No. 9 Texas women’s basketball routes Oklahoma State in Erwin Center’s final game, 65-50

Matthew Caldwell, Sports Reporter

After 45 years of playing in the Frank Erwin Center, No. 9 Texas put on one final show, defeating Oklahoma State 65–50 on Saturday. 

The 12,506 fans beckoned by head coach Vic Schaefer, who wanted his seniors to receive a proper send off from the Texas faithful, saw the Longhorns extend their win streak to eight games to close out the regular season.

“I wanted this, y’all. This is what I wanted for my kids,” Schaefer said as he addressed the crowd at center court after the game. “I wanted them to be able to experience this, because this is special.”

Schaefer had promised that if 10,000 fans attended Saturday’s game, he would donate $10,000 to the Neighborhood Longhorns Program. The head coach’s pledge was matched by former Texas football player Michael Huff and others, leading to an ultimate promise of $120,500 if fans “packed the Drum” on senior day.

The Longhorns came out aggressively, getting to the free-throw line early and often. They quickly found themselves in the bonus with over six minutes left in the first quarter and took full advantage, going 9-of-12 from the free-throw line. Pairing their ability to get to the stripe with their suffocating defense, Texas took little time in building up a sizable, early lead. Senior Lauren Ebo led the way with eight points in the first quarter, and the forward ended the game with 17 points, a new career high.

“I didn’t even know I got (the career high),” Ebo said. “I was just more caught up in the fact that it was senior day.”

Freshman guard Rori Harmon was efficient in the first half, shooting 5-of-6 for 11 points. But with 12 forced turnovers and 14 points off those turnovers, Texas’ defense was stifling on the other end as well. The Cowgirls were held to just 26% shooting in the first half, while the Longhorns separated themselves at a 55% clip.

As the second half got underway, the Longhorns looked to build on their 40–20 lead. But the beginning of the third quarter was a much tighter affair of back-and-forth play. Oklahoma State played stout defense and didn’t allow the Longhorns a basket in the final three minutes of the quarter, cutting the deficit to 53–37.

The game’s intensity reached another level with the start of the fourth quarter as Harmon threw an alley-oop to Ebo, but the Cowgirls answered right back on the other end with an and-1. After a loose ball, Texas fans held their breath as Harmon went down with an apparent injury and was helped off the court. She attempted to play through her injury but decided against it and subbed out seconds later. Without their leading scorer, the Longhorns would have to rally as the Cowgirls had cut the lead to 11 points.

Ebo finally put an end to Oklahoma State’s 13–4 run, bumping the lead back up to 13 with a layup. From there, the Longhorns’ defense stiffened and suffocated the Cowgirls’ offensive attack, forcing Oklahoma State to go the final 7:32 without a field goal. The Cowgirls only scored four more points from the free throw line the rest of the way. A couple of jump shots put the game on ice for the Longhorns to secure the victory.

Before the final buzzer sounded, Schaefer used a timeout to sub out Texas’ seniors, allowing the packed house its chance to salute the graduating Longhorns as they walked to the bench. Ebo, Audrey Warren and Joanne Allen-Taylor all addressed the crowd along with Schaefer after the game.

“It was easy to play knowing you have a whole crowd on your back,” Ebo said. 

Schaefer encouraged fans to continue the enthusiastic support of his team as Texas heads into the postseason.

“In two weeks, come back,” Schaefer said. “It’ll be the same product if not better.”

With the Longhorns’ 45-year tenure at “the Drum” complete, their final regular season win improved Texas’ record to 23-6. Next up for the ninth-ranked team in the country is the Big 12 Tournament beginning March 10 in Kansas City, Missouri.

“It was just like a great ending to a story,” Allen-Taylor said. “You always picture your senior day kind of like how it was today. It was really special to see everybody come out and show support.”