AUSTIN, Texas (AP)Aliyah Matharu was a five-star recruit in high school, but she’s never been a regular starter in three seasons of college basketball, two with Mississippi State and now at Texas.
Matharu says she’s all right with that. She is, after all, the Longhorns’ leading scorer.
On Sunday, Matharu scored 18 points in just 19 minutes, and No. 9 Texas defeated Texas Rio Grande Valley 93-58.
The game on Sunday was a last-minute addition made Friday as both schools had league games postponed because of the coronavirus. The Vaqueros were supposed to play at New Mexico State while the Longhorns were originally playing at No. 14 Baylor.
Matharu started eight of 52 games at Mississippi State before transferring to play for the coach who recruited her to Starkville, Vic Schaefer. She has made five starts this season for Schaefer and averages 15.5 points.
”I feel important,” Matharu said. ”It’s alway nice to feel like you can help.”
Matharu converted 6 of 12 shots from the field, including 4 of 6 3-pointers after doing some extra work on Friday and Saturday. She connected on only 14 of 42 overall, 4 of 17 3-pointers, the previous three games.
”I felt like I hadn’t been in rhythm for a while,” Matharu said.
Lauren Ebo and Joanne Allen-Taylor scored 13 each for Texas, and Aaliyah Moore collected 15 rebounds in 23 minutes.
UTRGV (5-9) was out rebounded 51-28.
Taylor Muff scored 17 for UTRGV, making five 3-pointers. Muff is a graduate student playing college basketball for the first time after four years of volleyball at Northern Colorado.
Sara Bershers scored six, nine fewer than her team-best average.
Texas (11-2) was physically dominated inside during a 74-61 loss to Texas Tech on Wednesday. The Longhorns made an effort to pass the ball inside to its centers and power forwards against UTRGV, which had only one player taller than 6 feet available. Texas had a 40-22 edge in points in the paint.
”When it came to our previous game, we were just soft,” Ebo said. ”We were getting bullied down there.”
Neither team valued possession of the ball. UTRGV committed 28 turnovers, and Texas made 22.
Despite the lopsided score, UTRGV coach Lane Ford was thankful to have a replacement game.
”It was great for us,” Ford said. ”Obviously, they are talented, but we played hard.”
UTRGV: The Vaqueros were missing seven players with either COVID or injuries, including starting guard Jena Williams. Burcu Soysal, a 6-5 reserve center, also was out, leaving UTRGV with 6-3 Iva Belosevic as its only player taller than 6 feet. She played 20 minutes, 13 more than her average, trying to counter the Longhorns’ size advantage.
Texas: The Longhorns hit 8 of 14 3-pointers after making just 7 of 23 against Texas Tech. ”We couldn’t throw it in the ocean if we were standing on the beach at high tide Wednesday,” Schaefer said.
He was concerned that the Longhorns missed 10 of 23 free throws, 56.5 percent accuracy that was worse than their mark of 64.2 coming in, which ranks 303rd nationally.
Freshman reserve guard Kyndall Hunter, a coveted recruit for Texas, did not play, a decision Schaefer made before the game, a team spokesman said, adding that injury and COVID were not factors. Hunter was not on the bench. She made seven 3-point baskets in the season opener against New Orleans and has averaged 11 minutes and 5.9 points in seven games. Asked if Hunter is still on the team, Schaefer said, ”As far as I know. All young kids go through growing pains.”
Schaefer pointed out that some McDonald’s All-Americans around the country barely play, if at all, while ”all of our kids (except junior college transfer Femme Masudi) are averaging double figure minutes.”
UTRGV: Is at Chicago State on Thursday.
Texas: Hosts Kansas on Wednesday.