AUSTIN, Texas — Elevated to their highest national ranking in 10 years on Monday morning, the No. 3 Texas women did nothing to tarnish the new status.
Empress Davenport matched her career best with 15 points, most of them during a first-half spree, to help Texas rout Southern 80-42 Monday afternoon.
Nneka Enemkpali added 18 points and 13 rebounds in 20 minutes and powered Texas’ inside game. The Longhorns (7-0) outrebounded Southern 48-22 and outscored the Jaguars 48-8 in the paint. Ariel Atkins, a freshman reserve, scored 12 points for Texas.
Texas was ranked No. 2 in the 2004-05 preseason poll but slid to fourth after losing the second game of the season to No. 5 Georgia.
“It feels good that we are at a place where we are getting some recognition that is deserved at this point today,” said Karen Aston, the Longhorns’ third-year coach who was associate head coach in 2004-05. “But it doesn’t mean a whole lot. We all understand that. It’s early in the season. We have so much work to do.”
For example, Aston said she was not pleased with her team’s 15 turnovers. Enemkpali committed five of them, four in the first half.
“I thought we played recklessly,” Aston said. “We didn’t need to be turning over against this team. I didn’t think they didn’t do anything we haven’t seen before.”
At a point when they feel victory is secure, the Longhorns can focus on self-improvement.
“Once we’re up by a lot, it’s not really about attacking a team, it’s about focusing on what we need to get better at,” Atkins said.
Kendra Coleman led Southern (1-5) with 17 points but made only 5 of 20 shots. Nobody else scored more than six points.
Britney Washington, Southern’s leading scorer with 19 points a game, did not play. Associate head coach Carlos Funchess said Washington’s absence was a disciplinary measure.
“We thought it was best she didn’t play,” Funchess said.
Southern trailed by 11 midway through the first half. Davenport scored 12 straight points in a span of barely two minutes. She scored her 15 points in 17 minutes.
Aston has a way of preventing complacency among her guards: depth. Aston has eight of them, all averaging nine minutes or more. What does Aston demand to earn playing time?
“Execution is first,” senior Krystle Henderson, a backup point guard, said. “And defense, hustle plays. But we all give effort, so you have to do a little more.
“It’s really a competition to make us be on our A game.”