- Associated Press - Sunday, March 6, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Texas took a key step in moving past a painful loss.

Celina Rodrigo scored 13 points to help the sixth-ranked Longhorns hold off upstart Kansas 66-50 Saturday night in the Big 12 women’s quarterfinals.

Ariel Atkins scored 11 points and Brooke McCarty added 10 for the Longhorns (27-3), who were coming off a loss to Baylor in the regular-season finale that cost them a share of the conference regular-season title.

The conference tournament offered a chance to move on, and coach Karen Aston said the Longhorns are ready to take advantage of it.

“Our players and staff are extremely proud of the year we’ve had,” Aston said. “I think they understand how to sort of push the reset button in tournament play. So it’s sort of like __ it’s over. Whatever we did, it’s over, whether it was good, bad or ugly, it’s over.”

The Jayhawks (6-25), seeded 10th in the 10-team league, went winless in conference play and had lost 20 straight overall before beating TCU on Friday night.

The Jayhawks stayed close for much of Saturday’s game. Lauren Aldridge scored 12 points and Aisia Robertson added 10 points and nine rebounds for Kansas.

First-year Kansas coach Brandon Schneider said the improved play the past two games gives him hope.

“My enthusiasm for what I think we can do at the University of Kansas with our women’s basketball program has never wavered,” Schneider said. “We played with a roster that we inherited, and we played extremely tough all year long. And I think we have a really bright future.”

The Longhorns advanced to play West Virginia in the semifinals on Sunday.

It was second-seeded Texas’ eighth consecutive win over the Jayhawks.

Texas was sluggish early and led just 12-9 after a quarter. The Longhorns shot just 5 for 13 in the opening 10 minutes.

Kansas hung tough through much of the second quarter and trailed just 24-22 before the Longhorns closed the half with a 6-0 run to take a 30-22 advantage.

Texas led 45-37 after three quarters, then opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer by McCarty, a steal and layup by Lashann Higgs and a pair of free throws by Atkins to go up 52-37. The Longhorns made 7 of 12 shots in the final period to put the game out of reach.

“I thought our young players gave us a lift defensively and energy-wise,” Aston said. “They just seemed to have a little bit of a different pop in their step. The young ones don’t particularly know any better to be nervous or worried about anything.”

STAT LINES

Texas committed 21 turnovers.

“We didn’t shoot the ball well tonight and had way too many turnovers, but I thought our defense was solid all night long and gave us a chance to win,” Aston said. “I thought Kansas played very spirited and carried over their performance last night with a good one tonight.”

ELITE COMPANY

Texas’ Imani Boyette had seven rebounds for the Longhorns, and now surpassed Cinietra Henderson to move into fifth place on Texas’ all-time career rebounding list with 985.

QUOTABLE

“We definitely have to play better,” Aston said. “I don’t want to sit up here and say it was a very perfect game, because it wasn’t. We’ve got to play better tomorrow, no matter who we play.”

TIP-INS

Kansas: Went scoreless for the first 2:31. … Had just two assists in the first half. … Committed 23 turnovers, leading to 25 second-chance points for Texas.

Texas: Improved to 3-0 all-time against Kansas in conference tournament play. … Outrebounded Kansas 33-23. … Reached the semifinals for the third consecutive year. … Beat Kansas 75-38 and 70-46 in the regular season.

UP NEXT

Kansas: Season over.

Texas: In Big 12 semifinal on Sunday.

___

Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP .

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