Chassidy Fussell

Senior Chassidy Fussell has made the most of her last season as a Longhorn, averaging 10 points per game, which is the third highest total on the team. Fussell also recently earned All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Chesapeake Energy Arena, home of the Oklahoma City Thunder (46-15), is already a bastion of Longhorn dominance. Former Longhorn and OKC small forward Kevin Durant finished with 42 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals at the arena Tuesday night.

This weekend, head coach Karen Aston and her team look to channel the Longhorn dominance at Chesapeake in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship. With its first No. 3 seed since the 2004-2005 season, Texas (20-10, 11-7 Big 12) faces No. 6 Oklahoma Saturday night at 8:30 p.m.

“The fact that we’re now finishing third in the league, that’s significant,” Aston said after Texas trumped No. 18 Oklahoma State 65-58 Monday. “We locked up third place — sole possession of third. It was one our goals.”

Upper-tier Big 12 positioning wasn’t the only goal the Longhorns hoped to check off their list. They grabbed their first 20-win season in four years, which Aston said is the “symbol of being a good basketball team.”

Senior guard Chassidy Fussell, who finished Monday with 15 points and four rebounds in her final game at the Frank Erwin Center, echoed Aston’s sentiments.

“It’s just a really great feeling to get Texas back to where it’s supposed to be — a 20-win season, get back to the NCAA tournament and be on top,” Fussell said.

But the season isn’t over yet. And the Longhorn success that has positioned them well for the post-season will only mean so much if the Longhorns fall this weekend in Oklahoma City. The Red River Rivalry has run deep this year in women’s basketball, featuring a Texas 79-74 overtime win in Austin followed by a one-point loss (64-63) in Norman, Okla. Oklahoma’s No. 6 seed is almost deceiving, given the two teams appear neck and neck.

Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali led Texas in the Feb. 19 Norman matchup, shooting a perfect 7-for-7 from the floor while finishing with 17 points and four rebounds, so the one-point deficit at the buzzer hit her hard.

“It’s really frustrating,” Enemkpali said. “We knew they had a great leader and we knew in order to win this game we had to be strong defensively. In the first half, we missed a lot of box outs and gave up offensive rebounds that kept them in the game.”

Each team’s coach recognized that the game could’ve gone either way. Aston noted the Sooners’ resilience, saying Texas was “out of sync and didn’t give the kind of effort necessary to win on the road.” Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale said the win left her speechless, but she was focused on the next steps.

“It can be [a win to propel them],” Coale said. “It’s what we do with it next. Do you turn it into fire or do you let it sift away?”

The Sooners did a little bit of both as they finished their season with two more home wins but dropped the last two road contests. Saturday night, Texas must do its best to make the Sooners’ spark sift away.

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Senior guard Chassidy Fussell drives to the basket during Texas' contest Monday night. Fussell was one of four seniors honored during Monday night's senior night. 

Photo Credit: Mengwen Cao | Daily Texan Staff

Tears filled the eyes of senior GiGi Mazionyte as she stepped onto the court squeezing tightly onto her family’s hands. The crowd cheered as the announcer announced that Mazionyte — along with seniors Chassidy Fussell, Helen Tau and Ashley Roberts — was playing in her final regular season game. 

It seemed fitting that No. 18 Oklahoma State was the regular season finale. The Longhorns opened conference play with a close 61-67 loss to the Cowgirls and closed it Monday night with a 65-58 win.

The win gives Texas the third spot in the Big 12 ranking going into postseason play but, more impressively, gives the Longhorns their 21st win of the season.

“I’m really proud of our basketball team tonight,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I have always thought, as a coach, that [20 wins] is the symbol of a good basketball team.”

Although it was a big game against a ranked opponent, it was important to Aston to honor her seniors. Tau and Roberts, who usually sit firmly on the bench for the majority of games, found their names on the starting roster Monday night. 

“I think that is something that those players always remember,” Aston said. “Some of them have not had the opportunity to run through that tunnel this year, so it was important to me, and I’m sure it was to them.”

Tau returned to the bench at the 17:40 minute mark with a smile stretched across her face and a cheer from the stands while Roberts trotted back with 16:29 to go in the first. Both eventually jogged back to the court with Texas in the lead with about 50 seconds left. 

“Just to see them smile — [especially Tau],” Fussell said. “She has the biggest smile on the team. We told her to shoot the ball. We didn’t care if she made it or missed. It’s just great to see my teammates out there.”

Texas started off the game quick and aggressive. Freshman forward Nekia Jones set the tone and brought up the energy within seconds of checking into the game with a 3-pointer immediately followed by an acrobatic layup. 

The second half got off to a slow start. The Longhorns were initially sloppy, misdirecting passes straight into the hands of Cowgirls. Oklahoma State fought hard to cut the Longhorns’ lead, but Texas pushed back just as hard to maintain the lead for its seniors.

“All we talked about before the game was just playing for the seniors, no matter what,” Fussell said.

Playing an overaggressive, undisciplined defense Saturday night, Texas sent the Cyclones to the charity stripe repeatedly. Iowa State scored 30 points off free throws compared to Texas’ mere four.

The frazzled Longhorns didn’t control themselves much more on offense. Concerned that Texas gave Iowa State a possession advantage, head coach Karen Aston attributed the 81-64 defeat to a weakness in her team’s rebounding.

“People are paying a whole lot of attention to us on the backboards, but we’re not very diligent with doing our work early and getting ourselves some extra possessions,” Aston said. “I’m disappointed in our efforts on the boards.” 

Aston’s post-game reaction came despite the Longhorns’ outrebounding the Cylcones 39-36, as sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford and senior guard Chassidy Fussell combined for 15 rebounds.

Offensively, Texas (17-10, 8-7 Big 12) also outscored Iowa State 33-20 in the paint. But, with the Cyclones hitting just 37 percent of their field goals, Texas needed to be closer to its 11.6-rebound advantage to beat the Cyclones. 

“They had critical transition buckets against us and we couldn’t make any defensive stops when necessary,” Aston said. “Guarding the penetration well is something we’ve struggled with recently. Critical possessions changed the flow of the game and gave them momentum.”

Rebounding was certainly an issue, but it was the turnover differential that proved fatal for the Longhorns. The Cyclones collected 23 points off 15 turnovers, compared to just five points off six turnovers for Texas. 

Although Aston said Ames is “always a tough place to play in” and noted that the more than 13,000 attendees intimidated her younger players, McGee-Stafford wasn’t fazed. She led all scorers with a career-high 26 points to complement eight rebounds and four assists.

Fussell, who was playing in Hilton Coliseum for the fourth time, also played well in the hostile environment, notching 15 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Brady Sanders rounded out the scoring threat with nine points on three-of-six shooting behind the arc, five rebounds and four assists. But, beyond those three, only freshman Nekia Jones scored more
than two points.

“[We were] playing some young players who hadn’t been here before and hadn’t been in this environment, so transition defense was definitely a factor,” Aston said. “That’s where the run came from. But I tried some different players because we had starters really struggling offensively and I wanted to give them a lift off the bench.”

The bench could not provide the necessary lift on Saturday night, but Texas will have a chance to redeem itself Tuesday at home against TCU. After the Horned Frogs (15-12, 6-9) bested Texas in Fort Worth in January, Texas  hopes the match will break its three-game losing streak.

Senior Chassidy Fussell is second on the team with 10 points per game this season. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns hope to redeem themselves against Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, on Saturday after a disappointing 1-point loss to Oklahoma Wednesday night. 

Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali and senior guard Chassidy Fussell posted solid numbers in Wednesday night’s game. Enemkpali completed the game with 17 points and four rebounds, while Fussell left the court with 16 points and four rebounds of her own. 

According to head coach Karen Aston, the problem wasn’t necessarily the points, but the defense — an area in which the Longhorns typically excel. 

“Defensively, we just weren’t good enough down the stretch,” Aston said.

In their upcoming game against the Cyclones, the Longhorns need to whip their defense back into shape and return to the high defensive standards they set earlier in the season. 

After a tough loss, Texas needs a decisive win to restore its confidence and get the momentum rolling in the right direction. Ideally, the Longhorns would take on an unimposing team such as Texas Tech, which would give them leeway to play around with changes and make corrections. But the Longhorns will have no such luck with the Cyclones.

Iowa State is a team the Longhorns have a good chance of beating, but after such a devastating loss, their chances have been pressed thin. 

The Longhorns narrowly pulled out the win against Iowa State in their last meeting. Texas secured its first lead at the 2:55 mark and managed to hold on to it long enough to walk out with a 71-64 win. On Saturday, Texas won’t be able to take any chances with a slow start. The Longhorns haven’t had the best luck in dealing with dire situations in the final minutes.

Further compromising Texas’ shot at victory is the fact that Saturday’s game is on the road, where the Longhorns are 3-6 on the year. The last time the Longhorns faced off against the Cyclones, Iowa was ranked No. 23 and Texas pulled off the upset. But that was at home in the Frank Erwin Center.

Iowa State is coming out of an upsetting loss as well. On Wednesday, while the Longhorns were heading home with their heads down, so were the Cyclones. Baylor ran over Iowa State, scoring 89 points to the Cyclones’ 51.

With two teams seeking redemption, Saturday’s game is likely to be a close one.

Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali's 10 points and nine boards helped Texas beat Kansas State on Wednesday. Despite a 12-point lead at one time, Texas fought to win in Manhattan, Kan. 

Photo Credit: Lauren Ussery | Daily Texan Staff

In need of an easy win against the second-worst team in conference, Texas struggled to pull away in Manhattan, Kan., against Kansas State, before eventually winning 69-63.

“It was not our best performance but, again, credit to K-State,” head coach Karen Aston said. 

Although senior guard Chassidy Fussell eventually helped Texas secure the win with three rebounds and a team leading 15 points, the Longhorns were fighting for victory until the buzzer. 

“I thought it was a hard-fought game that our team pretty much just grinded out,” Aston said. “It was tough.”

The game started off back and forth with a feisty Kansas State team (9-14, 3-9 Big 12) before the Longhorns pulled out to a 7-point lead at halftime. Texas looked in control and poised to make a run in the second half. After a 6-3 run to start the half, Texas’ 12-point lead looked commanding.

The Longhorns began to give way to the Wildcats, and, within five minutes, Kansas State’s Ashlynn Knoll put up eight points and the score was tied at 49. The Longhorns (16-7, 7-4 Big 12) kept pulling ahead, but the Wildcats seemed to always have an answer. 

Freshman forward Nekia Jones finally put the Longhorns up for good — with just over six minutes to go — with a three to break a tie. Kansas State cut the lead to three with a minute left, but the leading scorer in the game — Fussell — hit a big three and sunk two free throws to ice the game.

“We had a better stretch of defense in the last seven to eight minutes,” Aston said on pulling out the win at the end. “We sort of turned our attention towards defending a little bit better.”

Fussell ended the game with 15 points, connecting on three shots from behind the arc to help maintain Texas’ first-place rank in the Big 12 in 3-point field goal percentage. Last season, Texas finished last in the Big 12 in 3-point field-goal percentage.

Sophomore guard Empress Davenport scored 12 points with six rebounds and five assists off the bench. Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali ended her night one rebound shy of a double-double, posting 10 points and nine boards.

The Longhorns will take on No. 7 Baylor on Sunday in Texas’ annual “Shoot for a Cure” game at the Frank Erwin Center.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

Texas hasn’t topped No. 6 Stanford in a meeting since the Sweet 16 round of the 1988 NCAA tournament. Texas knocked Stanford out of the tournament with a 79-58 win before falling to Louisiana Tech in the Elite 8 in overtime.

Before that, the Longhorns beat Stanford in November 1981, committing only six turnovers– the program record. The Longhorns competed for the NCAA championship that season.

Much has changed.

When the Cardinals enter the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday, Texas looks to defend its undefeated 3-0 season start. Stanford is coming in with a 4-1 record, having only lost to top-ranked UConn 57-76.

We’ll be a different team come December, March, April,” Stanford senior All-American Chiney Ogwumike said of the loss. “The goal is to grow from this experience. This team is the standard. Take that as motivation to get better.”

The Cardinal hold a 5-2 overall lead in the series against Texas. But Longhorn senior guard Chassidy Fussell doesn’t let that faze her. Fussell has executed consistently against the California program during her time at Texas. She’s scored a team-leading 17 points in each of her match-ups against the Cardinals, in addition to two steals in the 2011 season opener. After a rough start to that game, Fussell said she had to tone down her excitement.

“I think I came up a little too hyped for this game,” Fussell said. “I did not really have the jitters, I do not really know what it was. I feel like everybody on the team can be better than this game.”

Two years later, Fussell has matured and battled through many more games in her 1400 plus-point career. Averaging 16.3 points per game this season, she remains a key piece to the Longhorns’ success. But she doesn’t act alone.

Junior forward Nneka Enemkpali played in her Longhorn career debut against Stanford in 2011 with just two points and a block in nine minutes. She now poses a fierce offensive and defensive threat, coming off a 19-point, eight-rebound performance against New Mexico on Tuesday. Enemkpali has transformed her skills even since this season’s start.

“If you watch the first game [we played against UTSA], I was in foul trouble the whole game,” Enemkpali said of her adjustment to more stringent NCAA defending rules. “But then coach challenged me and told me I need to be on the floor because I’m productive on the floor, not off the floor.”

Enemkpali hopes to be productive on the floor as the Longhorns seek to end the 25-year losing streak against the Cardinal. Tip-off is at 12:30 p.m.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

At Texas’ last meeting with Texas State in 2006, the Longhorns beat the Bobcats 74-55. But that was seven years ago, when Texas was ranked No. 25 in the country. 

Head coach Karen Aston knows her first year back at Texas was less than impressive, finishing second to last in the Big 12 with a 12-18 record. 

“We’re not where we need to be, and I don’t think any coach would tell you that in October at this point,” Aston said.

But the comfort level that has been established between the players and coaches is something that can give Texas fans hope for this season.

“Our staff, I can’t compliment them enough for how much time they have spent trying to get to know the current players [and] the returners to make up for the lost time in recruiting.” Aston said. “[There’s] absolutely more comfort.”

That comfort translated to the court in the Longhorns’ season opener against UTSA when Texas secured a 63-42 win. Senior guard Chassidy Fussell and sophomore center Imani McGee-Stafford both had a double-digit game. Their accuracy is what really made the pair stand out, though. 

Fussell shot 41.7 percent from the field, 2-for-3 from the three-point line and 6-for-6 from the free throw line. She led the team with 18 points. McGee-Stafford posted a 75 percent field goal percentage, notching her 14th career double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.

“Last year, she [McGee-Stafford] was our ‘big baby,’ and you can definitely see in practice that she’s grown and matured and learned that she’s going to have to step up,” junior forward Nneka Enempkpali said.

The Longhorns lead the all-time series with the Bobcats 23-5 and have won the last 18 meetings, but as far as experience goes for the current teams, the Longhorns and Bobcats are pretty evenly matched. Both teams are still relatively young: Eight of 14 Texas players are either freshmen or sophomores, compared with eight out of 13 Texas State players.

Although this is Texas State head coach Zenarae Antoine’s third year in the position, her first season was far more successful than Aston’s. In her first year with the Bobcats, she transformed a 9-20 team into a 17-14 team, leading one of the best comebacks in Texas State history. Since coming to San Marcos, she has established an up-tempo style the Longhorns will need to keep up with tonight at 7 p.m. in the Frank Erwin Center.

Junior Chassidy Fussell takes the ball to the basket in Texas' thrilling 93-83 win against Kansas on Wednesday night. Although Fussell has had her ups and downs this season, she is averaging 26.5 points per game in her last two leading to Saturday's tilt with Baylor.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

It might have been gone, but Chassidy Fussell’s shooting touch is back on track.

Fussell found her streak once again Wednesday night as the Longhorns took down conference foe Kansas in a 93-83 victory. The 5-foot-10 guard had been slow for her team leading up to this past weekend when they faced Texas Tech.  

Fussell hit 10 of her 12 attempts with four of those coming from behind the arc in the game against Kansas. Her 26 points was a game-high and proved the Tennessee native was back to her normal self. Against the Red Raiders, Fussell added a game-high 27 points. 

“I was just feeling it tonight,” Fussell said after the Kansas game. “My teammates were setting great screens, and I was coming off them and hitting shots.”

The Longhorns are a different team without Fussell. When she is on, her team is on. The last time Texas faced Kansas this season, Fussell, along with Nneka Enemkpali, was suspended after a violation of team rules. In that game, the Longhorns lost 76-38, their worst of the season.

Fussell has the ability to move around and get open, creating shot opportunities for her team. And when she gets those opportunities she doesn’t let them pass.

“She’s a tremendous one-on-one player,” Kansas head coach Bonnie Hendrickson said. “She reads screens really well. She can get her shot off in a small space, and we didn’t get into her to force penetration enough. She would lean back and get off her left foot and knock it down.”

Texas head coach Karen Aston also recognizes the hard work that her eldest player puts out on and off the court to get better.

“She was getting herself back into a groove after all of the adversity that she went through in the stretch of a month,” Aston said. “She has been in the gym with Travis Mays a lot.”

Fussell now looks to take her momentum into the weekend when the Longhorns face top-ranked Baylor (25-1, 14-0). The Bears are led by former AP Player of the Year Brittney Griner, who is averaging 22.1 points per game. Odyssey Sims also comes in as a threat as she collects an average of 12.3 points per game and leads her team with 126 assists. 

In their last meeting Feb. 9, Baylor outran and outshot the Longhorns behind Sims’ 18 points, en route to a 27-point victory. 

Fussell and Texas will face the same grim task when they head to Waco this weekend, as Baylor has won all of its conference games this season, already capturing the regular season Big 12 title.

Published on February 22, 2013 as "Fussell finds fire". 

Junior Chassidy Fussell goes for a layup against Kansas Wednesday night. Fussell scored a team-high 26 points in the Longhorns’ 93-83 victory. 

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The Texas Longhorns tallied their most points in a game all season, defeating the Kansas Jayhawks, 93-83. The win snapped Texas’ four-game losing streak and avenged the 38-point loss it suffered Jan. 23 in Lawrence.

“The thing that I thought they did, they didn’t get down after Sunday and realized we did some great things,” head coach Karen Aston said. “We had a great few days of practice, but I don’t know where these points came from.”

From the opening tip the Longhorns’ energy couldn’t be contained as they connected on their first 10 shots, jumping out to a 20-10 lead. Chassidy Fussell was the catalyst, hitting her first three shots before finishing the first half with 16 points on 7-for-8 shooting.

“Everybody got involved offensively, which is a terrific thing for us, because teams have been keying in on certain players and not guarding others,” Aston said. “I think that is attributed to the players getting into the gym and taking that personally. They’ve done a really good job.”

Texas (10-15, 3-11) played in sync in the first half, moving the ball with ease on its way to shooting 76 percent to Kansas’ 40.6 percent. In addition to Fussell’s strong start, Nneka Enemkpali racked up 11 points on 3-for-3 shooting to fuel the Longhorns’ 47-35 halftime lead.

“We talked about opening up the game with high energy and we really wanted to go out there and attack them before they could attack us,” Enemkpali said. “I think we did a good job.”

Three days after scoring 27 points in her team’s loss to Texas Tech, Fussell found herself in another rhythm, scoring 26 points on 10-12 shooting from the field, including 4-5 from three-point range. Despite going down from an elbow early in the second half, Fussell returned and showcased leadership on the court.

“Getting Chas back on track the last few games has really made a difference,” Aston said. “Shooters are like that. Seeing the ball when it starts going in, they think they can make anything. She was definitely in a terrific groove tonight.”

While the Longhorns revealed just how great they can be when they control the tempo and knock down their shots, their usually stout post game continued to shine, led by Imani McGee-Stafford’s 18 points and 13 rebounds.

Kansas did its best to claw its way back into the game at the end, hitting two threes in the final minute to cut the lead to 88-83 with 49.3 seconds left. But Texas’ shooters refused to let another close game slip away as McGee-Stafford put her team up by nine before Brady Sanders iced the win with less than 30 seconds to play.

“Everybody came in and did something great,” McGee-Stafford said. “It’s a team confidence builder, not just individual.”

The Longhorns posted a 64.6 field goal percentage, their highest total all year.

“They’re growing up right in front of us.” Aston said.

First Half-

The Longhorns came out of the gate on fire. They went 10-for-10 within the first six minutes to take a 20-12 lead before they missed their first shot. Chassidy Fussell led her team with 16 points in the first half as Texas shot a season-high 76 percent from the floor in just one half. On the other side of the court the Longhorns played solid defense putting pressure on the ball, holding the Jayhawks to just 40.6 percent shooting from the floor. At the 3:26 mark Fussell hit a three-pointer which brought the Texas score to 40, two above the total amount of points the Longhorns had the last time they played Kansas.

Second Half-

While Kansas got out to a hot start with two quick scores, the Longhorns were able to respond with a 7-0 run of their own forcing a Jayhawk timeout. Texas once again used pressure to draw fouls against its opponent which gave it a few extra scoring chances. At the 13:48 mark the Longhorns gained a brief 20-point advantage, their biggest lead in conference play this season. The Jayhawks gave Texas some trouble towards the end of the game as they got to within six points of the Longhorns with just 1:14 left. With Kansas fouling to try and get the ball back, the Longhorns were able to make their free throws and capture the 93-83 victory.

Stock-Up

Chassidy Fussell- The junior led her team with 26 points on the night. She made 10 of 12 shots, including 4 of 5 three-pointers, making all the points Texas had from behind the arc. Midway through the second half she left the game after taking an elbow to the head but came back to end the game.

By the Numbers

17- It took Texas less than 17 minutes to grab as many points as it had the last time it played Kansas, a 76-38 loss. A three-pointer by Fussell propelled the Longhorns past that score at the 3:26 mark.

5- The Longhorns finished the game with five players in double-digit points. Fussell, Nneka Enemkpali, Imani McGee-Stafford, Empress Davenport and Brady Sanders all scored over 10 in the game with Fussell leading with 26. 

64.6- Texas finished the game with a season-high 64.6 shooting percentage. The team went 31-of-48 while making 4-of-8 three-point attempts. On the other end of the court the Longhorns held the Jayhawks to a 44.3 shot percentage.

What’s Next

The Longhorns now look to Saturday where they will face off once again with the top-ranked team in the nation. They travel to Waco to play Baylor (25-1, 14-0) for an afternoon game. The last time the two teams met was earlier this month when the Bears visited Austin and took the win, 75-48.