Bodies were flying Monday night in Palo Alto, California, as No. 8 Texas fell to No. 11 Stanford in its season opener.
Both teams committed sufficient turnovers and personal fouls throughout the game, but most of the physicality came from Stanford junior guard Brittany McPhee. The Longhorns couldn’t find an answer for McPhee, who led the Cardinal with a career-high 28 points and seven rebounds.
“I was trying to find somebody that could slow McPhee down,” head coach Karen Aston said in a radio call after the game. “From an intellectual standpoint, we did not play very good tonight.”
Senior forward Erica McCall, Stanford’s leading scorer from last season, was a force at both ends of the court while collecting 17 points and five rebounds. But McCall’s biggest presence came on the defensive end as she notched five blocks in the first half and six on the night.
The Cardinal shot 54.9 percent from the field as they cruised to the basket with ease and knocked down buckets from the perimeter.
“We definitely have to have a much better defensive effort,” Aston said. “That was as poor of a defensive effort as we’ve had in a long time.”
The Longhorns had a slight upper hand in the first quarter, closing the period with a 5-0 run and a buzzer-beater to take a 18-17 lead. But foul trouble and missed free throws plagued the burnt orange throughout the remainder of the contest. Texas went 1-7 from the free-throw line in the first half, a stat that Aston said hurt the team’s confidence moving forward.
With 6:07 left in the second quarter, Stanford went on a 16-5 run and never looked back. The team took a 35-29 lead into the half.
At the beginning of the second half, back-to-back three pointers from junior guards Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty prompted some Texas momentum, but it wasn’t enough. Atkins finished with 14 points, four steals and shot 3-6 from beyond the arc before fouling out in the game’s final minutes. McCarty shot 8-20 from the field to lead Texas with 20 points and five rebounds in her team-high 38 minutes on the court.
Freshman forward Joyner Holmes got caught up in early foul trouble but came out aggressively in the second half to finish with three points and three rebounds in her much-anticipated Texas debut.
Aston said the team showed the necessary effort in the loss. However, she said she believes the team’s lack of discipline was its ultimate downfall.
“We played just not very smart and very undisciplined,” Aston said. “We need to not worry as much about our opponents as much as we need to worry about us.”
The Longhorns return to Austin for their home-opener against Houston Baptist on Wednesday at 11 a.m.