FREEPORT, Bahamas (AP) -- The Texas players ran to the court when
the buzzer sounded, jumping, cheering and treating their victory
over South Carolina like a Final Four triumph instead of a
first-round win at the Junkanoo Jam.
"It was exciting to us because we hadn't won like that yet,"
said Nina Norman, one of the few seniors on a team filled with
Two first-year players, Erika Arriaran and Ashley Lindsey, had a
large impact in the No. 18 Longhorns 59-55 victory over the
Arriaran had a team-high 14 points, including the basket that
put Texas (2-1) ahead for good, and Lindsey had a key block down
the stretch to save the Longhorns in a game where star Tiffany
Jackson was saddled with foul problems and scored just eight
Growing pains could be with the Longhorns for a while since
coach Jody Conradt signed seven freshmen, her largest group of
newbies in 30 seasons at Texas.
Norman said the problems of blending so many new players were
evident last week when Texas lost its opener to New Mexico, 76-68.
"It's tough out there. They used to be the best player in high
school where nobody could really touch them," Norman said. "But
now average players are sticking with them. They're learning how to
play the game, but it's a little hard being new."
It looked like things wouldn't do so well for the Longhorns in
this one, either.
South Carolina (2-1) seemed a step quicker at first, taking a
7-point lead in the opening half with Jackson on the bench.
Arriaran helped in the second-half rally with two jumpers in a
10-2 run that put Texas ahead 43-41. Still, the Longhorns trailed
55-52 after Ilona Burgrova's inside shot with 4:26 to go.
That's when Arriaran struck for two more baskets to send Texas
in front, 56-55.
In the final minute, South Carolina had its best chance when
Lauren Simms drove the lane for what looked like an uncontested
basket. But the 6-foot-4 Lindsey got her hand up to stop it.
"That was the shot. That's what we wanted," South Carolina
coach Susan Walvius said.
Lindsey added a free throw and Norman added two for Texas' final
The Longhorns meet George Washington, a 49-47 winner over No. 19
Purdue to start the two-day holiday tournament, on Saturday.
"This win will go a long way to help our team get to a point of
cohesiveness and the kind of chemistry that we need," Conradt
South Carolina will face the Boilermakers on Saturday.
Norman had 13 points for the Longhorns, while Lindsey had eight
points, 10 rebounds and five blocks
Jackson finished with eight points on 4-of-9 shooting. Conradt
tried everything she could think of to get her best player going,
even drawing a technical foul in the second half as she protested
to officials on what she thought was an uncalled foul on Jackson.
"I think Tiffany learned a lesson," Conradt said.
Soon, everyone who follows Texas basketball could learn that
these youngsters can really play.
"We're getting there," Texas' Norman said. "That's why it was
so good to see this."