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
No. 8 Kansas vs. No. 9 Kansas State, 6 p.m.
No. 7 TCU vs. No. 10 Texas Tech, 8:30 p.m.