At 5-foot-nothing, TCU senior stands tall

Posted Thursday, Mar. 06, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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With two seconds left in the first half, TCU’s Jada Butts was fouled going for a layup and injured a knee on the play.

Later, the team would find out Butts tore her ACL and would be done for the season, but in that moment TCU coach Jeff Mittie needed someone who could hit two free throws and cut into Oklahoma’s 11-point lead.

The obvious choices to Horned Frogs fans would be sophomore guard Zahna Medley or junior guard Natalie Ventress, who both finished the season shooting better than 80 percent from the line.

However, for those sitting on the TCU bench that January night in Norman, the least-obvious answer was the unanimous pick.

Senior guard Meagan Henson, who stands just 5 feet tall, entered the game, hit both free throws and further exemplified her role with TCU: supporting her teammates.

“Although she’s short in stature, she sure has a lot of people looking up to her,” Mittie said.

Henson’s playing time has been limited, but she made her mark in practice.

Henson was charged to improve the play of sophomore point guard Zahna Medley, who has led TCU in scoring the past two years and dramatically improved her ball-handling skills.

“Meagan’s role on the team is to make the point guards better, to make Zahna better, and I think she did that while she was here. She was a role player, but she played hard,” fellow senior Latricia Lovings said.

Henson’s role increased her senior year, as Mittie sought a spark of energy when his team sunk into spells of sluggish play.

Because of Henson’s ability to build momentum, Mittie said he did not think of her as a player on the end of the bench who only saw time when games were out of hand.

That didn’t keep Henson from becoming a fan favorite, when Mittie’s nod toward the bench and Henson’s jog to the scorer’s table evoked roars from the crowd as they chanted her last name.

While Henson typically was focused on the game in those moments, she said she explicitly remembers hearing support from the TCU band, to which the quiet and humble guard said she was thankful.

During the 2012-13 season, Henson was listed as the shortest player in Division I basketball at 5-foot-flat.

Asked if the listed height was her actual height, she offered up “with my shoes on” behind a big grin.

Mitte said he has always seen her as an inspiration to all girls who work hard to achieve their dreams no matter their stature or appearance.

This weekend, Henson faces what could be her final games as a Horned Frog in the Big 12 tournament, hosted by Oklahoma City, Henson’s home area.

“I believe Meagan is a phenomenal player and her role on the team is to make everyone better and she took pride in that,” Lovings said. “She wasn’t upset that she wasn’t playing. She wasn’t upset that she wasn’t the point guard. She knew her role on the team and she was OK with that.”

Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship

Friday-Monday, Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City

Friday’s games

No. 8 Kansas vs. No. 9 Kansas State, 6 p.m.

No. 7 TCU vs. No. 10 Texas Tech, 8:30 p.m.

TV: Fox College Sports

Radio: KTCU/88.7 FM

Breakdown

Baylor (26-4, 16-2 Big 12): All bets are on the Bears to repeat as Big 12 tournament champions behind one of the leading candidates for national player of the year, Odyssey Sims, who averages 29.6 points per game.

West Virginia (27-3, 16-2): As co-champions with Baylor, West Virginia won its first Big 12 regular-season title in its second season in the league. The Mountaineers are seeded No. 2 based on records against the two teams that finished tied for third place, Texas and Oklahoma State.

Texas (20-10, 11-7): Texas posted its first 20-win season since 2009-10. Texas has never failed to miss an NCAA Tournament when winning 20 games in a season.

Oklahoma State (22-7, 11-7): The Cowgirls are paced by senior guard Tiffany Bias, averaging 14.4 points per game. She’s been a workhorse for OSU this year, averaging 36.5 minutes per game.

Iowa State (20-9, 9-9): Iowa State finished the season ranked fourth in scoring at 74.2 points per game. The Cyclones are 13-0 when they score 80 or more points.

Oklahoma (18-13, 9-9): OU has support in its reserves. Its 19.9 points per game from the bench make up 26 percent of the team’s total scoring.

TCU (17-13, 8-10): The Horned Frogs’ postseason life past the Big 12 tournament depends on nabbing wins in the conference tournament. TCU is a different team offensively when it can add high-scoring numbers from junior forward Chelsea Prince or sophomore guard Veja Hamilton.

Kansas (12-18, 5-13): Junior Natalie Knight has shot 50 percent or better in seven of her last nine games.

Kansas State (11-18, 5-13): K-State was led by Leticia Romero, the only freshman in the conference with 400-plus points, 100-plus rebounds, 100-plus assists and 50-plus steals.

Texas Tech (6-23, 0-18): Tech statistically finished last in almost every category this season.

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