Texas gets Senior Day win, seal 3-seed in Big 12 tournament

Robert Trevino

For most of Sunday’s final regular-season game against Oklahoma State, it seemed as though Texas couldn’t shake the visiting Cowgirls. While the Longhorns led for nearly three quarters, their lead never felt safe until the final few minutes, as they finally pulled away on senior day with a 63-52 win.

With five seniors being honored in the last regular-season home game, the Longhorns put together an inspired performance, most notably senior forward Joyner Holmes, who put up a team-leading 17 points as well as 10 rebounds to cap off a storied career. Emotions were high even before the game, as the Longhorns retired number 24 in honor of Clarissa Davis, one of the legends from Texas’ 1986 national championship team.

“We just kind of played for something bigger than ourselves,” Holmes said. The senior forward, who wears number 24, will be the last to do so for the Longhorns. “I think we played for each other, most importantly, but we just knew we had to get a win. I just think we had to go out for the people that played before us, seeing (Davis) before the game … really motivated all of us.”

The game tilted in the Longhorns’ favor for most of the second half, but the visiting Cowgirls never showed signs of letting up. That is, until senior guard Sug Sutton drilled her second 3-pointer of the afternoon with 2:33 remaining to give the Longhorns a ten-point lead and seal the deal.

“It was a big moment, a special moment,” Sutton said. “That shot kind of got the crowd going. … I don’t know how to describe it, it’s like you can’t even describe the feeling. I was trying to hold back emotions the whole fourth quarter, honestly.”

Emotions were running high all afternoon in the Frank Erwin Center, as Sunday was not only a culmination of the seniors’ careers, but also the culmination of this year’s team, something that Aston made a point of after the game.

“You have to develop (trust), and I think that they’re beginning to trust each other better,” Aston said. “(Those) are things that are developed throughout a season. I thought we went through a stretch in the middle of conference play where it didn’t look like they had trust in each other to make the right play, and it looks to me like they’re in a much better place with that (now), and that’s a really good thing.”

The Longhorns’ win secured a third-place finish in the Big 12. Texas will end up facing sixth-seed West Virginia in Kansas City, Missouri, in the Big 12 Tournament. The two squads split their regular season matchups, with both of the home teams winning. 

Although Aston’s team looks to be sealed into a seventh straight NCAA Tournament appearance, a rubber match victory would leave no doubt for the Longhorns heading into the postseason.

“I think (this tournament) is really huge,” Holmes said. “Everybody comes to play, a few years ago West Virginia won the whole thing and nobody was picking them to win. So you know, (we just have to) continue to do the same things we’ve been doing the last few games, and I think we’ll be okay.”