4:00 PM ET, November 14, 2004
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- If Texas' new motion offense is going to work like this all the time, coach Jody Conradt may wonder why she didn't put it in years ago.Texas (No. 3 ESPN./USA Today, No. 2 AP) shot 63 percent and got outstanding offensive balance in beating No. 21 Penn State 84-69 in the Tip-Off Classic on Sunday."I thought we handled our offense better than we thought we might," said Conradt, who's starting her 29th season at Texas and won her 848th game. "Against a really good team, the first time we've really been challenged, I thought our decision-making was really good for a first outing."Mercedes Williams, a senior who averaged just 2.5 points in his first three years, had career highs of 15 points and nine rebounds to lead Texas, which shot 70 percent (19-for-27) in the first half.Tiffany Jackson also scored 15 after sitting out most of the opening half, Coco Reed added 12 and Heather Schreiber and Jamie Carey 11 apiece.Texas went to a new look on offense after losing standout center Stacy Stephens to graduation. Instead of looking first to the low post, the Longhorns are playing faster and trying to do more from the perimeter."I think our offense was a lot better," said Carey, the team's point guard. "There definitely were moments where it actually looked like an offense. A couple of exhibition games, we looked a little shaky. I think we're all getting comfortable with the offense and know what we're looking for."Tanisha Wright and Jess Strom combined for all but 21 of Penn State's points, Wright finishing with a career-high 30 and Strom 18. The Lady Lions, also playing their opener, whittled a 20-point deficit to 10 with 4:44 remaining but managed only one point the rest of the way."Our defense let us down," Penn State coach Rene Portland said. "Jess and Tanisha had to take a broad load on their shoulders. We need to go home and work on defense. We mainly gave up easy shots in the post and on second attempts."Jackson and Schreiber, the Longhorns' top two returning scorers, each had only two points in the first half, yet the Longhorns led 50-35. Jackson picked up two fouls in the first 3:28 and sat out the rest of the half, while Schreiber was limited to three shots in 14 minutes.But Carey made all four of her shots in the opening half, including three 3-pointers, while Reed came through with 10 points and Williams nine. Williams shot 4-for-5 in the first half and finished 7-for-8.Jackson got it going in the second half. She hit two straight baskets inside and Schreiber made a 3-pointer from the left wing in a 7-0 run that gave the Longhorns a 57-37 lead.Texas then answered whenever Penn State threatened. After the Lady Lions drew to 70-59 on Amanda Brown's rebound shot, Jackson converted a three-point play off a drive and Schreiber's block led to a layup by Kala Bowers.Penn State came back again, cutting the lead to 78-68 on Wright's high-arching shot. Carey then hit Williams cutting to the basket for a layup and Texas pulled away."It was frustrating," Wright said. "We didn't buckle down and get a stop. There's plenty of times it was 10 or 11 points and we needed a stop, but they scored and it pretty much snowballed."
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