Karen Aston

Photo Credit: Brooke Crim | Daily Texan Staff

In front of a crowd of over 11,000, the Huskies got hit in the mouth.

Early in the first quarter of No. 9 Texas’ 75-71 loss to No. 1 UConn on Monday night, junior wing Katie Lou Samuelson got smacked in the face with an elbow. The Huskies’ leading scorer buried her face in her hands and gingerly walked to the other side of the court at Frank Erwin Center.

The Longhorns were up 12-7 with 5:57 remaining. With Samuelson off the floor, Texas began to stifle the UConn offense and dropped bombs from distance. A midrange jumper from sophomore guard Alecia Sutton capped off a 10-5 run.

“I definitely thought we would show up because our preparation was good,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I thought they looked like a team that wanted to play differently than maybe they have been playing for a week or so.”

But UConn and Samuelson recovered. Samuelson returned to the floor at the 2:37 mark and closed out the quarter by hitting back-to-back 3-pointers, including a buzzer-beater over junior guard Lashann Higgs that shrunk the Longhorns’ lead to 24-21.

The deep ball stopped falling for Texas in the second quarter. After hitting 4-of-8 treys in the first, the Longhorns didn’t drain another triple until the fourth quarter. UConn rode the moment. The Huskies took the lead a handful of possessions later and clung to a 39-38 lead heading into halftime.

Once the outside shot was no longer an option, Texas shifted its point of attack to the paint.

“They were having so much success just putting it on the floor and going to the basket,” UConn head coach Geno Auriemma said. “I think they said, ‘We can get three the old-fashioned way.’ You know, get a layup and get fouled.”

On the team’s first possession of the third quarter, Higgs drove down the right baseline, drew a double team and found junior center Jatarie White at the elbow for an open jump shot.

White scored another six points in the quarter on post moves and putbacks that kept the Longhorns in the game.

The lead changed seven times in the third quarter, but Texas trailed 61-55 heading into the fourth.

Higgs ended the Longhorns’ cold streak from deep off an assist from senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau, cutting the lead in half. The Huskies missed their next shot, and senior guard Brooke McCarty scooped in a layup with just a second left on the shot clock to bring Texas within one.

UConn was called for an offensive foul at the other end. Then Higgs attacked the right block again, this time coming off a screen from senior guard Ariel Atkins. The Longhorns were finally leading, 62-61, with just 7:59 left in the game.

But they couldn’t hold it. UConn senior guard Gabby Williams hit a jumper on the next play, and Texas trailed the rest of the game.

Down 73-70 with 24.7 seconds remaining, the Longhorns fouled three consecutive times to push the Huskies into the bonus and send Samuelson to the free throw line. UConn had been a perfect 15-of-15 from the stripe all night. But Samuelson missed the first, and then the second.

Texas called timeout and Caron-Goudreau was fouled on the next play, giving the Longhorns an opportunity to cut the lead to one. She missed the first, but made the second. Texas immediately fouled UConn sophomore guard Crystal Dangerfield, who hit both of her free throws.

A last-ditch three from Sutton fell short as time expired. The Huskies had claimed victory.

White finished the game with 18 points and six rebounds. Atkins, Higgs and McCarty combined for 41 points. Though they didn’t come away with the win, the Longhorns were still pleased with the progress they showed.

“We proved that we don’t need to take days off,” White said. “I think that as a team, we know where we are right now and where we could be. And everyday in practice, we need to have that same energy.”

Texas (14–3, 5–1 Big 12) will travel to Lubbock on Saturday to take on Texas Tech.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Joyner Holmes was frustrated.

The sophomore forward spent nearly half the season serving a semester-long suspension in the fall. When she returned, she was relegated to the bench despite starting in all but two games last season. Through five games this year, she averaged just 7.4 minutes.

And, to top it off, No. 7 Texas lost to unranked TCU on Wednesday night. Holmes played 10 minutes and turned the ball over three times.

“I think if anybody was in my position, at this point, I’d think you’d have some frustration,” Holmes said. “Just waking up knowing that I’m as good as the players that are playing and I just want to be able to contribute in any way I can.”

Prior to the Longhorns’ 79-62 win over Kansas at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday, head coach Karen Aston made sure to go over film with her team and encouraged the players to sharpen their attention to detail. Holmes took the advice to heart. Aston noticed.

“She kind of had a look like ‘I know I’ve got to start valuing my reps so that I can get myself back in game mode,” Aston said. “And I thought that she had her best practice (Friday).”

Aston rewarded Holmes’ work ethic with more opportunities in Texas’ victory over Kansas on Saturday.

Senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau was held out of the game with a quad contusion suffered against the Horned Frogs. Sophomore guard Alecia Sutton took Caron-Goudreau’s place in the starting lineup, but Holmes and senior guard Ariel Atkins took most of the minutes at power forward.

Holmes seemed uncomfortable at first. She finished the first half with two points on 1-of-5 shooting, two rebounds and two turnovers. The Longhorns were off to a slow start again, trailing 31-29.

Atkins was frustrated, too. She had four steals and two blocks by halftime, but Texas still couldn’t overtake the lead from the Jayhawks. She wasn’t sure what else she could do, so she consulted with her team.

“I’m no good to my team when I’m overhyped or trying to do too much,” Atkins said. “So, I talked to my coaches, even some of my teammates, and they just told me to calm down and play. And that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

Atkins racked up 10 points and four rebounds in the third quarter, sparking a 16-4 run that gave Texas a nine-point lead. Holmes followed Atkins’ example.

The sophomore started crashing the boards and found chemistry sharing the paint with junior center Jatarie White. Holmes grabbed six offensive rebounds and dished out two assists on post feeds to White.

“(Holmes is) such a difficult matchup, not only for us but for a lot of teams in the country,” Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider said. “There’s very few players that have her size, strength and athleticism. And she dominated the glass in the second half.”

Atkins finished the game with 22 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three blocks and a career-high six steals. Holmes finished with season-highs of 23 minutes, 11 points, nine rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block.

The Longhorns (14-2, 5-1 Big 12) will play host to No. 1 UConn (15-0, 5-0 American) on Monday at 6 p.m. Atkins knows it will take similar performances from her team to pull out the win.

“They’re a very good basketball team, we’re a good basketball team,” Atkins said. “These are the games that you want to come to Texas to play. But, when the ball tips, it’s time to play basketball.”

Photo Credit: Angel Ulloa | Daily Texan Staff

The Horned Frogs had completely lost track of time.

After slowing the pace and dribbling around the top of the arc late in the third quarter, no player recognized that the shot clock was down to five seconds. The ball casually swung around, ultimately landing in the hands of TCU sophomore forward Adeola Akomolafe.

With just two seconds left on the shot clock, Akomolafe saw the time and quickly launched what was only her second 3-point attempt of the season.

Texas head coach Karen Aston watched as the ball sailed and hit its mark, finding the bottom of the net as the shot clock expired with 1:11 left in the quarter. It was that kind of night for Texas.

The Longhorns suffered their second loss of the season on Wednesday night in Fort Worth, falling to TCU, 79-77.

After entering the second quarter with a comfortable 22-14 lead, Texas was ambushed by a 13-1 TCU run. In just four minutes, the Longhorns found themselves down 27-23.

It got worse.

The Horned Frogs piled it on, lighting up the Longhorns for 26 points in the second quarter and entering the half with a 40-31 lead.

Texas came out with a sense of desperation to start the third quarter, stifling TCU’s offense with a half-court press.

The Longhorns also found their range as senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau drained a three to cap off an 11-2 run and tie the score at 42 with 8:01 left in the quarter. But TCU kept its cool, regaining the lead and entering the fourth quarter up 60-57.

The final quarter could only be described as madness. Both teams battled, resulting in a 71-71 standstill with 1:17 left to go.

After getting fouled while diving for a loose ball, sophomore guard Alecia Sutton went to the free throw line. Sutton had only shot 40 percent from the line on the season, but she calmly sank both free throws to give Texas a 73-71 lead. TCU senior guard Toree Thompson answered on the following play, creating separation from senior guard Brooke McCarty and draining a step-back three with 53 seconds left.

With the pressure now on Texas, senior guard Ariel Atkins elevated from mid-range, nailing the jumper to put the Longhorns back on top, 75-74, with 39 seconds left.

Once again TCU responded with a three, and once again Atkins came through with a mid-range bucket, this time to tie the score at 77 with 16.5 seconds.

After a pair of free throws by the Horned Frogs, Texas found itself down two with six seconds left. A broken play led to a desperation three at the buzzer by junior guard Lashann Higgs that failed to even hit the rim. It was over.

Atkins finished with a game-high 25 points to go along with six rebounds. Higgs totaled 18 points on the night.

The loss marks the first conference loss of the season for Texas (13-2, 4-1 Big 12). The Longhorns look to gain momentum when they host Kansas at 1 p.m. on Saturday before No. 1 Connecticut travels to Austin for a heavily anticipated matchup Monday night.

Photo Credit: Angela Wang | Daily Texan Staff

When junior guard Lashann Higgs went to the bench with 3:41 left in the first quarter, she took all of Texas’ offense with her.

Early in their 75-64 win over Kansas State at the Bramlage Coliseum on Sunday, the No. 8 Longhorns struggled against the Wildcats’ zone defense. Their threes weren’t falling, they couldn’t find a good look inside and there weren’t many chances in transition.

Texas started the game missing its first seven shots from the field, turning the ball over three times during that stretch. Higgs finally broke the lid on the basket, hitting a midrange jumper with 5:26 on the clock.

Head coach Karen Aston needed Higgs to keep up her hot start for the rest of the game and subbed in sophomore guard Alecia Sutton to give Higgs a breather. At the time, the Longhorns trailed 11-6. Higgs had all six of Texas’ points. She entered back into the game just before the end of the first quarter with the Longhorns still down, 15-12.

The second quarter was more of the same from Texas. Junior transfer center Jatarie White and sophomore forward Joyner Holmes both got into foul trouble, picking up two each by the 8:44 mark. Senior guard Brooke McCarty drained a three off an assist from Higgs at 7:14 to cut Kansas State’s lead to two points, but wouldn’t score again until the fourth quarter.

Halfway through the second, Higgs had had enough. She picked off a pass from Wildcat sophomore forward Peyton Williams and cashed in an easy layup on the fast break. Kansas State scored on the next play and Higgs returned the favor by splashing a trey, tying the game, 22-22.

The Longhorns turned the ball over on their next two possessions and Wildcat freshman guard Kayla Goth made a layup to push Kansas State in front. Texas missed its next shot, but senior wing Ariel Atkins stole the ball back and found Higgs in transition to tie the game again.

The Wildcats missed a three on the next play, and McCarty zoomed to the other end and drove into the paint. McCarty’s layup rimmed out, but senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau grabbed the offensive board and found Higgs open on the right wing. Higgs swished the triple to give the Longhorns their first lead of the game, 27-24.

In the second half, Texas cracked the code on Kansas State’s zone. The Longhorns started the third quarter on a 13-4 run fueled by Atkins and White. The Wildcats called timeout with 6:17 remaining and Texas up 47-30. The Longhorns never let the lead dip back below double digits.

Higgs finished the game 26 points, including 16 in the first half. She showed the same prowess on the defensive end, racking up three steals and guarding Goth for most of the game.

Goth leads her team in points, averaging 16.7 per game, and leads the Big 12 with 6.3 assists per game. She finished the day with 17 points and five assists, but also committed two turnovers and shot just 6-of-18 from the floor.

Atkins, White and Caron-Goudreau combined for 31 points, and Caron-Goudreau also earned her first career double-double with 10 rebounds.

The victory puts Texas at 13-1 on the season and 4-0 in the Big 12. The Longhorns face TCU on Wednesday in Fort Worth with tip-off set for 8 p.m.

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford stepped up last weekend averaging 22 points and 13 rebounds in the Longhorns’ two wins last weekend to set up a showdown with UConn on Saturday.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Update: Texas faces Connecticut at 11 a.m. Follow us at @texansports for live-tweets from the game, and check back here afterward for post-game coverage.

After a season marked by injuries and other setbacks, Texas’ chances at a postseason run looked slim — but two weeks into the NCAA Tournament, the Longhorns have yet to falter.  

“We’re excited to go to the Sweet 16,” head coach Karen Aston said. “There was a point in time where I don’t think anybody saw this coming at all. They thought we were done. I really can’t say enough about our staff and our players who were willing to do whatever they had to do for us to get to a better spot.”

Fifth-seeded Texas (24–10) now faces another daunting task. Saturday’s regional semifinal matchup puts the Longhorns against the team many pundits predict will win it all — Connecticut. They’re the top overall seed, two-time defending champions, and a team Texas has never been able to beat. 

UConn (32–1) has the top-rated scoring offense and defense in the nation, averaging nearly 90 points a game offensively and only allowing about 48 points per game. The Huskies have also advanced to the regional final, otherwise known as the Elite Eight, every year for nine years.

Its only loss this year was to Stanford in November. Days later, Texas defeated Stanford.  

Much has changed for the Longhorns since that victory. The team went through a rough patch, starting 4–8 in conference play. But more recently, they’ve hit their stride; Texas won nine of its last 11 games.

“I think our team is really resilient,” Aston said. “We’re not where we want to be, obviously, but we’re making progress.”

In their first two NCAA Tournament games, the Longhorns forced 33 turnovers and outscored their opponents in the paint, 94–34. But the games still remained close. Texas only defeating first-round opponent Western Kentucky by two points and beat California, in the next round, by three.

That is one reason Texas will rely on its defense and receive contributions from its bench, which has outscored its two previous opponents’ bench, 54–15.

“Defense is something we’ve tried to focus on and make it our identity,” said junior center Imani McGee-Stafford, who has secured back-to-back double-doubles during NCAA Tournament play. “We just tried to focus on what makes us, us in the second half [against Cal]. [And] you never really know who could start for us. That’s the beauty of us right now; we are very deep, and whoever we need to matchup with, we can.” 

Texas will continue to look for production from McGee-Stafford, as well as from freshman Brooke McCarty, who is coming off the bench averaging 13 points in the tournament.

“I think I just had to go out there and start playing [because] I was really nervous at first,” McCarty said. “I think I just had to get over my nerves. My teammates have really helped me and just believed in me.”

Texas and UConn tip off the Albany Regional Sweet 16 on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN.

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford lays the ball up against Oklahoma. McGee-Stafford finished with 11 points and 10 boards as Texas advances to the Big 12 tournament conference finals.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

Texas has become quite familiar with deficits this season. But down by 6 points late in the second half Friday, Texas started to streak.

With the game tied with less than 20 seconds to go, a Lady Toppers foul sent freshman guard Brooke McCarty to the charity stripe, where she sank both free throws to help Texas hang on to a 66-64 victory over Western Kentucky in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“I told our players after the game that this was obviously a hard-fought win, and it was nothing to be ashamed of that it went to the wire because I was so impressed by [Western Kentucky] … ,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I knew they would present problems for us from a matchup perspective.”

The game featured 10 lead changes, with each team leading for about 18 minutes each. Texas’s defense held the Lady Toppers to 29 percent shooting in the opening period, but 13 first-half turnovers by the Longhorns kept the game close early.

“We stopped turning the ball over in the second half and started attacking and that was really ultimately the difference, Aston said. “I am proud of our players for holding in there, and it wasn't easy with first-game jitters. I thought we really held in there.”

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford, who started against Western Kentucky, picked up a double-double, scoring a season-high 24 points and grabbing 15 boards. She said the game scenario seemed all too familiar.

“We were in the huddle in the last four minutes, and I just kept thinking to myself, ‘We've been here before. We've been here before. We've come back from 6 or 8 points with just a little bit of time left,’” McGee-Stafford said. “So I think it's good knowing that we are able to come back, and we have the experience from games earlier in the season.”

Texas has come from behind to win in multiple games this season. Aston's lineup change gave the Longhorns NCAA tournament experience, as Friday’s starting five was the 12th different lineup in 33 games this season.

“I think because of the experience we have, we know how hard we have to push because we have lost games like this,” McCarty said. “So we just thought back to those games every time we were in the huddle, and we just pushed and pushed and pushed, and we came out with the win.”

The first-round win gives the Longhorns their 23rd victory of the season, the team’s most since the 2003-2004 season.

“I think getting this win under our belt is a great confidence booster for this team, and obviously, every game we can play is a positive for this program,” Aston said.

The Longhorns look to continue their momentum into the second round, as they face No. 4 California at 8 p.m. Sunday on ESPN2. The winner moves on to the Sweet 16.

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford throws up a shot in Texas’ 75–64 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Championship game. McGee-Stafford scored 15 points and had 10 rebounds against the Bears.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

After a long, injury-prone season, the Longhorns returned to Austin just shy of a Big 12 title.  

For the first time since 2004, Texas advanced to the Big 12 Championships finals, defeating Oklahoma and TCU along the way, but the Longhorns fell to Baylor, 75–64, Monday night at the American Airlines Center. 

“First of all, I just want to say how proud I am of our basketball team,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I’m very, very proud, but I’m disappointed we didn’t play better tonight.”

No. 1-seeded Baylor started with a six-point lead on No. 6-seeded Texas, but the Longhorns soon got on the board. They traded 6–0 runs to start things off before the Bears pulled away.Several key drives and three pointers from Junior guards Celina Rodrigo and Brady Sanders kept Texas in play in the first 20 minutes, and the Longhorns went into halftime behind, 40–35.

But two minutes into the second half, Baylor increased its halftime lead to nine ahead of Texas, who was the preseason favorite to win the conference title. But with the help of Baylor’s Nina Davis and Imani Wright, who each had 14 points halfway through the second half, the Bears’ lead grew to 18 after a four-minute Texas scoring drought. 

Baylor eventually went on to claim its fifth consecutive — and seventh overall — Big 12 title.

“Baylor was more efficient tonight in every area,” Aston said. “When they’re shooting pretty well, it’s hard to beat them.”

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford led the Longhorns in scoring, putting 15 on the board and grabbing 10 rebounds. Junior guard Empress Davenport was the only other Longhorn to score in the double digits with 13.

“I haven’t beaten Baylor yet,” McGee-Stafford said. “At the end of the day, they put more points up. This game was frustrating because obviously we wanted a championship.”

The Longhorns still has the NCAA Tournament which begins on March 20, ahead of them. Texas will find out what position they are seeded on March 16.  

“I think we’re all pretty confident [on going into NCAA],” said Rodrigo. “We’re going to build on this.”

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford lays the ball up against Oklahoma. McGee-Stafford finished with 11 points and 10 boards as Texas advances to the Big 12 tournament conference finals.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

A stifling defense is what wins the Longhorns games — and possibly even championships. 

In the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship semifinal against Oklahoma on Sunday, Texas held the Sooners to 26 percent shooting — their worst shooting percentage all season. The Longhorns scored 18 points off 22 turnovers and defeated their rival, 59–46.

Despite an injury-filled season, Texas, the preseason favorites to win the Big 12, now sits in the final game Monday with a chance to fulfill that prophecy.

“I would say that this was just a team effort defensively,” head coach Karen Aston said.  “A lot of players made some plays for us, but I thought the difference in the game was our team defense.”

The Texas defense held Oklahoma to just 8-of-30 shooting in the second half, while the offense ended the game converting eight of 10 baskets in the final 10 minutes.

Despite boasting more underclassmen, Texas’ experienced players paved the way for Texas.

Junior guard Brady Sanders tied the team high with 11 points, going 2-of-2 from the 3-point line. In the second half, junior guard Celina Rodrigo and senior guard Krystle Henderson could not miss from the perimeter, combining for four 3-point baskets. Texas shot a season-high 50 percent — 6-of-12 — from behind the arc.

The Longhorns used their depth to open up the game. The Texas bench scored 32 of the team’s 59 points. Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford came off the bench to collect a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards. 

“We have [junior guard Empress Davenport] coming off the bench, who has been a three-year starter, and we made the decision to bring Imani off the bench also,” Aston said.  “You can’t start but five, and those two have accepted their roles, and they’re really the difference in our team right now. And you have Celina and Krystle coming off the bench, so our bench is strong.”

Despite a 4–8 start to conference play, Texas has won seven of its last eight games. The team seems to have caught a groove and the players have become familiar with their roles.

Well, the journey has been tough, but we overcame the adversity that was put upon us, and I think that’s what it’s all about,” sophomore guard Brianna Taylor said. “Basketball is a game of up and downs, and it’s how you handle it, so I think that we’re handling it pretty well now.”

This is the first time since 2004 that Texas will play in the conference championship final. Texas faces Baylor, who won both regular season matchups against Texas, on Monday. 

“It’s going to be a good game, a fun game, and we’ve been waiting for this chance, so we’re going to redeem ourselves,” Henderson said.

The game is set for 8 p.m. at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. 

“I think third time’s a charm, so we’re going to get them [and] we’re going to beat them,” Taylor said. “That’s my mindset.”

Sophomore center Kelsey Lang had 19 points and 10 rebounds in her second double-double of the season. She helped the Longhorns outscore TCU 36–10 in the paint.
Photo Credit: Rachel Zein | Daily Texan Staff

Texas made a statement Tuesday night — just ahead of the Big 12 tournament.

The Longhorns jumped all over TCU in the second half to win by 34 and send a message to the rest of the conference.

“I believe we are better than anybody in this league,” head coach Karen Aston said.

And when the Big 12 tournament begins Friday, TCU will once again have to face off in the quarterfinals against a Texas squad that is firing on all cylinders. 

“I’m looking for hungry dogs,” Aston said of her team’s fight heading into tournament play.

However, the final score, 79–45, doesn’t tell the whole story. The game wasn’t a rout during the first half. 

Maybe Texas was still sluggish from its overtime loss in Morgantown, West Virginia, on Sunday. Or maybe its nine turnovers helped keep the Horned Frogs (17–12, 9–9 Big 12) close in the first half. Either way, the Longhorns (20–9, 9–9 Big 12) led by just 5 points at halftime despite an 11-point burst from junior guard Brady Sanders.  

“We need to play attention to detail,” Aston said.

The team took Aston’s advice in the second half as they came out and executed almost flawlessly, turning the ball over just four times. 

Behind sophomore center Kelsey Lang’s 13 points and eight rebounds in the second half, Texas rolled as it made up for its loss to TCU earlier in the year. The Longhorns outscored TCU by 29 in the half, shooting 55 percent from the field and holding the Horned Frogs to a meager 25 percent.

Texas took advantage of its size, going to the rim on offense and keeping TCU outside. Texas outscored TCU in the paint by a wide 36–10 margin and forced TCU to jack up 22 from deep, where they made just three shots. Lang finished with her second double-double of the season, as she tallied 19 points and 10 boards. 

Apart from Lang, the rest of the scoring was balanced. The bench had itself a nice game, outscoring TCU’s sideline, 33–6.

Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford had 9 points and four blocks. Sophomore guard Brianna Taylor also chipped in on the glass, bringing down 10 rebounds. 

While Texas’ scoring came from many sources, TCU’s offense was bunched. Junior guard Zahna Medley, junior forward Veja Hamilton and senior guard Natalie Ventress combined for 39 of TCU’s 45. The rest of the team shot 1-of-25 from the field and 3-of-9 from the free-throw line.

The win came on an emotional night that honored the team’s seniors: forward Nneka Enemkpali and guard Krystle Henderson. Enemkpali tore her ACL earlier in the year, effectively ending her college career. 

“Today is their day,” Aston said. “Our day.”

Senior guard Krystle Henderson and the Longhorns look to get their 20th win when they take on TCU on Senior Night.
Photo Credit: Marshall Tidrick | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns, a game away from their second consecutive 20-win season, will hit the court one last time at the Frank Erwin Center to host TCU on Tuesday.

The team, which currently sits at sixth place in the Big 12, is in jeopardy of losing the opportunity for a first-round bye in the conference tournament. 

But there’s even more on the line in this game. It’s Senior Night. 

But this go-around feels different without senior forward Nneka Enemkpali.

“She affected our whole team because of her leadership qualities,” head coach Karen Aston said. “She was really the mother of the team. That was difficult to lose at the point that we lost it. It was difficult to replace because there really wasn’t another personality as strong as Nneka with the maturity that she had.”

Enemkpali said her torn ACL injury has provided a lesson in overcoming adversity and given her perspective about her time on the court.

“I’m sad that I’m not physically able to play out there,” Enemkpali said. “But I think, looking back on the memories that I had at the Erwin Center, the interactions with the fans and support of my family and teammates — it’s going to be easier for me to take in that journey here is over.”

Senior guard Krystle Henderson will also play for the last time at Texas. Although she played two seasons at Wichita State, she said she will miss the time she spent with her teammates.  

“I know I didn’t come here for four years, but it’s definitely been a learning experience for me,” Henderson said. “I’m going to try not to cry, but I’m sure I’ll shed some tears.”

The team will try to bounce back after giving up a 14-point lead in overtime against West Virginia on Sunday.

“Our team has had problems with what I call sticking the knife in and really stepping on someone when you have somewhat some control of the game,” Aston said. “The most disappointing thing was how little we defended in the second half.”

Texas will look to stop a potent TCU offense that ranks third in the conference in scoring, averaging 70 points per game. TCU’s defense produces nearly 10 steals per game.

“For all of the young players, coming off of a tough road trip [with a] short turnaround, you would be looking for some sort of something to probably dig a little deeper with, and I would think that would be a great reason to do that,” Aston said.

The Longhorns lost their pervious matchup against the Horned Frogs last month by 5 points. They look to split the season series at 7 p.m. on the Longhorn Network.