AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Brady Sanders doesn’t play a lot anymore for the Texas Longhorns. Off-season foot surgery and an influx of talent to the program have diminished her role on the nation’s No. 8 team.
But when the Longhorns needed a boost Wednesday night, she was there for them. The senior guard scored a season-best 12 points, including four straight in the fourth quarter, helping Texas defeat Kansas State 58-51.
Texas (23-2, 12-2 Big 12) overcame a 14-point third-quarter deficit. Sanders made two free throws and a putback on consecutive possessions to give Texas a 47-43 lead with four minutes remaining. Kansas State never caught up.
Sanders averaged 30 minutes a game in 2014-15. She plays fewer than 10 minutes a game this season. Even so, she said it’s not difficult to prepare for the times she is needed.
“I’m a senior,” Sanders said. “This is really all the basketball I have left. Whether it’s reps in practice or minutes in the game, I value them the same.”
The Longhorns won despite converting only 1 of 16 3-point shots. Ariel Atkins and Imani Boyette scored 10 apiece for Texas. Breanna Lewis led Kansas State (16-9, 6-8) with 20 points, but she scored only two in the second half. Megan Deines added 10.
Kansas State led 27-18 at halftime, limiting Texas to its lowest point production in a half this season. Texas had twice as many turnovers – 12 – as baskets.
Boyette, Empress Davenport and Celina Rodrigo, all experienced seniors, committed three turnovers each in the half.
“It was a tough game for us in a lot of ways until we got our blood flowing,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “I thought the first quarter, or first half, we played anxious, not confident.”
Kansas State stretched the lead to 14 early in the third quarter with a 3-point basket by Kindred Wesemann. Then Texas started its comeback, finishing the period with a 21-7 push to tie the game. Atkins scored eight points for Texas during that run.
The Wildcats committed 13 turnovers in the second half, when Texas applied some full-court defensive pressure.
“They got us sped up,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. “We made some poor decisions.”
Lewis hit 8 of 11 shots in the first half while guarded inside by either Boyette or Kelsey Lang. Texas held her without a field goal in the second half. Lang was the primary defender, and she received help from teammates who convened around Lewis.
“I thought (Lang) she was more physical with me and tried to get in my head more to keep me off my game,” Lewis said. “More forearm pushing, trying not to give me the position I wanted.”
Kansas State: Guard Kindred Wesemann scored only six points for Kansas State, seven fewer than her average. She missed 10 of 12 shots.
Texas: Senior center Imani Boyette blocked just one shot — she averages 3.4 — but that was good enough for her to take over sixth place among active players in the NCAA career rankings. … Texas has 12 Big 12 victories for first time since 2004-05. … The Longhorns have won five of their last six games against Kansas State.
RECOGNIZING A MILESTONE
This season Texas became the fifth women’s basketball program to reach 1,000 victories. To recognize that achievement the Longhorns are honoring the three predecessors to current coach Karen Aston, at separate games: Rod Page, Hall of Famer Jody Conradt and Gail Goestenkors. First up, on Wednesday, was Goestenkors, who resigned in 2012 after five seasons and 102 victories. Goestenkors, who led Duke to four NCAA Final Four appearances before coaching at Texas, has worked as an assistant coach in the WNBA after leaving Texas and is now an analyst with the SEC Network. She has not ruled out returning to college. “Right now I have no plans,” Goestenkors said. “I see life as an adventure. I’m open to whatever might come my way.”
Kansas State hosts Texas Tech on Sunday.
Texas hosts West Virginia on Sunday.