Longhorns use 26-2 spurt to cruise in Goestenkors' debut

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Gail Goestenkors traded her blue shirt for burnt orange. She got a new pair of boots and flashed the "Hook'em Horns" sign for the home crowd.

She also got a win in her first game at Texas (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP).

In other words, the new Longhorns coach did everything right in her debut as Texas overwhelmed Missouri State 92-55 Sunday.

"We all wanted to get this game under our belts," said Goestenkors, who left Duke after 15 seasons to replace just retired Hall of Fame coach Jody Conradt. "I'm just thankful we came ready to play."

Brittainey Raven scored 22 points to lead five Texas players in double figures. Texas scored its most points in a season opener since 1987.

The Longhorns made 29 of 33 free throws and forced 29 Missouri State turnovers. Carla Cortijo scored 17 points with 10-of-11 shooting from the line.

Goestenkors had a 396-99 record at Duke and built the Blue Devils into a national power before heading west to take over for Conradt, who retired when Texas failed to make the NCAA tournament for the second straight year.

She admitted agonizing over the decision but ultimately embraced the challenge of rekindling a stagnant program.

Before the game, the crowd of 4,952 applauded when she was presented with the black leather boots -- size 9 1/2 -- with white stars.

"I'm going to wear them out tonight," she said. "I'm excited."

Texas was all business after tipoff, using a 26-2 run in the first half to blow it open. The Longhorns overmatched the Lady Bears in size and speed on both ends of the court.

Texas used only nine players because of injuries. Guards Cortijo and Raven led the Longhorns' fast break and 6-foot-4 forward Ashley Lindsey had little trouble using her long arms to bank in easy layups. Texas led 41-23 at halftime.

"When I first took the job and they asked me what style do you like, I said we want to run and press and they started cheering," Goestenkors said.

The Longhorns kept running and trapping the entire game, stifling Missouri State dribblers and creating turnovers.

"Our defense creates offense," Raven said. "We need to keep doing that."

It wasn't perfect. Texas often lost shooters on the perimeter and the Lady Bears made nine 3-pointers. Tahnee Balerio hit five and led Missouri State with 20 points.

"They're the biggest team I've ever played against," Balerio said. "I don't know that I've ever played a team this athletic."

Conradt, who coached Texas for 31 years and is one of only two coaches with 900 career wins -- Tennessee's Pat Summitt is the other -- watched the game from a luxury suite at the Frank Erwin Center.

Conradt called it quits in March on the night her team was passed over for the NCAA tournament for the second straight year, saying, "It's a winning business, losing is not acceptable."

Texas had a winning record last season but it had become clear that a once-dominant program, one that reached the Final Four as recently as 2003, had fallen well short of expectations in recent years. The Longhorns finished tied for seventh in the Big 12 last season and were blown out several times by top tier opponents.

Texas lured Goestenkors to Austin with a contract that will pay her at least $1 million per year. At Duke, she won five Atlantic Coast Conference titles and made four trips to the Final Four. About the only thing missing from her Blue Devils resume was a national championship.

The Longhorns are counting on her to bring one to Austin.

"Everything that has happened to me here has been first class. I've always felt so welcomed," Goestenkors said. "I've just felt so good from day one. It's felt like home to me."