AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas center Imani Boyette has become a target for opponents, a point of emphasis.
But as the 6-foot-7 Boyette struggles on offense, the Longhorns keep winning.
Brooke McCarty had 18 points, and fellow guard Ariel Atkins added 16 and No. 6 Texas beat No. 20 Oklahoma State 70-55 on Wednesday night to sweep the two-game season series for the first time since 2006.
Boyette had nine rebounds and five blocks for Texas (22-1, 11-1 Big 12). Boyette, who leads Texas with nearly 13 points a game, converted only 2 of 8 shots against Oklahoma State. But after she left the game with 5:45 remaining with four fouls, her backup, Kelsey Lang, made consecutive baskets inside to give theLonghorns a 12-point lead.
Indeed, despite the meager two baskets from Boyette, the Longhorns outscored Oklahoma State 40-28 in the paint thanks largely to Lang and driving shots by McCarty and Atkins.
“We have an attacking mindset,” McCarty said.
Boyette scored only 15 points in the last three games. Some of that is attributable to foul trouble. But coach Karen Aston said opponents are defending her aggressively.
“She is being pushed out of her comfort zone,” Aston said. “She has to be a little bit more aggressive.”
Brittney Martin led Oklahoma State (18-5, 8-4) with 21 points. Kaylee Jensen had 15 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Texas beat Oklahoma State by 30 points on Jan. 9 in Stillwater. The Cowgirls shot 28 percent and committed 22 turnovers in that game. They were never competitive, having trailed by 30 at halftime.
On Wednesday, the Cowgirls had six offensive rebounds in the first quarter, turning them into 13 second-chance points. They made three 3-pointers in the period after securing their own missed shots, more 3s than they made in the entire game on Jan. 9.
Texas trailed by six points after the first quarter but used a 10-0 push during the second period to take a 31-27 halftime lead. The Longhorns had to work much of the half without Boyette, who played only 11 minutes because of foul trouble.
The Longhorns made another substantial run, 11-0, to lead by eight after three quarters. McCarty made two baskets and assisted on one by Lang. Atkins hit a 3-pointer and hustled for an offensive rebound that she turned into a layup.
“I thought the difference in the ballgame was the first four or five minutes of the second half,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “We had some breakdowns defensively and they got easy baskets. The (deficit) went from four to 10 and we were trying to dig our way out the rest of the second half.”
Oklahoma State: Brittney Martin leads the Big 12 in scoring and rebounding, the latter an exceptional achievement because she’s a guard, albeit a tall one at 6 feet. Martin has company in that area. Seanna Johnson, Iowa State’s 5-10 guard, ranks third in rebounding. And No. 2? Imani Boyette, the 6-7 Texas center.
Texas: Guard Brianna Taylor missed the game with a sprained left ankle that she suffered at Iowa State on Saturday. Taylor started 18 games this season, averaging 7.7 points and 4.6 rebounds. She leads the team with 35 steals. “I feel comfortable that she’ll be back very soon,” Texas coach Karen Aston said.
IN THE CHASE
By winning, the Longhorns remained tied with Baylor for first place in the Big 12 at 11-1. Karen Aston, theLonghorns’ fourth year coach, said winning her first conference title would be important to the development of the program.
“We talk about winning the league,” Aston said. “It’s a goal. It’s just another step. The seniors talk a lot about leaving a legacy, and they feel like that would be a big piece of it.”
Oklahoma State hosts West Virginia on Saturday.
Texas is at Oklahoma on Sunday.