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.