Nneka Enemkpali and Empress Davenport took the Pflugerville-Duncanville debate to a different level on Tuesday.
Three days after Duncanville claimed the Class 5A state high school championship, Texas defeated West Virginia 58-45 as Davenport — a former Pantherette — scored 15 points in the final home game of the season.
No one shone any brighter than Enemkpali, who scored 16 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in a physical Big 12 game. Enemkpali and freshman center Imani McGee-Stafford dominated the paint to help Texas win the battle of the boards 43-25.
Texas (12-17, 5-13 in conference) went on a 12-2 scoring spurt midway through the second half to tilt the score in UT’s favor. Davenport scored all 15 of her points in the second half.
“The difference tonight was our execution in the second half,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “We settled down and started getting the ball where it needed to be, executing play. It was a rough game for both teams but our execution was probably a little bit better.”
Texas, which ranks ninth in the nation (out of 343 Division I teams) in rebound margin, stifled WVU’s interior offense. Enemkpali and McGee-Stafford had more rebounds (27) than West Virginia’s entire team (25).
West Virginia post Ayana Dunning, the team’s leading rebounder, finished with two boards.
After WVU guard Christal Caldwell nailed a three pointer with 14:40 to go, Texas went on a 12-2 tear. Davenport scored the final seven points of that run, including a driving left-handed layup to put the Horns up 50-38 with 8:26 to go.
WVU (17-12, 9-9) never challenged for the lead after Davenport’s hoop.
“Empress does a great job pushing the ball, and she got open looks in the second half and put them in,” Enemkpali said. “Once I got out of my own head, I was able to hit some shots as well.”
Enemkpali was referring to three blown layups in the game’s first two minutes. She regrouped and finished with her team-high 13th double-double of points and rebounds.
In a first half both teams might not watch on replay, Texas earned a 24-20 lead at the break, despite committing 15 turnovers. The Horns played better in the second half, committing just 7 turnovers after halftime.
After her slow start, Enemkpali scored 12 points in the half, 11 in the final 10 minutes. UT had a 16-2 edge in points in the paint and a 20-11 rebounding advantage.
Texas completes its home schedule with an 8-6 record. The Longhorns will play its Big 12 Conference Tournament opener against Kansas State on Friday in Dallas.
“Outside of Baylor, which is playing off the charts, I think we can beat any team in the Big 12 on a given night,” Aston said.
Taylor Palmer led WVU in scoring with 14 points.