On a Saturday afternoon honoring the legacy of the Texas women’s basketball program, Longhorn fans at the Frank Erwin Center couldn’t celebrate a win.
Texas fell to Kansas State 60-54, as former players and coaches invited to the program’s annual Exes Weekend reflected on their careers and caught up with old teammates.
“It’s just fun to watch them interact,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “The different classes, the different generations all come into one space and just relive moments, more than anything, with each other.”
Chatter echoed throughout the tunnel of the arena as the Exes lined up to be honored at halftime. Rodney Page (1973-76), the program’s inaugural coach and first Black coach at UT, said he was happy to see his former players and is proud to have been a trailblazer for the African American community on the Forty Acres.
“It’s something I’m honored to have lived through,” Page said. “It was an interesting time in American history. It was an interesting time in UT history. So I'm honored to have done that, to have been a part of that … I wouldn’t change that experience for anything in the world. It was worth a million dollars.”
As the Longhorns ran to the the locker room down two points after the second quarter, the group of over 40 Exes walked onto the court to receive cheers and applause from the crowd. The cohort representing teams from the last five decades collectively combine for 12 conference championships, three NCAA Final Four appearances and a 1986 NCAA National Championship title.
While the Exes were honored at Saturday’s game, the weekend festivities began on Friday night when the group went to tour The Frank Denius Family University of Texas Athletics Hall of Fame.
Page’s former player Debbie Turnbough-Vickers, who played in the post for the Longhorns from 1973-76, said it was nice to catch up with past teammates and take in the Hall of Fame display.
“They had a big layout of food for us, and we could wander around there and look at all the great things The University of Texas athletes have accomplished over the years,” Turnbough-Vickers said. “We got to see everybody last night and meet the coaches that are current now. It was a lot of fun to see our friends.”
It was a joyous time for the Exes but not for the current Texas squad. The Longhorns outscored the Wildcats 18-14 in the third quarter to take the lead but missed just enough shots in the fourth quarter to put a tight game just out of reach.
“They just made a few more shots than we did,” Aston said. “Credit to them. ... We played hard though. I definitely don’t want to sit up here and say we didn’t play hard.”
Texas fans and former players couldn’t celebrate a win on Exes Weekend, but the Longhorns don't intend to stay down for too long. With a crucial Wednesday night matchup against TCU in Fort Worth looming on the horizon, Texas will have to quickly reset.
“It’s all mental, this game,” said sophomore center Charli Collier. “You have highs; you have lows. We just have to look forward to practice, to our next game. We can’t let this dwell. If we do, we’re just going to go downhill from here.”