On the same day Texas retired Clarissa Davis’ jersey, Joyner Holmes ensured that the final memory of No. 24 at the Erwin Center was a positive one.
Holmes scored 17 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a 63-52 win over Oklahoma State on Sunday. The 11-point win was part of an eventful day that featured Davis’ pregame jersey retirement and a postgame ceremony for Texas’ five seniors. One of those seniors is Holmes, who will be the last player to wear the No. 24 jersey that belonged to Davis during her All-America career at Texas.
With the victory, Texas (19-11, 11-7) secured the third seed in the Big 12 Tournament. The Longhorns will play West Virginia in Kansas City, Mo., on Friday night.
“I think we just kind of played for something bigger than ourselves,” Holmes said. “We played for each other most importantly, but I think we just knew we had to come in and get a win and just show a lot of pride for the name on our jersey.”
Oklahoma State took an early lead Sunday and was up by two points at the end of the first quarter. Holmes, however, scored seven points to keep the deficit manageable. Holmes had 11 points by halftime, and Texas held a 32-27 lead.
“Getting stops on defense helped us throughout the whole game,” Holmes said. “Just getting quick and easy buckets, just trying to get to the basket and finish at the basket as much as I can contributed to that (start).”
Oklahoma State kept within striking distance in the second half but never led. In the final quarter, another senior — point guard Sug Sutton — consistently shooed away the Cowgirls. Sutton’s two 3-pointers gave Texas 51-42 and 60-50 advantages. One of her two assists in the quarter was a lofted pass that Holmes placed in the hoop.
That finish closed out an extended cold slump for Sutton, who had shot 3-for-9 over the first three quarters. Sutton went into her senior day with an average of 10.3 points, but she had failed to exceed that mark in any of her previous seven contests, making just 26% of her 73 shots.
But Sunday, Sutton finished with 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists. Afterward, the St. Louis native admitted having an extra source of motivation. Among the announced crowd of 4,073 was her mother, who hadn’t been to a game at the Erwin Center since her sophomore year, and her father, who had made one trip to Austin this season.
“I think that you always have to have people that when something breaks down, they have to be able to make shots,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “I’m happy for her to see the ball go through the net today because it’s been a tough stretch for her.”
Sunday was probably the last appearance for Texas at the Erwin Center this season. With a third-place finish in the Big 12 and a top-45 RPI, UT has a résumé that is not good enough for a top-16 seed in the NCAA Tournament but is too good for the WNIT.
The focus for the Longhorns will shift to a Big 12 Tournament, which Texas last won in 2003. Had the Longhorns lost to Oklahoma State, they would have slipped to the tournament’s fourth seed due to Iowa State’s upset of Baylor on Sunday. Instead, Texas maintained its third-place standing and will open its postseason run against a West Virginia team with which it split its season series.
“We’re in a really good place, so it’s really big for us to make a run,” Sutton said. “We’ve got to stay together, keep our circle tight and keep playing for each other, and everything’s going to work out for itself.”
Notes: Davis, a two-time Naismith Trophy winner and 1986 national champion, joins Kamie Ethridge among the women to have their jerseys retired at Texas. Since Ethridge was recognized at a football game last fall, Davis’ retirement ceremony was a first for a woman at Texas. … Jada Underwood scored nine points, and fellow senior Lashann Higgs registered three steals. Graduate transfer Sophie Taylor got into the game in the waning seconds. … Texas forced 19 turnovers. … Oklahoma State (15-15, 6-12) was led by Natasha Mack’s 16 points and 12 rebounds. The Big 12’s eighth seed, Oklahoma State will meet Oklahoma in Kansas City on Thursday.