ESTERO, Fla. — Texas took its first two major punches of the season, and escaped with a win anyway.
Audrey Warren's jumper from just inside the foul line with 47 seconds left lifted the 10th-ranked Longhorns to a 56-55 win over Quinnipiac on Friday in the opening round of the Gulf Coast Showcase, a victory that might go down as a costly one for Texas.
The Longhorns had to overcome a 15-point deficit, trailed most of the way and lost point guard Lashann Higgs with 6:55 remaining in the first half with a left knee injury.
"Lashann went down, we came together and we were like, 'We're not going to lose this game,'" said Sug Sutton, who had 12 points for the Longhorns (4-0). "I think it was us coming together as a team and saying we were not going to give up."
Jatarie White also had 12 for Texas, and Danni Williams added 10.
Quinnipiac, the reigning Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champions, led for 34 1/2 of the game's 40 minutes, then rolled with Texas through a back-and-forth final quarter before getting two shots at the end to win the game. Jen Fay's long jumper missed, and Taylor Herd's putback try bounced off the rim as time expired.
Fay led all scorers with 15 points for the Bobcats, who shot 19 percent in the second half, 1 for 15 from 3-point range in that span.
"We just had a very disappointed locker room," Quinnipiac coach Tricia Fabbri said. "A lot of good things obviously happened in this game. Our bench really contributed, and I hope we can continue to build on that."
The Bobcats scored 19 points in each of the first two quarters. They managed only 17 in the second half, and missed 21 of their final 24 shots — yet still were leading 55-54 after a free throw by Fay in the final minute.
"This team needed to know if it had any grit," Texas coach Karen Aston said. "We have new players, we have a transfer who's never played for us before, and they needed to know if we were going to band together or be individuals. That team in there needed to know if we could fight."
Higgs' injury came when she planted near the basket and then tumbled to the floor, letting out several long screams of obvious distress as she grabbed at her knee. She was carried off the floor by two Texas staffers for evaluation, and there was no determination after the game about the severity of her injury.
Everything was going Quinnipiac's way early — and Jaden Ward kept finding herself in the right place at the right time.
She missed two free throws early in the second quarter, but the rebound off the second one was tapped back out as she backed off the line — so she drilled a 3-pointer for a 24-11 lead. And after Chiara Bacchini missed a 3 later in the quarter, Ward was the recipient of a most fortuitous bounce again.
The rebound of Bacchini's miss went bouncing toward the far corner. Mackenzie DeWees ran it down then heaved it with both hands, no-look, over her head, toward the basket. Her toss went directly to Ward, who laid it in for a 33-22 lead.
Fay hit a 3-pointer, one that pushed her career scoring total to 1,002, about a minute later and Quinnipiac took a 38-26 lead into halftime.
"Obviously, the first 20, we were pretty dominating defensively," Fabbri said.
Quinnipiac: The Bobcats are now 0-8 all-time against teams ranked No. 10 or higher. In the other seven meetings, the average score was 93-51 — though that's also wildly skewed by a 117-20 loss to UConn 20 years ago.
Texas: The Longhorns didn't get a warmup for the second half; the Longhorns didn't return to the floor until about 30 seconds were left in the 15-minute intermission. "We were a little shellshocked," Aston said.
The Longhorns are now 16-4 in the state of Florida. Quinnipiac has had big success in the Sunshine State as well; it downed Marquette and Miami in the 2017 NCAA Tournament, on its way to the Sweet Sixteen.
In Texas' first three games of the season, a total of 120 minutes, the Longhorns led for 117 minutes, 57 seconds. They were tied for the other 2:03.
Texas meets Michigan in the semifinals. Quinnipiac plays Missouri loser in the consolation semifinals.