Texas women’s basketball feels the effects of uncertainty in crushing season-ending loss

Emma Hutchinson, Senior Sports Reporter

Sliding its name onto the second round bracket slot after taking down East Carolina on Saturday, Texas women’s basketball moved one step closer to making yet another Sweet Sixteen appearance. 

However, the Longhorns saw their demise earlier than expected, exiting the NCAA tournament during the second round on Monday night after suffering a 73-51 loss against the Louisville Cardinals.

This came as a surprise for many as Texas had a positive feeling going into the matchup, including graduate guard Sonya Morris making her return and the team being able to compete in its home arena. But for others who have watched the Longhorns throughout the regular season, tonight was just an accumulation of every struggle the program has faced.  

The softness and guilt heard in head coach Vic Schaefer’s voice during the postgame press conference was evidence enough of the swirling emotions felt after the matchup. 

“I just need to apologize to the University of Texas for today and how my team played,” Schaefer said. “This University deserves better than that.”              

Louisville came out with an unsuspecting burst of energy, gaining an early lead in the first quarter thanks to three Texas turnovers. Communication issues among the team and a demanding defense from the Cardinals left the Longhorns unable to keep possession of the ball.     

To get things rolling, sophomore guard Rori Harmon took charge, giving Texas its first five points. Swooping in alongside her was junior forward DeYona Gaston, who put up three layups within the second quarter in an effort to alleviate the Longhorns’ ten-point deficit.    

As halftime creeped up, Louisville’s lead seemed to set in. Texas was held to only seven points by the end of the second quarter while the Cardinals put up 21 points on the board. The Cardinals shot 47.1% from the field in the first half in comparison to Texas’ 34.5%.  

A lack of success on the night from Texas’ two top shooters, graduate guard Shaylee Gonzales and junior forward Taylor Jones, left major gaps in the team’s rhythm. Gonzales was reduced to only six points, and similarly, Jones shot at a 28.6% field goal accuracy and obtained six points.  

The moment that seemed to wrap up the night in a somewhat appropriate fashion, considering the team’s issue with injuries, was when Harmon suffered a leg strain in the fourth quarter, limping off the court as the crowd chanted her name. 

“We did not play today the way I felt like we were ready to play,” Schaefer said. “I hated that we went out the way we did today.”