The Longhorns were able to pull out a cheerful ending to what was a rather disappointing season Tuesday night as they powered past West Virginia 58-45 during their Senior Night.
Texas (12-17, 5-13) hosted the Mountaineers (17-12, 9-9) at the Frank Erwin Center and sent them home with their second straight loss. Seniors Nadia Taylor, Kayla Brewer and Cokie Reed, who retired earlier this season, were celebrated before the game.
Taylor made her first start of the season and recorded the first score of the contest only 20 seconds in. However, that would remain the Longhorns’ only lead until Nneka Enemkpali tied the game at 12 with two shots at the line.
The full court press by the Mountaineers caused some trouble for Texas in the beginning of the half as turnovers were forced in their own back court. However, after getting used to this strong defensive strategy, the Longhorns were able to gain momentum.
Leads were exchanged until the last minute of the half where Texas scored two points off free throws and then a last minute lay-up with seconds left to secure a 24-20 lead going into the break.
The Longhorns then controlled the second half of the game when, except for a quick tie at 17:59, they held the lead for the entire period. The young team, which has struggled in conference play this season, went on a 20-6 run with a little more than 10 minutes left to play, which took them into the last minute.
“I thought the difference tonight was our execution in the second half,” head coach Karen Aston said. “We settled down and started getting the ball where it needed to be and started executing plays. Our execution was just a little better.”
Strong defensive play was prominent in the season finale for both teams as Texas held its opponent to 31.6 percent shooting while the team itself shot 45.5 percent from the floor.
The Longhorns held the Mountaineers to just four of their 13 attempts (30.8 percent) from the charity stripe.
As Texas looks ahead to the weekend when it travels to Dallas for the Big 12 Championship, Aston believes her team will come back strong from this season, taking it as a learning experience. All of her top players will be returning for at least one more attempt at a title.
“I don’t think there is a measuring amount for how much they have grown,” Aston said. “The biggest thing I take from this is the character of the people that we have returning. We’ve gotten so much better game after game after game.”
Published on March 6, 2013 as "Horns win, seniors shine".