Yvonne Anderson turned in the best performance of her career on Sunday afternoon.
In her final home game as a Longhorn and in Texas' last scheduled meeting with Texas A&M, the senior guard helped Texas keep its NCAA tournament hopes alive.
Anderson had a career-high 25 points and added nine assists and three steals as the Longhorns defeated the Aggies, 79-64, in the final game of the regular season. The win gave Texas head coach Gail Goestenkors her first season sweep of Texas A&M since taking over the program prior to the 2007-2008 season.
“Texas played with a sense of urgency today,” said Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair. “It all starts with guard play, and their guards were just a lot better than ours. [Yvonne] Anderson played like she was playing for mom and dad today. And that was the biggest key in the ball game.”
With his team's regular season schedule complete, Anderson's dad, Mike, who is the head men's basketball coach at Arkansas, got the chance to see his daughter play for the first time this season.
“It's pretty special,” Anderson said before the game. “I don't want to put any more pressure on myself. The fact that he gets to come on our senior night versus A&M is pretty exciting.”
Anderson wasn't the only one to go out in style at the Frank Erwin Center on Sunday.
Ashley Gayle and Ashleigh Fontenette, the other two Texas seniors honored before the game, each played a big role in the victory. Gayle had five rebounds, four points and three steals while Fontenette had 11 points and three assists.
“I'm really proud of the seniors,” Goestenkors said. “They've done a great job when we had our backs against the wall in particular. 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.”
Just a couple of weeks ago, after being blown out by No. 1 Baylor, it looked as if the Longhorns had let their tournament hopes slip away. Texas was a paltry 5-10 in conference play and, with tough opponents like Oklahoma and Texas A&M still left on the schedule, looked to be NIT bound.
But much has changed since then.
The Longhorns have won three in a row, by an average of 18 points each, and may have locked up a spot in the Big Dance.
“We've been playing inspired basketball these last few games,” Goestenkors said. “We're really peaking at the right time.”
With the odds already in their favor, the Longhorns will look to cement their spot in the field of 64 with a strong showing in this weekend's Big 12 Championships in Kansas City. Texas enters the tournament as the eighth seed and will face ninth seeded Texas Tech in the tournament opener on Wednesday evening. The winner of that game will face Baylor on Thursday.
“You don't want to take any chances and put the call into anyone else's hands,” Goestenkors said. “We still feel that we need to go to the tournament and represent and do well.”
Printed on Monday, March 5, 2012 as: UT ends rivalry in style