Texas women’s basketball seniors show out on emotional senior day

Myah Taylor

Texas women’s basketball’s final home game against Oklahoma State on Sunday didn’t just signify the end of the 2019-20 regular season. For seniors on the team, the game also marked the end of a yearslong journey.

“When you come to college, you try to find yourself,” senior forward Joyner Holmes said. “And I think I’ve done just that. I’ve just grown into my personality and grown into the person I want to be and the woman I want to be when I leave this campus.”

A moment that had once seemed so far away had finally come. Holmes and the rest of the 2020 senior class — guards Sug Sutton, Jada Underwood and Lashann Higgs — stepped onto the court for their last start together at the Frank Erwin Center and left with an emotional 63-52 win.

The Cowgirls stuck with the Longhorns throughout the game, but Texas stayed the course, just like its core group of seniors have over the last few seasons.

“What I respect the most about this group is that they all had their ups and downs,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “But I think the thing that I appreciate the most is that they stuck it out, and in this day in age, that probably means more to a coach and to a program than anything.”

Higgs has stuck it out even longer than the others. Initially a member of the 2019 senior class, Higgs is in her fifth season with the Longhorns after forfeiting last year due to an ACL injury. 

But Holmes, Underwood and Sutton, who all entered the program at the same time in 2016, have adopted Higgs into the group. Graduate transfer Sophie Taylor also joined the cohort in October as a walk-on.

“I got to finish what I started,” Higgs said. “I would hope that I left a legacy that will encourage people to keep fighting throughout life and to just be that light to others, however that may be.”

Sunday was a celebration of all the seniors, regardless of how long they’d been with the program, and they went out on top. Before being honored along with their families and kind words from their teammates after the game, the seniors took care of Oklahoma State.

Holmes and Underwood combined for 18 of Texas’ 32 first half points. Sutton made some noise of her own in the second half, first with a steal she converted into two points, then two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.

When Texas had finally put the Cowgirls away in the late minutes of the game, Aston took the seniors off the court. As the future of the Texas women’s basketball program continued to play, the seniors hugged their coaches and waved to the crowd.

In the days leading up to her final home game of her Texas career, Holmes said she didn’t know if she’d cry after the game, as there would still be more basketball to play in the postseason. But after her team-leading 17-point performance on Sunday, Holmes, Sutton and the rest of their teammates shed plenty of tears.

“As a freshman, I honestly didn’t think we’d be in the position we’re in right now,” Sutton said. “We’ve been through a lot of adversity —a whole lot of adversity — and it’s just crazy to see where we’re at right now. We’re like women.”