Senior guard Lashann Higgs was driving to the basket for a layup when she suffered an injury to her knee in a Friday night road game against Quinnipiac last November. Texas would leave Estero, Florida with a win, but the Longhorns would lose Higgs to a torn ACL for the rest of the season.
The injury left Texas without its leading scorer and forced Higgs to forfeit her senior year. As she waited for the Big 12’s decision on her hardship waiver, the guard’s future with the Longhorns remained uncertain. But good news came in August when the conference granted Higgs another year of eligibility for another shot at her senior season.
Head coach Karen Aston said in September that Higgs spent significant time in the off-season working to get back up to basketball speed. The next step for Higgs, Aston said, would just be to trust her knee.
“With every injury, it takes time to get that sort of confidence back,” Higgs said. “Every day, with every practice, with every game, it comes back more and more.”
Aside from the large brace on her left leg, there seems to be no sign of Higgs’ injury. On Wednesday against UT-Rio Grande Valley, Higgs posted her second career double-double with 11 points and a career-high 12 rebounds. Then on Sunday afternoon, almost exactly a year after hurting her knee, Higgs moved up the middle for a layup in the first quarter of Texas’ game against Southern. But this time, the play resulted in two points on the board rather than heartbreak.
Higgs hasn’t played scared. Several times Sunday, she got herself involved in the paint, snagging rebounds and fighting for the ball on defense. On the perimeter, Higgs also contested shots. In one play, she extended her arm in the face of a Southern player attempting to shoot. The ball soared over Higgs and brushed the rim before being rebounded by Texas.
“I think she’s starting to get comfortable,” Aston said. “It’s funny, but yesterday I left practice thinking she kind of looked like herself in practice … as did a few of our players. But it just takes time … to get used to the timing of playing the game, and physicality might be a little bit different.”
While Higgs only contributed six points in Texas’ 93-39 victory over Southern, she did her part by getting her teammates involved. Assists to sophomore center Charli Collier and sophomore guard Joanne Allen-Taylor set Texas up to score points from the three-point line and in the paint.
Now five games into her new senior season, Higgs said she’s grateful for the opportunity to be back out on the court and be a voice for her teammates. After Texas’ blowout win, Higgs grabbed a microphone and thanked the fans in the Frank Erwin Center for coming to the game before greeting some of them on the sidelines.
“It feels great,” Higgs said. “I mean, I’ve been out for almost a year and for so long. And just to be back out here with my teammates and the coaches and to be able to play in front of the fans again is a great feeling.”