Ashley Gayle

Quick shots: Texas loses to Stanford, 72-59

The Longhorns lost their first season opener with coach Gail Goestenkor’ at the helm tonight, as the No. 5 Stanford Cardinal prevailed by a score of 72-59. Texas looked sloppy throughout the game, turning the ball over 15 times and shooting miserable 34 percent from the field.


Reeding the Defense
One of the team’s biggest offensive issues throughout the game was Stanford’s double-team pressure of Cokie Reed. The 6-foot-4 Reed, who was playing in her first game back after missing last season due to injury, drew double teams in the post, but the team failed to take advantage on several occasions.
“I’ve learned that I need to look for my guards when the double team does arrive, because they’re going to be open,” Reed said.
Reed logged a career-high 31 minutes in the game and will likely be expected to put in similar minutes as the season wears on.
“I have to be able to stay on the court for longer without getting tired, just get in shape,” she said.


Shooting Woes
Texas struggled mightily to shoot the ball throughout the game. As a team, the Longhorns shot just 34 percent from the field, including an atrocious 1-11 from behind the arc. Senior starters Ashley Gayle, Yvonne Anderson and Ashleigh Fontenette didn’t exactly set an example for the younger players, as they combined to shoot just six of 21 from the field. Sophomore Chassidy Fussell, who led the team with 17 points, was just 5-for-14, while Reed went 5-for-12. Anne Marie Hartung, who was 3-for-5, was the only player on the team to shoot better than 50 percent.
“Today it was not falling for us,” Goestenkors said. “That’s that part where our guards have to be ready to shoot the ball. If people are going to double on Cokie, we’re going to get wide-open looks. We need to focus on picking and choosing when to shoot, being ready to shoot and expecting to make it.


Senior Struggles
A combination of poor shooting and foul trouble led to a poor showing from Texas’ three veterans.
Ashley Gayle got in foul trouble early, turned the ball over four times and failed to score a single point in her 19 minutes on the court.
“We need Ashley to be a great rebounder for us," Goestenkors said. "If Cokie’s going to demand the double team, she should be licking her chops because she just needs to crash the glass on the weak side. Her scoring will go up once she understands she needs to dominate on the offensive glass, that’s where she’s going to get her points.”

Yvonne Anderson and Ashleigh Fontenette shot just 33 percent from the field and were a combined 0-for-5 from behind the arc.


Hartung Surprises
A bright spot for Texas on Friday night was sophomore post Anne Marie
Hartung. The Bowling Green, Missouri, product scored 10 points and picked up six rebounds while turning the ball over only once in her 21 minutes.
“Anne Marie didn’t play that well early on but overall she did a great job filling in for Ashley when she got in foul trouble,” said Goestenkors.


Star-Studded Crowd
Friday night’s energetic crowd of 4,697 will probably be the biggest the Frank Erwin Center sees for a women’s basketball game until Baylor visits on January 15.
The stars were also out in full force on Friday night as former Longhorn Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 overall pick in this summer's NBA Draft, was in the crowd along with highly-touted freshman point guard Myck Kabongo and several other players from the men’s team.


Injury Report
Freshman guard Cassie Peoples went down in the second half with what is being described as a mild right ankle sprain.
Stanford All-American Nnemkadi Ogwumike was inactive for Friday’s game with an upper-body injury but she is expected to be back for Stanford’s game on Sunday.

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

Experience and smart offensive possessions are the main ingredients in the Longhorns’ recipe to success this postseason. Senior guard Yvonne Anderson seems to be in all-out beast mode after a career night in her last game. If she can limit turnovers and take the wheel in the Longhorns transition offense, Texas has a chance to sneak up on some teams.

Sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell and senior guard Ashleigh Fontenette both benefit when Anderson is playing her best. Fussell is able to spot up and get her shot going and if Anderson can continue to score as much as she has, it takes some of the pressure off of Fussell.

Fontenette seems to feed off Anderson’s energy as well and is able to either run the point when Anderson needs a rest, or play on the wing where she can also knock down deep shots. Coach Gail Goestenkors summed up her thoughts on what her team needs to do to in order to avoid another early exit from the NCAA Tournament.

“I think the seniors have set the tone,” Goestenkors said. “I’m very happy for them because they deserve this, and they wanted to make sure that they will be going to the NCAA Tournament and they’re doing everything in their power to make that happen.”

Turnovers have plagued this team from the very first game of the season. Anderson’s recent play has resulted in a considerable drop in turnovers, but the team still averages nearly 16 per game. Turnovers can’t become a hallmark of the Longhorns offense, as mistakes in March are only magnified.

Texas has had some issues rebounding at times this year as well, especially against the nation’s best teams. When a team is getting outrebounded, it tends to start to foul more, which has also been an area of concern for the Longhorns at times. Senior post Ashley Gayle leads the team in Rasheed Wallace’s favorite category: foul outs (five).

Overall, this is a pretty well-rounded team both inside and out of the paint, but Texas has shown a propensity of very streaky shooting performances. The team has shot around 41 percent from the field for the year, but when the shots aren’t falling, the Longhorns can get a little careless with their shot selection. It all goes back to smart decisions on the offensive end as the key to the Longhorns’ postseason survival chances.

Signature wins: Virginia, California, Michigan State, Texas A&M (2), Oklahoma

Bad losses: Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas (2)

Key players:
Fussell, Anderson and Fontenette need to score near their season averages to keep the Longhorns in any game. Players like freshman forward Nneka Enemkpali will have a chance to shine as well. Enemkpali is fresh off a career-high 14-rebound performance against the Aggies and was the Longhorns’ second leading rebounder in conference play at 5.6 boards per game.

“She’s very athletic,” Gayle said of the freshman. “And I think she’s figured out the angles to rebounding and how to rebound at this level. I think she’s doing a great job.”

Gayle herself is also a player to keep an eye on. Gayle is the most experienced, but maybe the least offensively inclined of all the Longhorns post players. She’s averaged about five points and six rebounds this season. But, Gayle averages nearly three blocked shots per game which provides a presence down low that can’t be taken for granted.

Sophomore Chelsea Bass has been a reliable scoring option coming off the bench and has shown explosive attributes with the ball in her hands. Bass has played through some injuries this year, but is second on the team in free-throw percentage (.738).

Quotes to note:

“They hurt us with the guard play,” said A&M head coach Gary Blair after the Aggies’ latest loss to the Longhorns.

“They hurt us with the pick-and-roll. They hurt us with the offensive boards. They hurt us with energy.”

“We’ve started turning the corner, and we’re going in a different direction from the past,” Fontenette said. “I think [the program] is going to definitely build on this going into the next couple of years.”

Ashley Gayle and the rest of the Longhorns senior class will lead the team into Texas A&M for the last time, as conference foes. The seniors would like nothing more than a win over their rivals to end their regular season careers, and add to their tournament resumes.

Photo Credit: Sa Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Texas’ seniors could not have drawn up a more dramatic departure.

The veteran trio will play their final game at the Frank Erwin Center on Sunday in what will also be the last Big 12 meeting between the Longhorns and storied rival No. 17 Texas A&M (20-8, 11-6 Big 12). Factor in the must-win nature of the contest and you get one heck of a storyline.

“Obviously there’s a lot riding on this game,” said senior Ashley Gayle. ”There are just so many emotions in a game like this. We’re all very excited. It’s always fun to play A&M, and we beat them last time out so that’s huge for our confidence.”

The Longhorns (17-12, 7-10 Big 12) defeated the Aggies in College Station in early January and will need to come up with another big upset this weekend as they look to boost their NCAA tournament resume before heading to Kansas City for the Big 12 Championships.

Considering the struggles that head coach Gail Goestenkors and her senior class have had against the Aggies, a season sweep would be a great a way to go out.

“The rivalry is pretty intense,” Goestenkors said. “Not just since we’ve been here, but for more than 100 years, these two schools have been battling it out. We’re fortunate to have the opportunity to play in the last ever Big 12 game between us two. It’s going to be a statement game just like it was when our football team beat theirs earlier this year.”

Prior to this year’s victory, Texas’ senior trio of Gayle, Ashleigh Fontenette and Yvonne Anderson were 0-6 against Texas A&M, while Goestenkors was also win-less at 0-8.

“To finally get a win this year was definitely the high point in the rivalry for me,” Fontenette said. “It had just been so long since we beat them. We’d come close a few times, but to finally get that win under our belts this year was huge for our confidence.”

This year’s senior crop also holds a special place in Longhorn history as they were coach Goestenkors’ first recruiting class. As Goestenkors looked to build upon the team that former head coach and Longhorn legend Jody Conradt had left behind, she made a lasting impression on the trio and was a big part of why they chose Texas.

“Coach Goestenkors’ hire really got the ball rolling for us,” Anderson said. “Obviously the academic staff, the campus, the city of Austin and the fans all had to do with why we chose Texas, but to have the opportunity to play for a coach like Gail [Goestenkors] was just such an honor.”

While there have been several moments over the past four years that have helped these seniors develop the tight-knit relationship they currently enjoy, perhaps the biggest moment came just a couple of weeks ago, before the Baylor game. Just prior to tip-off, Goestenkors sat all three seniors down and talked to them about what they need to do to finish off their careers the right way.

“[Goestenkors] just talked to us about having no regrets,” Fontenette said. “We just want to leave it all on the court. We don’t want to have to look back and feel like we didn’t do enough. Ever since that conversation, we’ve taken it one game at a time and we’ve poured our heart into everything we do on the court.”

Texas has won two of three games since that night, with both wins coming in a convincing fashion. If they can find a way to win one more, these seniors might just create a new favorite memory.

“We’ve done some pretty cool things since I’ve been here,” Gayle said. “Going to the Virgin Islands and our trip to Europe were both a lot of fun, but to sweep A&M on senior night, that would probably be a pretty cool experience.”

Printed on Friday, March 2, 2012 as: Seniors look for victory in team's last trip to A&M

Chassidy Fussell scans the defense in the LonghornÂ’s win over Oklahoma on Saturday. The sophomore matched a career-high with 30 points.

Photo Credit: Sa Wang | Daily Texan Staff

Head coach Gail Goestenkors got her 100th victory at Texas as the Longhorns were able to stay in the NCAA Tournament hunt with an 87-62 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners (18-10, 10-6) at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday.

Goestenkors' milestone victory couldn’t have come at a better time as the Longhorns were in a must-win situation against the Sooners in the annual “Shoot for a Cure” game. With the win, Texas improved to 6-10 in Big 12 play and 16-12 overall.

“The most important win was this win,” Goestenkors said. “I don't care if it’s number 100 or number one, it's the most important one. We played with a sense of urgency that you would expect from a team in our position.”

Texas played with an intensity and work ethic that had been absent during its recent two-game slump. The Longhorns were diving for loose balls, fighting for rebounds and refusing to be outworked from the tip to the final whistle.

“We came out, and we knew our backs were against the wall,” sophomore Chelsea Bass said, who tied her season high with 13 points. “Defensively we worked our butts off. When we work hard and have fun, we're a tough team to stop. We went to work on both ends of the court and we just had fun.”

Led by Yvonne Anderson's career-high eight steals and Ashley Gayle's six blocks, the Longhorns forced 25 turnovers. Texas had 25 points off turnovers compared to the Sooners’ six.

“It’s good for our confidence,” Goestenkors said. “We just worked so hard. This game just showed what can happen for us when we all put forth a supreme effort.”

Texas' performance was by far its strongest against a conference opponent this season. The Longhorns' 87 points were the most they've scored in a Big 12 game this year, and the 25-point margin of victory was their biggest win thus far in league play.

“We came out and set the tone,” Goestenkors said. “It was a tremendous team effort. Everybody really played well, played together and played hard. We were determined tonight, and we sustained that energy for 40 minutes.”

Texas' offensive attack was led by sophomore Chassidy Fussell's career-high 30 points. The sophomore shot 45 percent from the field (10 of 22) and made all seven free throw attempts.

“My teammates were great tonight,” Fussell said. “They know when and where to give me the ball. Yvonne [Anderson] and Ashleigh [Fontenette] were able to find me when I was open. It had a lot to do with my teammates out there tonight.”

Although Fussell stood above the rest, Texas got points from eight of its nine players, including double-digit numbers from Fontenette (18), Bass (13) and Anderson (12). Gayle led the team with six assists.

“We always welcome points from anybody,” Goestenkors said. “We had great balance tonight. One or two people aren't going to win games for us. We need to have balanced scoring, and tonight we did that.”

Sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell dribbles past a defender during the Longhorns 64-53 win over the Red Raiders. Fussell scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Longhorns to a big win over their oldest rival. Texas now holds a 61-26 advantage in the all-time series.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

For the first time since 2011, the Longhorns have won consecutive games.

Texas (15-10, 5-8 Big 12) got one step closer to the NCAA tournament with a much-needed 63-54 victory over Texas Tech (17-8, 5-8 Big 12) at the Frank Erwin Center on Wednesday night. The win gives the Longhorns their first multiple-game win streak since they won five in a row to close out their nonconference schedule.

“Obviously we didn’t start out the conference [schedule] like we wanted to,” said sophomore guard Chassidy Fussell. “But it feels pretty good to get this two-game win streak.”

The two squads, who are now tied in the Big 12 standings, were tied seven times, traded leads five times and went back and forth all night. But in the final five minutes, Texas took over. A few big shots from Fussell and Ashleigh Fontenette, combined with a couple key blocks from Ashley Gayle, swung the momentum in the Longhorns’ favor as they were able to pull away down the stretch.

“There was a tremendous determination not to lose this game,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “Our team as a whole, and our guards in particular, made up their mind that we were not going to lose this one.”

The Longhorns got a huge boost from Fontenette and Fussell, who each played all 40 minutes. Fontenette had 19 points and 10 rebounds to earn her second double-double of the year and fourth of her career. Fussell had a game-high 20 points, made three of five shots from beyond the arc and hit all five of her free throws. The Longhorns were a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, giving them their first flawless free throw performance of the season.

“I thought the two of them [Fontenette and Fussell] played very well,” Goestenkors said. “Ashleigh played like a warrior the entire game and was not going to let her team lose this game. Chassidy had a couple big buckets down the stretch and I think that was the back breaker for them.”

For the first time in a long while, the Longhorns also dominated in the post.

Texas out-rebounded the Lady Raiders, 44-33, and scored 34 points in the paint while holding Texas Tech to just 14.

“Our posts were determined to have a greater effort here tonight,” Goestenkors said. “It was a total team effort from our posts. They wanted to do a better job tonight and they definitely did.”

The interior unit of Gayle, Nneka Enemkpali, Anne Marie Hartung and Cokie Reed pulled down a combined 21 rebounds, including a career-high 12 from Hartung, and blocked seven shots, four more than the entire Lady Raider team.

The victory over Texas Tech puts the Longhorns back in the NCAA tournament conversation as they head to Manhattan, Kan. for a big matchup with Kansas State this Saturday. With both Baylor and Texas A&M left on the schedule, and only five games before the conference tournament, Texas will need to make it three in a row to keep their tournament hopes alive.

“We have to keep our foot on the gas,” Goestenkors said. “We’ve been able to get a couple big wins over teams that beat us the first time around and now we need to go to Kansas State and get another one.”

Printed on Thursday, February 16, 2012 as: Horns handle Red Raiders, split season series

Ashley Gayle (22) became Texas' all-time leader in blocks during the team's win on Sunday. She had seven total blocks.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Dillon | Daily Texan Staff

In its most impressive showing of the young season, Texas stormed out to a 21-0 lead in the first seven minutes against an undersized Alcorn State squad.

The Longhorns never looked back and were able to dominate the Lady Braves with a final score of 74-42 to earn their second win of the year.

“I was really pleased with the way we started the game,” head coach Gail Goestenkors said. “I thought our energy, focus and our intensity was really good.”

From the opening tip, the Longhorns came out playing zone defense, and it caused the Lady Braves absolute fits in the preliminary stages of the game. Texas forced several early turnovers and made it clear this game wasn’t going to be as close as the Longhorns’ first two contests of the season.

Senior guard Yvonne Anderson got off to a quick start, knocking down two early three-pointers. She led all scorers with 19 points and also dished out eight assists.

Sophomore guard Chelsea Bass saw her first action of the season, playing 18 minutes and adding nine points. She was needed earlier in the game than she might have anticipated, as sophomore Chassidy Fussell and Anderson got into a bit of foul trouble in the first half.

The Lady Braves (0-3) never seemed to find their rhythm and were held without a basket until the 11-minute mark in the first half. The duo of senior Ashley Gayle and sophomore Cokie Reed combined for 11 blocks on the night.

No block was more impressive than Gayle’s emphatic rejection just two minutes into in the first quarter. It was her 290th career block, making her the all-time leader at Texas.

“To be able to put a mark on Texas history like that means a lot,” Gayle said. “That was a major goal of mine the last couple of years.”

Gayle and Reed essentially shut down the Lady Braves’ inside game and forced them to shoot more three-point shots in an attempt to catch up. It was to no avail — the Lady Braves shot just 25 percent from beyond the arc for the game and struggled with the size of the Longhorns.

“Ashley has been a great defender for us, and she takes a lot of pride in her defense,” Goestenkors said. “She gets into the head of some great post players, and it really affects their game.”

Texas will need more of the same from Gayle as it heads to Hawaii to face some of the nation’s top teams in the Waikiki Beach Marriott Rainbow Wahine Showdown after Thanksgiving. The Longhorns’ next opponent, Virginia, is 4-0 so far and is coming off a huge overtime upset of No. 3 Tennessee, who also happens to be in the tournament.

Printed on Monday, November 21, 2011 as: Anderson scores 19 points in victory

Ashleigh Fontenette brings the ball up the floor during TexasÂ’ 73-65 win over Southeastern Louisiana Monday. Fontenette scored a team-high 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field.

Photo Credit: Jorge Corona | Daily Texan Staff

It wasn’t pretty. Some might have even called it ugly, but the Longhorns left the Frank Erwin Center with their first victory of the season on Monday night.

Despite missing 10 layups, turning the ball over 21 times and nearly blowing a 15-point lead down the stretch, Texas was able to beat the visiting Southeastern Louisiana Lady Lions, 73-65.

“It was very difficult to see that many turnovers,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “It’s hard to watch. They weren’t forced turnovers. They were a very scrappy team but a lot of our turnovers were just mental errors, lack of focus.”

With sophomores Cokie Reed and Chassidy Fussell struggling, it was up to the team’s three seniors to pick up the slack.

Senior guards Ashleigh Fontenette and Yvonne Anderson combined to score 37 points while shooting 15-of-23 from the field, including 5-of-8 from behind the arc. Anderson, who logged a team-high 39 minutes, added six assists and forced three turnovers on the defensive end.

“Minutes don’t really bother me,” Anderson said. “Anyone will tell you that I’m not really a fan of coming out so it wasn’t a huge deal for me. I’m definitely trying to lead this team.”

Forward Ashley Gayle, also a senior, had a big impact, despite being held without a field goal. One of the best shot blockers in the country, Gayle had five on Monday night, moving her into a tie for the school record for career blocks with 289.

“Ashley’s one of our best defensive players, a great shot blocker obviously, and she had a huge block down the stretch as well. So we definitely want her in on defense.”

Gayle’s block came with under three minutes left in the game and stopped a Lady Lions offense that had scored 12 points on its previous four possessions.

Despite being up by 15 points with just over six minutes to play, the Longhorns gave up 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions followed by a Southeastern Louisiana three-point play on an inside layup that brought them within six. On the following inbounds play, Anne Marie Hartung’s pass was intercepted and turned into another quick three by the Lady Lions, making it a three point game.

That was as close as they’d get. From there, the Longhorns were able to take control of the tempo and rotate Hartung and Gayle in and out of the game, with Hartung in on offense and Gayle coming on in defensive situations.

“We wanted Anne Marie in the game on offense because she’s a pretty good free throw shooter,” said Goestenkors. “Ashley Gayle is getting better but she’s not one of our best so we felt that if Ashley was in on offense, they were going to foul her.”

Freshman Cassie Peoples and sophomore Chelsea Bass were both medically cleared to play in the game, however, Goestenkors held them on the sidelines because they were unable to practice over the weekend.

“They should be back by Sunday’s game,” Goestenkors said. “They’ve got some days to get some practice in and I’m expecting them back.”

Printed on Tuesday, November 15, 2011 as: Longhorns squeak by SE Louisiana for first victory

Terri Givens, UT Government professor, hugs her kids during the launching of her clothing line Take Back the Trail. The clothing line will create fitness programs for minority women.

Photo Credit: Guillermo Hernandez | Daily Texan Staff

Blue, pink and black shirts emblazoned with a cowgirl boot or a high-heel shoe will help fund a fitness program geared toward minority women in Austin.

Associate government professor Terri Givens launched Take Back the Trail, a “socially conscious fitness apparel line,” Monday and plans to expand the line in the future.

Among women, obesity rates are highest for blacks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“You go down to Town Lake and there’s thousands of people running around the trail, and I’ve always noticed there aren’t many people of color,” Givens said. “I don’t want people to see fitness as just something for the elite or wealthy.”

Health promotion senior Ashley Gayle said she became interested in Take Back the Trail when Givens told her about the concept in her office hours.

“I really like the heel look,” Gayle said. “I’m kind of a girly girl. I like that you can have a fashionable shirt, but you can sweat in it. It’s cute and it makes a statement.”

Gayle, a center on the UT women’s basketball team, volunteered at the launch for the line. The company is looking for more volunteers to help with the fitness initiative.

Austin Woman magazine sponsored the launch event for Take Back the Trail, and this month’s issue of the magazine features Givens in the cover article.

Apparel sales will fund 12-week fitness sessions that will cater to 30-40 minority women to help them improve their fitness and nutrition. At the end of the sessions the participants will have the opportunity to walk or run in a 5K.

A pilot program will start in August with another session planned for the spring.

“My main goal is to get them to realize fitness is something they can fit into their lives and that proper nutrition isn’t out of reach,” Givens said.

Plans for the community initiative include cooking demonstrations, information about where to buy healthy and inexpensive foods, and possibly vouchers for farmers markets. Executive Director Bridget Bailey said the company’s slogan, “take back your heart, health and community” is central to its social initiative.

“We really want to connect the people who already are dedicated to fitness to those who desire to do the same,” Bailey said. “This is not a handout, but a hand up. We’re really interested in how to tackle social issues with business.”

Psychology graduate student Desiré Taylor researches African-American women and body image.

“The heart is really the foundation and that’s the psychological aspect of being healthy,” she said.

Taylor attended the launch event and said she was interested in an organization that could be a health and empowerment resource for minority women.

“I’m noticing a lot of diversity around the room, and if this is a community-based group then it’s awesome that they’re bringing people in from different backgrounds, because they will be more effective in reaching out to different people in the community,” Taylor said.

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.