Texas’s tournament run comes to an end in 62-34 Elite Eight loss to South Carolina

Taylor Hawthorne

The impressive and unlikely tournament run by Texas came to an end Tuesday night against No.1 seed South Carolina. 

Texas tried to fight back from a double-digit deficit for most of the game but fell short as it was unable to make shots and stop the electric Gamecock offense. Nothing has proved more important this NCAA tournament than the Texas guard play, which was evident in this Elite Eight matchup.

“After the first quarter, we were just trying to regroup,” graduate transfer Kyra Lambert said. “Credit to South Carolina. They guarded us how we like to guard. It just wasn’t our night.”  

The recently dynamic guard trio of Lambert, junior Joanne Allen-Taylor and sophomore Celeste Taylor shot a combined 17%.

The third quarter gave Texas some momentum after going on a 9-0 run to pull within 10 points but couldn’t keep the Gamecocks’ baskets from falling. Texas went scoreless in the last 12 minutes, missing 20 straight shots, and South Carolina pulled away in the fourth quarter to secure the win.

Despite the heartbreaking loss, the growth this team saw this season won’t be clouded by this one game. Texas’s resilience is something to be proud of, head coach Vic Schaefer said. 

“This will go down, currently, after 36 years of coaching, as one of the most I’ve ever seen a team grow and change,” Schaefer said. “From where we were from our first game in November to where we are today, we didn’t give in.” 

The unprecedented season –– dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, new players and a new coaching staff –– had Texas slated to struggle, but the Longhorns proved the world wrong with their outing at the NCAA tournament.  

“The one thing (Schaefer) told me in my recruiting process was, ‘We’re not going to wait to win,’” Lambert said. “It’s a new program, new culture, new players. We’re exactly where we wanted to be. Nobody picked us, nobody chose us, and here we are.” 

Lambert and junior forward Charli Collier will both exit the program, but the veteran role the two played will have a lasting effect. 

“Kyra and Charli — those are two kids that made me a better coach, made me a better father, husband, person,” Schaefer said. “Those are two people who challenge you and at the same time, I’ve seen them grow and mature. They’re going to be great.”

The emotions for Lambert and her teammates can’t be put into words, but Lambert was sure to let everyone know how proud she is to be part of this team. The graduate transfer held her jersey up, displaying the white “Texas” letters across her uniform during the postgame press conference.

“It’s such a privilege to be a part of this program, to be a part of this team, (and) to have Texas across my chest,” Lambert said.

Surrounded by the devoted Longhorn fans cheering loudly from the stands of the Alamodome, Texas exits the biggest stage in college basketball with the bar set high for the next season.

“This is the standard,” Schaefer said. “If I’m doing my job, we’re playing on March 30 every year. If they’re doing their job as student-athletes, we’re practicing and playing every March 30. That’s what we do at Texas. We’re playing at the NCAA tournament.”