Longhorns advance; tourney hopes alive after beating Tigers

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For the fourth season in a row, Texas (19-12; 8-9) faced Missouri (13-11: 5-12) in the first round of the Big 12 tournament and, for the fourth time in a row, the Longhorns prevailed.

Texas, still hoping to prove its worth to the NCAA selection committee, showcased a balanced offensive attack with each starter scoring in double figures. Senior Kathleen Nash led the team with 16 points and freshman Chassidy Fussell added 13 of her own.

Junior Yvonne Anderson continued her recent good play and contributed 12 points — the 20th time she has scored in double-digits this season. Prior to this year, she had only posted double-digit points six times.

Junior Ashley Gayle also boasts a little streak of strong play, which she continued on Tuesday. She posted her seventh double-double of the season with 11 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, and it was her second double-double in the last three games.

“She has been working so hard in practice lately,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors, referring to Gayle’s elevated play a couple of games back. “I’m so happy for her.”

The Longhorns have reached the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament every year under Goestenkors but have yet to win it all. This year they are hoping to change that trend, but the road to victory is no easy task in this conference.

“The depth from top to bottom is just unmatched,” Goestenkors said of the Big 12.

Tired legs and all, Texas faces the league’s second-best team, Texas A&M, today. The Aggies were granted a bye in the first round of play so they will certainly be rested. The Longhorns lost both match-ups against the Aggies earlier in the season, but the most recent game was close.

Texas dropped the game 68-65 in Austin when they battled two weeks ago and might have had the chance for an upset had they played a better first half.

To the Longhorns, the conference tournament is a new season and a chance for redemption, but they will undoubtedly have a tall order ahead.