The Lady Frogs were sad. They were frustrated. And, worst of all, they were coming off their second loss to rival Houston in a little over a week.
“I don’t like losing,” the junior forward said. “We just have to get past it. It really hurts.”
It hurts because a week and a half ago, the Lady Frogs controlled their own destiny in conference. With a victory in their season finale against the Lady Cougars, they had the chance to win at least a share of the regular season conference championship before heading home for the postseason tournament.
Fast forward to the present and thanks to Houston and senior guard Chandi Jones, the Lady Frogs missed out on celebrating either championship.
Instead, they watched courtside as the Lady Cougars celebrated both.
Senior guard Ebony Shaw said this recent celebration was a lot harder to watch.
“It was messed up watching them cut down the net on our home court,” Shaw said. “That was tough to see.”
Irvin said losing the championship game frustrates her because she wanted another ring, her third in three years.
Head coach Jeff Mittie said the team still has a good chance to get that coveted ring.
“We’ll be all right,” Mittie said. “There’s a chance for this to be the best seed we’ve ever had . . . maybe a five or a six [in the NCAA Tournament].”
Mittie said with a favorable seed his team could finally advance past the second round because they wouldn’t have to draw Connecticut or another dominating No. 1 seed in the tournament’s second round. And after that, he said anything can happen.
He said the No. 5 or No. 6 seed is just his prediction and that it’s up to the selection committee now.
“We know our name is coming up on Selection Sunday,” he said. “There are always some surprises, but we’re deserving of the best seed in school history. I’ll find out where we are seeded at the same time as you all do. Last year, I just did a good job faking that smile and acting happy with our position, knowing we had Connecticut if we won our first round game.”
Shaw agreed with Mittie that the team’s successful season should be rewarded with the program’s best seed ever.
“Hopefully, we’ll get a top seed,” she said. “We want to go to the Final Four and get a ring that way.”
Mittie tried his best to make light of the ringless press conference.
“They like jewelry,” he said. “My wife is the same way.”
The Lady Frogs, however, seem to want this fourth ring more than any of the previous ones.
And chances are, if and when that ring is won, the tears running down Irvin’s face this time will be soaked up by a Final Four T-shirt and a net hanging around her neck.