The Texas women’s basketball team may have fallen to Iowa State 69-51 Wednesday night, but that didn’t stop those in the Frank Erwin Center from celebrating the legacies of UT’s black athletes.
To commemorate Black History Month, the Longhorns ran on to the court before the game clad in black t-shirts reading “History Makers” across the front. On the back of the tee was the last name of Texas’ first African American women’s basketball player, Retha Swindell.
“(Swindell) spoke to us before the game and gave us some pointers after shoot around,” sophomore center Charli Collier said. “It was nice talking to her and getting some words of wisdom.”
Swindell sported the burnt orange and white from 1975-1979 and became the program’s first All-American. This Longhorn history maker, inducted into the UT Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001, is Texas’ all-time leader in rebounds with 1,759.
Before a rendition of both the “Black National Anthem” and “The National Anthem,” performed by an all-Black choir, senior point guard Sug Sutton was gifted with a basketball to honor her 1,000 point achievement.
“It felt amazing to be honored tonight with my teammates and coaches,” Sutton said. “I worked really hard to get to this position, so I’m really honored and really grateful for it.”
In addition to Swindell, who received a standing ovation once she took the court, the team honored five other Texas women’s basketball black history makers during halftime: Annette Smith Knight (1981-1986), Clarissa Davis( 1985-1989), Ariel Atkins (2014-2018), Beverly Williams (1984-1988) and Rodney Page (1973-1976).
Page, the programs’ inaugural and first black coach, led the Longhorns to a 38-17 record during his first two seasons on the Forty Acres. Also in attendance, Page joined Swindell on the court as the crowd cheered them on.
In contrast to the high-energy halftime performance from UT’s all-Black Unity Step Team, Texas was sluggish out of the locker room, only knocking down six of 21 shot attempts. The fourth quarter wasn’t much better, as they went 1-for-13 from the three-point line.
“It was just one of those nights shots weren’t falling, shot selection wasn’t the best,” Collier said. “There (in Ames), we played great. We played great at Iowa State, so it’s just one of those games.”
Texas dropped its fourth conference and home game of the season and has now fallen to 15–8 with seven games left on the schedule. The Longhorns honored its Black athletes with zeal, but Wednesday’s 18-point home loss was nothing to celebrate.
“We’ve been able to keep our spirits in games,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “I don’t really have an explanation for our attitudes and our body language. I don’t really have any excuses for this performance at all. There are no excuses for it.”