2016-17 Texas Women's Basketball Season in Review

The 2016-17 Texas Women’s Basketball season began with high hopes. The Longhorns would face a brutal schedule and each of the team’s five starters would be playing in new roles, but the Texas players adopted the motto “HAW” – hard at work – and the team had goals of winning the Big 12 Conference and advancing to the NCAA Final Four in Dallas.

“We’re going to take it day-by-day, game-by-game, practice-by-practice. I think everyone is ready to come in and work each day and just take it by that day.” --Senior center Kelsey Lang

Texas head coach Karen Aston was one of six coaches nationally invited to participate in the NCAA Women’s Basketball National Media Day at ESPN Headquarters in Bristol, Conn.

For the first time since Feb. 15, 1977, the Longhorns played a basketball game in Gregory Gym. Texas played host to Tarleton State in an exhibition game, winning 93-43.

Texas opened its season with a trip to No. 11 Stanford. The Longhorns spent three days in the Bay Area, and explored the Wharf in San Francisco. Texas fell to the Cardinal 71-59 in the season opener.

Four of Texas’ first six opponents ranked in the Associated Press Top-11. It was a rigorous schedule for the Longhorns, who concluded that tough stretch by participating in the Jimmy V. Classic in Uncasville, Conn., against No. 2 UConn. The game had special significance for head coach Karen Aston, whose mother Norma Haley is battling pancreatic cancer.

Texas started the season with a 2-4 overall record, but the Longhorns earned a 72-67 win against rival Tennessee to spark a 19-game winning streak. The NCAA Championship trophy visited the Frank Erwin Center in the game against the Lady Vols.

The Longhorns took a break in mid-December to visit the Austin Animal Center, the nation’s largest no-kill shelter in the country, to walk and play with dogs and cats in need of a home.

The Texas team, coaches and staff gathered for the team’s annual holiday party. Each member of the Longhorns drew a name and bought a gift for the person they randomly chose. The team gathered for dinner and fellowship before traveling home for the holidays.

The University of Texas women’s basketball program earned its 500th all-time win in the Frank Erwin Center when it defeated UT Rio Grande Valley on Dec. 15.

Senior Kelsey Lang turned in a perfect game against New Orleans on Dec. 20. Lang scored 23 points and was a perfect 11-for-11 from the field. She became the first player in school history to chart a perfect field-goal percentage in a game with double-digit shot attempts.

Head Coach Karen Aston earned her 200th career win against TCU on Jan. 7. During the course of the 2016-17 season, Aston would also become the school’s second-winningest coach all-time.

Texas got off to a record-setting start in Big 12 Conference play and, with a 73-63 win at West Virginia on Jan. 14, the Longhorns became the first team in school history to start Big 12 play 6-0. Texas would go on to win its first 14 league games.

Texas hosted its annual Exes Weekend in conjunction with the team’s game against West Virginia on Jan. 29. The Longhorns welcomed back nearly 40 former players for a luncheon, alumni game and halftime recognition.

The Longhorns put together one of their most complete efforts of the season to upset No. 2 Baylor in Waco on Feb. 6. It marked Texas first win against the Lady Bears since March 7, 2010 and snapped Baylor’s 54-game home winning streak. Junior guard Brooke McCarty scored a season-high 22 points and freshman Joyner Holmes recorded her sixth double-double of the season.

“This was a really good basketball game. You saw tonight how good the Big 12 was. I’m really proud of our players. I thought they were tough tonight.” -- Texas Head Coach Karen Aston

Senior Kelsey Lang and junior Brooke McCarty were recognized before the team’s Feb. 11 win against Kansas for becoming the 41st and 42nd members, respectively, of the school’s 1,000-point club. McCarty’s 1,000th point came on a free throw with 24 seconds left in the win at Baylor.

Texas swept the annual Big 12 Conference Awards. Brooke McCarty became the first person in school history to be named Big 12 Player of the Year. Karen Aston was named Big 12 Coach of the Year, Brianna Taylor was Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Year and Joyner Holmes was Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

“It’s a blessing. I feel like there are many people in the Big 12 who could have gotten this award. It’s just a testament to my teammates and my coaching staff. They really pushed me this year.” --Junior point guard Brooke McCarty

The Longhorns traveled to Oklahoma City to participate in the Big 12 Conference Tournament. Texas defeated Oklahoma State 71-60 in the quarterfinals before falling to West Virginia 62-59 in the semifinal round.

Texas hosted its fans to watch the NCAA Selection Show. The Longhorns drew a No. 3 national seed and would host NCAA First and Second Rounds at the Frank Erwin Center for the second consecutive year.

“Getting the opportunity to play one, maybe two more games in the Erwin Center means the world to me. I love the University of Texas and I’m just really excited that I get the opportunity to play another game in here.” --Senior center Kelsey Lang

Former Texas head football coach Mack Brown spoke to the team before its NCAA First Round game at the Erwin Center.

After defeating Central Arkansas in the NCAA First Round, it came down to the wire against No. 17 NC State in the NCAA Second Round. Freshman guard/forward Joyner Holmes came up big for the Longhorns in the final seconds, helping Texas defeat the Wolfpack 84-80.

Texas Football coach Tom Herman and several of the Longhorns football players came to Cooley Pavilion to wish the team well before it embarked on Lexington for the NCAA Sweet 16.

Texas fell to No. 6 Stanford in the NCAA Regional Semifinals. The Longhorns concluded the 2016-17 season with a 25-9 record and a No. 14 national ranking in both major polls. Texas has made four consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, three NCAA Sweet 16 showings and has won 24 or more games in each of the last three seasons.

“I don't think our goals can be any greater because we expected to go to the Final Four. That was our goal. And it was a realistic goal. So I don't know that our expectations will be any different next year.” --Texas Head Coach Karen Aston

Credits:

Texas Sports Photography / Longhorn Network

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