AUSTIN, Texas -- As far as measuring sticks go, Texas was taller than Stanford. The Longhorns have a 6-foot-7 starting center.
As for stacking up against the Cardinal on the final score, the Longhorns still have some growing and maturing to do after Chiney Ogwumike shook off a poor first half to score 18 points and rally No. 6 Stanford to a 63-54 victory Saturday.
The Cardinal now have won six in a row in the rivalry between two traditional powerhouse programs in women's basketball. But while Stanford has maintained its status as national title contender -- fueled by a starting lineup with three players from the state of Texas -- the Longhorns are still in rebuilding mode in their second year under coach Karen Aston.
Texas hasn't advanced past the first round of the NCAA tournament since 2008 and fell to 12-18 last season, which included an eighth-place finish in the Big 12. Aston wanted to gauge her team's progress against a powerhouse team and player.
What she saw was a Longhorns team that was good for 20 minutes before letting a potentially huge win get away in a dismal second half.
"We're light years ahead of where we were. We have to be a lot better if we're going to challenge for anything in our league," Aston said.
Texas (3-1) led 37-30 at halftime, but missed 24 of 25 shots in the second half and committed a rash of turnovers that Stanford converted into 21 points. The Cardinal (4-1) held Texas just 17 points after halftime.
"We'll go back and try to play a 40-minute game because we didn't do that today," Aston said.
Mikaela Ruef had 11 points and 10 rebounds for Stanford, which earned coach Tara VanDerveer career victory No. 898, moving her closer to being just the fifth women's coach to reach 900. VanDerveer said Texas could soon become a title contender again.
"Karen and her staff are doing a great job. It's just a matter of time," VanDerveer said.
Chassidy Fussell scored 15 points for Texas, which also got 12 points and 14 rebounds from center Imani McGee-Stafford, whose physical play made it tough for Ogwumike in the first half.
McGee-Stafford blocked Ogwumike's first shot and altered several others. Even when she stepped away from the basket, Ogwumike misfired. The preseason unanimous All-American missed everything on one 3-point attempt, and her last shot of the half, a 3-pionter at the buzzer, never made to the basket as McGee-Stafford stuck up a long arm to tip it in the first half.
"She's so tall and changes your look at the basket," Ogwumike said. "She's athletic and quick."
Fussell scored 11 and Texas closed the first half with an 18-8 run over the final 6 minutes.
Stanford fought back in the second. McGee-Stafford already had a double-double when she went to the bench with a third foul, and the Cardinal struck with a 16-0 run. Ogwumike scored 10 in the burst. Amber Orrange's basket made it 41-40 with 13 minutes to play and Stanford never trailed again.
Texas misfired from every shooting angle and range, missing 24 of 29 shots in the second half. Stanford struggled with its own shooting. The Cardinal shot just 32 percent for the game, scored just six points in the paint and was just 15 of 25 from the free throw line.
"We had multiple opportunities," Fussell said. "We have to sustain our effort."
Stephanie White, Lin Dunn and Carolyn Peck know what it takes to succeed in women's basketball. Their return to the college level should boost the SEC and is good for the game overall.