senior guard

Texas junior forward Nneka Enemkapli recorded her 14th career double-double in a 96-42 win over Texas State on Wednesday evening.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

In what head coach Karen Aston called “more of a complete game” than the team’s season opener, Texas beat Texas State 96-42 in the Longhorns’ highest scoring game since 2010. 

Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali combined 8-for-15 shooting from the field with a perfect mark at the line to lead all scorers with 22 points and 17 rebounds. The game marked her 14th career double-double.

“We were playing as more of a collective group tonight and able to put two games together,” Enemkpali said. “In our scrimmages, we play well on offensive but will not quite be there on defense yet, or the other way around. Tonight, we had a better showing putting the two games together.”

Sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford returned to her starting position, and she and senior guard Chassidy Fussell supported Enemkpali’s offensive effort. The duo notched 14 and 15 points respectively. But it was the less conventional stars that brought a twist to the game.

As the clock ticked below a minute remaining in the first half, sophomore guard Celina Rodrigo sunk a three-point shot. Her 15-point effort surpassed her previous season high.

“I took what the defense gave me,” Rodrigo said. “We were able to penetrate a lot because they left the middle open.

But Enemkpali thinks Rodrigo showed more than just a response to lenient defense. She attributes Rodrigo’s performance to maturity and confidence.

“She used to take it personally when coach got onto her and she couldn’t recover,” Enemkpali said. “This year, she has a different swagger and a different confidence that you can see on the court when she’s playing.”

Toward the end of the game, an endearing crowd cheered on senior guard Helen Tau, who stepped onto the charity stripe with 16 seconds left in the game against the Bobcats. Tau never left the sideline last season, not because of poor play, but because she was serving as team manager for the 2012-13 season. But when injuries shortened the roster in the offseason, Aston gave Tau a chance. Tau notched her first collegiate point Wednesday. 

“Last year, [Tau] served on a volunteer basis and her commitment level was phenomenal,” Aston said. “When we didn’t have enough players in practice to scrimmage, Helen has an opportunity to try out and did really, really well.”

Texas resumes play Tuesday at New Mexico at 8 p.m. before returning home for a Nov. 23 matchup against Stanford.

Freshman Shabazz Muhammad drives to the basket against Texas. Muhammad, who is averaging 17.8 points per game this season, will lead his UCLA Bruins team into the Erwin Center for their second round matchup with Minnesota on Friday.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

Game 1- (2) Miami vs. (15) Pacific, 1:10 p.m. TV: TNT

Miami finished its season as the No. 5 team in the nation after winning the ACC regular season and conference tournament titles. Sophomore point guard Shane Larkin is leading the Hurricanes in scoring at 14.6 points per game and is coming off three consecutive 20-point games. The Hurricanes (27-6, 15-3) average just under 11 turnovers per game and, under the guidance of Larkin, have positioned themselves among the nation’s most efficient teams. Pacific (22-12, 13-5), on the other hand, has won seven straight games dating back to Feb. 28 and represents the much smaller Big West Conference. The Tigers have only one player who averages double-digit points per game, but as a team they distribute the ball very well and consistently find space to knock down open shots. Senior guard Colin Beatty is shooting 48.1 percent from three-point range for Pacific. The Tigers don’t rebound the ball exceptionally well and will likely be overmatched by an experienced Miami team that has its sights set on a long tournament run.

Game 2- (7) Illinois vs. (10) Colorado, 3:40 p.m. TV: TNT

Illinois lost four of its last six games, but all of those losses came to teams ranked in the Top 15. The Illini (22-12, 8-10) have knocked off several tournament teams this year, including No. 1 Indiana, Gonzaga and Ohio State. The Buffaloes (21-11, 10-8) also lost three of their last six games and are led in scoring and rebounding by Andre Roberson, a 6-foot-7 junior forward from San Antonio. Roberson averages 10.9 points and 11.3 rebounds per game and has had two games this season in which he grabbed 20 rebounds. Illinois is ranked 218th in the nation in rebounds per game at 33.5. If Roberson can pull down missed shots and convert them into points for his team, the Buffaloes could be on their way to playing the winner of the Miami/Pacific game in the third-round matchup on Sunday.

Game 3- (3) Florida vs. (14) Northwestern State, 6:27 p.m. TV: truTV 

Northwestern State leads the country in scoring, averaging 81 points per game, but the Demons (23-8, 15-3) have not fared well against bigger schools so far this season. Junior forward DeQuan Hicks has made 58.6 percent of his shots for the Demons and leads the team with 14.1 points per game. The Demons have scored 100 or more points five times this year and will be up against one of the nation’s toughest defensive teams in Florida. Opponents are making just 37.7 percent of their field goals against the Gators (26-7, 14-4). The Gators have made the NCAA Tournament in each of the past four seasons, including this one, and last year were knocked out in the Elite Eight by Louisville. Senior guard Kenny Boynton has played more than 1,000 minutes for the Gators this year and is the glue that keeps this team together. The Gators were upset by Ole Miss in the SEC Tournament finals and will be eager to prove they’re a serious title contender.

Game 4- (6) UCLA vs. (11) Minnesota, 8:57 p.m. TV: truTV

UCLA was ousted by Oregon in the Pac-12 tournament championship game last week, but have been playing well behind the resurgent play of freshman Shabazz Muhammad, who is averaging 17.8 points per game. The Bruins (25-9, 13-5) have been forcing their opponents into turnovers and are moving the ball with ease on offense. Senior point guard Larry Drew II has averaged 7.4 assists per game this year. Minnesota (20-12, 8-10) lost seven of its last 10 games, although two wins came against ranked opponents. The Gophers are led by a pair of Hollinses, that is Austin Hollins and Andre Hollins, who share the same last name but are not related. Andre Hollins is the Gophers’ leading scorer at 13.9 points per game and dropped 41 points in a game against No. 19 Memphis earlier this season. UCLA is the more skilled of the two teams, but if Minnesota can keep the game close, it stands a chance at pulling off an upset in the Friday nightcap.

Yvonne Anderson scans the court during Texas win over Texas A&M. Anderson scored a career-high 25 points in her final home game. The senior helped lead UT past the Aggies in the last scheduled meeting between the two teams.

Photo Credit: Ryan Edwards | Daily Texan Staff

If there’s a lesson to take away from the Longhorns’ win over the soon-to-be out of conference Aggies, it’s that senior guard Yvonne Anderson doesn’t mess around on senior night.

Just ask Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair about how important Anderson is to the Longhorns.

“Anderson played like she was playing for [head coach] Gail [Goestenkors] and her mom and dad today,” confessed Blair. “And that was the biggest key in the ball game.”

The night honoring a team’s senior players comes but once in a player’s career, and Anderson wasn’t going to go out without a bang.

She scored a career-high 25 points to go along with nine assists and three steals. Her nine assists helped set the tone of the game as she continually found her teammates in favorable positions on the court.

To commemorate the special night, Yvonne’s father Mike was able to watch his daughter play at Texas for the first time in her four years with the program.

Anderson served as Missouri’s head coach from 2006-2011 and is now head coach at Arkansas.

Anderson’s dominant performance Sunday afternoon proves that the Longhorns can indeed win over elite teams.

The win marks just the first time since 2004 that the Longhorns have swept the regular season conference series with the Aggies. Before the Longhorns’ win over the Aggies in College Station on Jan. 11 the Aggies had won 11 straight games in the series.

“We know that during the season we didn’t do what we needed to be in, and I think with these last three games we were trying to show that we do deserve to be in,” Anderson said.

Texas ends the regular season on a three-game win streak in conference play, its longest streak in the Big 12 this year. In the final three games, Anderson averaged 16.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.6 assists. Her improved play has helped the Longhorns immensely down the stretch and has opened up more scoring opportunities for her teammates.

“I think all the little things that we’ve have been preaching about like pushing the ball, playing with a sense of urgency, executing and taking care of the ball have really helped us in these last three games,” Anderson said.

Now that the regular season is over, the Longhorns conference record is set in stone at 8-10, which isn’t all that impressive at first glance. Dive a bit deeper and it’s easy to see why the Texas staff thinks an at-large bid is all but a lock at this point.

Of course, there’s still the conference tournament to play.

The Longhorns own the No. 8 seed in the conference tournament and will face No. 9 Texas Tech on Wednesday night.

“We know what our goal is: to get into the NCAA Tournament and obviously progress in the tournament,” Anderson said, “We’ve just been working more on the little things and have been attacking the boards more, had more of a sense of urgency, and we’ve hustled harder.”

Ashleigh Fontenette lifts a shot over a Texas Tech defender Wednesday night at the Frank Erwin Center.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

For only the fourth time in her career, senior guard Ashleigh Fontenette recorded a double-double.

It happened to come on a night when the Longhorns desperately needed a conference win against the rival Red Raiders. After winning against Oklahoma State last Saturday, the victory over Texas Tech has Texas enjoying its first win streak in conference play this season. At 5-8 in Big 12 games, the Longhorns still have some work to do if they hope to reach the NCAA tournament, but their most recent win couldn’t have come at a more crucial time.

“Tonight we came out and were not going to lose this game,” Fontenette said. “We kept confidence in each other.”

Fontenette, a Pflugerville native, connected on a career-high nine field goals to the tune of 19 points and added a season-high 10 rebounds, all coming on the defensive end. With her team down four points late in the second half, Fontenette found herself with the ball in her hands.

“I kept looking at the clock and saying ‘We have seven minutes left,’ so there was no need to rush,” Fontenette said. “Nobody wanted to lose, everybody stepped up big tonight.”

The Longhorns were a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line, but it was the Fontenette’s play that enabled them to rally from multiple deficits throughout the course of the game.

“There was a tremendous determination from Ashleigh the whole game,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “I thought she played like a warrior, she was determined not to lose this game.”

Texas has shown a tendency of starting games slowly, and this game was no exception. Early turnovers from the Longhorns allowed the Red Raiders to jump out in front in the first half.

“That first half was one of the worst halves of the year,” Goestenkors said. “We just kept turning the ball over.”

After the sloppy first half, Fontenette took it upon herself to take better care of the ball.

“Even going into halftime we kept saying ‘As bad as we’re playing we’re still only down two, so it can only get better from here,’” Fontenette said.

Texas outscored Texas Tech 15-0 on fast break points and forced 16 Red Raider turnovers. Fontenette’s 10 defensive rebounds and two steals helped push the tempo, something the Longhorns have been looking to do all season.

“I think that’s a huge part of our game,” Fontenette said. “As guards, we like to get out on the break but it starts with our defense. When we started getting stops it allowed us to push the ball in transition and get easy buckets.”

The Longhorns will now face Kansas State in Manhattan, Kan. Saturday night in hopes of extending their conference winning streak. The Longhorns aren’t taking the Wildcats lightly and are in search of another season split after losing to the Wildcats 64-55 in Austin earlier this month.

“We need to take care of the ball and have as many opportunities to score as possible,” Goestenkors said. “We’ve split [the season series] with the last two teams we’ve played, so we need to go to K-State and get another split.”

Printed on Thursday, February 16, 2012 as: Senior guard paces late run, posts career-best numbers