Brittainey Raven leads No. 19 Texas to 62-51 victory over No. 22 Arizona State

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TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)—The Texas Longhorns are still figuring out what kind of team they are. They looked downright intense in winning their seventh straight on Thursday night, in one of the nation’s tougher venues.

The 19th-ranked Longhorns blew an early 11-point lead, then pulled away in the second half behind Brittainey Raven’s 18 points for a 62-51 victory over No. 22 Arizona State.

“We needed this win,” said coach Gail Goestenkors, in her first season with Texas. “It’s going to take some time to form our identity. Who are we going to be?”

Kathleen Nash scored 10 points and added nine rebounds, and Carla Cortijo scored 10 points with seven assists for Texas (9-2).

Goestenkors likened the game to a boxing match. It certainly had the intensity, if not the grace, of an NCAA tournament game.

Nash sported a black eye, courtesy of an inadvertent shot from Raven in practice on Wednesday.

Early in the game, Arizona State point guard Reagan Pariseau was stunned by an elbow to the temple, though she later returned. And the Sun Devils’ Jill Noe left the game with a left ankle injury.

“We were trading punches,” Goestenkors said.

Down the stretch, the Longhorns proved to be the tougher team.

The score was tied at 37 with 12 minutes to play when Cortijo hit Raven for a backdoor lay-up. The play energized the Longhorns, who went on a 19-5 run to regain command.

“We like to make those kind of plays, whether it’s a behind-the-back pass or something that gets our team really excited,” Goestenkors said. “And that was one of those plays.”

Raven and Nash combined for 14 of the 17 points during the spurt.

Raven, Texas’ leading scorer, hit 7-of-10 shots from the floor and 4-of-5 from the free throw line.

Nash, a freshman, was 0-for-7 from the floor and missed both her free throws in the first half. After halftime, she hit four of six shots from the field and made both free throws. Five of her nine rebounds came on the offensive glass.

“I was really proud of Kat,” Raven said. “She kept her head up and didn’t get down.”

Briann January scored 22 points for the Sun Devils (6-5), who have lost three of their last five.

Arizona State’s last six home losses have come against ranked opponents over the last three-plus seasons. The Sun Devils are 0-4 against Top 25 teams this year.

ASU coach Charli Turner Thorne said her team couldn’t overcome Texas’ 44-35 advantage on the boards—especially on a night the Sun Devils shot 34.6 percent from the field.

“We haven’t learned it yet, and we keep getting the same lessons,” Turner Thorne said. “Obviously, we have to work harder to be a better rebounding team. And we just need to toughen up a little bit.”

Texas jumped out to an 11-0 lead as Arizona State hit only 1 of its first 15 shots from the floor.

“We definitely came out to a slow start,” January said. “We had good looks. They just weren’t dropping.”

The Sun Devils’ shots began to fall, and they went on an 18-8 run, capped by January’s 3-pointer, to take a 24-23 lead late in the first half. A putback by Texas’ Rachel Rentschler at the buzzer gave the Longhorns a 25-24 lead at halftime.

Neither team looked worthy of its ranking in the first half. The Longhorns had 12 fouls and 12 field goals, and the Sun Devils had more turnovers (9) than buckets (7).

“The first half was just seriously ugly,” Turner Thorne said.

The second half was prettier, at least from Texas’ standpoint. The Longhorns hope to carry momentum from the victory into their next game, against No. 15 DePaul in San Diego on Dec. 28.

“This was huge for our confidence, and really knowing who we can be,” Goestenkors said.

Updated Thursday, Dec 20, 2007

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