McCarty, Atkins lead No. Texas past Oklahoma 79-66
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Before Texas’ senior night game, Brooke McCarty’s grandmother, Cindy Deville, performed a stirring version of the National Anthem.
McCarty dabbed tears from her eyes.
”But not during the game,” McCarty later said. ”There was just happiness.”
Indeed, McCarty and fellow senior Ariel Atkins were too busy repeating something they have done so many other times during their four seasons at Texas: lead the Longhorns to victory.
McCarty scored 17 points, Atkins added 15, helping No. 7 Texas beat Oklahoma 79-66 on Tuesday night in the final regular season game for both teams.
The two guards contributed in other areas well. Atkins produced seven rebounds, six assists and four steals. McCarty had six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
McCarty, who converted 3 of 6 3-pointers, has hit 16 of 25 in her last four games after a snapping a long slump.
Junior Lashann Higgs pitched in 16 points.
Texas (24-5, 15-3 Big 12) is 104-30 since Atkins and McCarty joined the program.
Coach Karen Aston doesn’t even want to consider life without those two.
”It will be weird,” Aston said. ”These guys were impact from players from the second they arrived.”
Vionise Pierre-Louis led Oklahoma (16-13, 11-7) with 19 points. Shaina Pellington and Ana llanusa, both candidates for Big 12 freshman of the year, scored 15 and 14 points for the Sooners.
Atkins tweaked her ankle while landing after making a jump shot with 6:35 left in the third quarter. She went straight to the bench but returned less than two minute later and made a 3-point basket and an assist before the period ended.
Texas made an 8-0 push during the final 1:42 of the first half to take a 40-32 lead. Atkins led the surge with two baskets, an assist and a steal that led to a fast-break layup by Higgs for the final points of the half.
”Ariel Atkins, I told her, `I toyed with sending you flowers today, because your career is almost over,”’ Oklahoma coach Sherri Coale said. ”I just think she’s phenomenal. She’s a competitor, she’s skilled and athletic. When her team needs something, she rises up.”
Oklahoma: The Sooners, who won six of their previous seven games, were hoping to accomplish something Iowa State did last season: beat Texas on senior night to help ensure their chances of an invitation to the NCAA Tournament. Oklahoma has the No. 2 ranked strength of schedule in the country but is 2-9 against Associated Press top-25 teams. Iowa State used a 70-66 win at Texas last season to finish 9-9 in the Big 12 and get to the NCAAs. Coale thinks the Sooners deserve a spot in the tournament.
”We played the No. 2 toughest schedule in the country. We have a top-30 RPI,” Coale said. ”I don’t even think it’s a conversation. I’m very confident.”
Texas: Though the Longhorns celebrated senior night for three players before their final regular season game, they are almost surely to make at least one more appearance at home. The top 16 seeded teams in the NCAA Tournament are host schools for first and second-round games. In addition to its No. 7 ranking this week in the poll, Texas is No. 11 in the RPI computer rankings.
TEXAS STARTER STILL SIDELINED
Senior Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, a starting forward and key interior defender for Texas, missed her fifth straight game after undergoing minor surgery to her left wrist. Caron-Goudreau could play again this season, but she does not know when.
”It’s a day to day process,” Caron-Goudreau said. ”I’m getting the basic function in my hand back.”
Caron-Goudreau averages six points and five rebounds a game and leads the Longhorns with 37 blocked shots.
Both teams will play in the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City, which begins on Friday. Texas and Oklahoma have first round byes and will not play until Saturday.