Up and down year comes to an end for Longhorns

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Senior forward Ashley Gayle, 22, ended her career with an early exit from the NCAA Tournament. Texas has one win in the tournament in five years under Gail Goestenkors.

Photo Credit: The Associated Press

Although her seat is hotter than ever after another early NCAA tournament exit, head coach Gail Goestenkors has to be somewhat relieved that her fifth, and perhaps most turbulent, season at Texas has reached a conclusion.

The Longhorns’ 68-55 loss to No. 8 seed West Virginia Mountaineers in the first round of the NCAA tournament was a fitting end to yet another disappointing season under Goestenkors. In its final game, Texas scored a season-low 18 first half points and converted on less than a third of its overall field goal attempts, not exactly the performance expected out of a team that started the season ranked in the top 25 with plenty of NCAA tournament experience among its key players to boot.

Senior guards Yvonne Anderson, Ashleigh Fontenette and post Ashley Gayle had reached the tournament in each of the past three seasons, only to be sent home in the first round every time.

Anderson and Fontenette, along with sophomore Chassidy Fussell were looked often for scoring production due to a rash of injuries that plagued the team all year.

Fussell led the team in scoring all season at over 16 points per game. She also became just the second player in UT history to shoot over 90 percent or better from the free-throw line.

Fontenette and Anderson both averaged a shade under 12 points per game and are both a part of the 1,000-point club.

Gayle finishes her career as the all-time leading blocker in Texas history with 370 blocks.

One positive to take away from the Longhorns’ less than spectacular season is the fact that there is a tremendous amount of talent that is stashed away deep down on Goestenkors’ bench. And there’s more coming in this year’s recruiting class as well.

Freshman guard standout Cassie Peoples was limited to just six games this year after failing to heal properly after leg surgery last summer. Peoples was ranked as the No. 7 guard in her class by HoopGurlz. Sophomore guard Shanice McKoy was also unable to play this season after undergoing reconstructive knee surgery in the summer. McCoy played in 14 games in her freshman season.

Sophomore guard Tiffany Moore also played in just four games before her season was ended by a serious allergy problem.

Couple in the intermittent injuries of two more sophomores: lightning-quick guard Chelsea Bass and dominant (when healthy) post Cokie Reed, and you can start to understand the magnitude of the injury situation that befell the team this year.

Goestenkors has also hauled in two pretty massive recruits in 6-foot-7 post Imani Stafford and top guard Empress Davenport that will join the team. Both bring even more depth to the Texas roster.

Texas women’s athletic director Chris Plonsky has pledged to keep Goestenkors under her current seven-year contract that is set to expire in two seasons, but if Goestenkors doesn’t turn things around in a big way, she could be in jeopardy of losing what she has deemed her “dream job.”

Printed on Monday, March 19, 2012 as: Longhorns failed to reach their potential leaving Goestenkors on coaching hot seat