The TCU women’s basketball team had a chance to make an 18-point comeback against Texas in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Women’s Championship, but missed the opportunity — several times over.
Texas held off the Horned Frogs’ second-half rush to take their first game of the tournament 67-61, but it wasn’t without a few close calls.
With just over two minutes left and Texas’ lead cut from a high of 18 early in the second half to five, senior forward Natalie Ventress missed the first free throw of a 1-and-1. Ventress entered the game a 73 percent free throw shooter.
TCU (17-13) held Texas (21-9) on the next possession and senior Chelsea Prince pulled down an offensive rebound leaving a softly contested lane to the basket. But she missed a layup she normally makes.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
Prince followed the miss with an open-court steal, but couldn’t drive home the fast-break layup.
Junior guard Zahna Medley managed to drill a 3-pointer with 46 seconds left, cutting Texas’ lead to four points, but TCU couldn’t connect on two straight subsequent 3-point chances and time ran out.
“If you’re going to lose a game, I want it to be because you just didn’t make enough shots,” TCU coach Raegan Pebley said. “We put ourselves in situations to win it. I hate seeing it that juniors and seniors weren’t able to finish those plays because they deserve to, they’ve worked hard to, they’ve made way more of those than they’ve missed.”
The Frogs did lose because they simply didn’t make enough shots.
TCU entered Saturday’s contest shooting 41.3 percent from the field and 34.8 percent form 3-point range, but finished the first half at 26.7 percent and 9.1 percent, respectively.
It wasn’t until sophomore forward Jada Butts connected on a 3-pointer with 16 minutes left that TCU managed to make a 10-2 run that pulled them back into the game.
Her make from distance was followed by a 3-pointer by junior forward Caitlin Diaz.
“They had an incredible sense of urgency and that struggle with guarding them is because at times they put five guards in basically and Jada spreads the floor,” Texas coach Karen Aston said.
The key was settling down the array of emotions that had the Frogs hyped from the opening tip, including trying to enact retribution for the 79-45 beating the Longhorns put on TCU on Tuesday.
Butts sat the majority of the first half due to foul trouble, which she said was ultimately a positive.
“I could see what we needed to do and what I could have contributed and that was mostly in rebounding. When I went in there, I knew what I was supposed to do,” Butts said.
The spark she provided wasn’t enough as Texas made four of its last nine free throws to secure the narrow victory.
Medley finished with a game-high 15 points, which bested Texas’ top scorer, post Kelsey Lang, by one point.
Between Lang and the Longhorns’ other big, Imani McGee-Stafford, Texas scored 40 points in the paint and outrebounded TCU 48-34.
Texas has the opportunity to continue its run through the Big 12 Championship with a semifinal matchup at 4 p.m. Sunday against archrival Oklahoma.
TCU now must sit and wait over a week to see if the opportunities they converted in the second half, combined with a conference slate that saw them finish as the tournament’s third seed, will give them the chance to play in the NCAA Tournament.
“I really trust the committee. I know that they do an excellent job of seeding and selection,” Pebley said.