinal finally took the lead, 74-73 with 1:43 to go. Texas forward Enemkpali fouled out shortly after Stanford took the lead. She finished with 18 points and five rebounds.

However, even without Enemkpali Texas was undaunted. Davenport ended the regular period with a jumper that sent the game into overtime at 75 all.

Overtime was a close contest with no squad leading by more than two nearly half of the period. Davenport fouled Orrange at 1:28, her fifth personal foul and she went to the bench with 13 points and four rebounds in her stat column.

Texas youth took over and in the last 36 seconds freshman guard Brooke McCarty made a jumper to put her team ahead by four and Stanford had no answers in those last moments.

“They were excited to be in overtime,” said Aston about her team playing the extra period. She commented on the way her team bonded in the last five minutes to earn the win.

“They were the ones that collectively decided that they were going to put their best foot forward in overtime.”

Other Texas players in double figures included Lang who scored 14 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Freshman guard Ariel Atkins contributed 16 points plus four rebounds.

Thompson led Stanford with 28 points plus seven rebounds. Orrange scored 15 points and added four rebound and four assists.

Stanford goes on the road to face New Mexico Monday. Texas finishes up its West Coast road trip at UCLA on Sunday at 3 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.


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