AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- For a program that counts itself among the
nation's elite in women's basketball, Texas' first two matchups
this season against Top 10 opponents were complete flops.
That's what made a 64-61 victory over Purdue (No. 11 ESPN/USA Today; No. 10 AP) on Sunday
that much sweeter for the Longhorns. The first win over a ranked
opponent this season could be just the thing the Longhorns need to
challenge for the Big 12 title.
"Our team needed this," Texas coach Jody Conradt said. "They
needed it to believe in what we've been working toward. I wanted
them to be rewarded."
Tiffany Jackson scored 20 points and Texas hit four free throws
in the final 22 seconds to snap Purdue's seven-game winning streak
in the final non-conference game for both teams.
Two previous games against No. 3 Duke and No. 4 Tennessee ended
in embarrassing losses by an average of 24 points and the Longhorns
opened Big 12 play last week by letting Nebraska rally to win on
their home court.
Texas (11-4) had lost eight in a row to Top 10 opponents since
knocking off Baylor at home in 2004-05.
"I think this is huge," said Jackson, who was reduced to tears
after the Tennessee loss on Dec. 17. "To see where we are
nationally and get that win is a big boost for our confidence."
Jackson and Earnesia Williams hit four free throws to secure the
win after Purdue's FahKara Malone hit consecutive layups that
pulled the Boilermakers within one.
Williams' two free throws with 13 seconds left scored the final
points, and Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton's last 3-point attempt for Purdue
bounced off the front of the rim.
Wisdom-Hylton led Purdue (14-3) with 16 points. The Boilermakers
were 1-of-10 on 3-pointers and committed 20 turnovers, including
eight by Malone.
Carla Cortijo added 14 points and eight rebounds for the
Longhorns, who also got tremendous defense from Erneisha Bailey.
She held Purdue's leading scorer, Katie Gearlds, to 12 points on
5-of-16 shooting. Purdue's career leader in 3-pointers was 0-4
"Gearlds probably hasn't been guarded liked [Bailey] guarded her
in a long time," Conradt said.
Cortijo's energy in the second half created problems for the
Boilermakers on both ends. After hitting a short jumper, she stole
the ball from Gearlds and finished a 3-point play that put Texas up
Texas led 54-46 before Wisdom-Hylton scored six straight points
to start the Boilermakers' rally. Purdue never led in the second
"We felt like if we cold grab the lead, we could hang on to it.
It was there for our taking," Gearlds said. "[But] they hit their
free throws and layups."
Texas was 13-of-15 from the line, while Purdue was 6-of-12.
Texas' big concern going into the heart of the Big 12 season
will be the status of sophomore shooting guard Erica Arriaran.
She hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points, but had to
be helped off the court after twisting her knee with 31 seconds
left trying to stop one of Malone's layups.