On a cold night in Kansas, the TCU women’s basketball team played the Kansas Jayhawks at historic Allen Fieldhouse two days before Valentine’s Day. The two teams had already played once earlier in the season.
In that game, the Horned Frogs pulled off a 52-50 comeback win at home after finishing on a 12-0 run. This time around, history would be made.
TCU’s 6-foot-3 senior center Latricia Lovings contested a shot and got her hand on it.
While the art of shot blocking is something Lovings has become familiar with during her time with the Frogs, this one was different. The 21-year-old had just registered her 63rd straight game with a blocked shot, adding two more to her career total that night. That mark broke TCU great Sandora Irvin’s nearly 10-year-old school record.
Irvin is TCU’s all-time leader in points (1,892), rebounds (1,370), field goals made (686), free throws made (482), rebounds in a single game (21), blocks in a single game (16) and career blocks (480). Her 480 blocks are nearly 200 more than Lovings currently has, putting Lovings at second-most in school history.
“It was pretty amazing,” Lovings said. “I felt really good. I felt like I did something great.”
Lovings went more than two full seasons with a block in each game.
“I want to say [reaching the record] was stressful,” Lovings said. “It was something I really wanted.”
Lovings, who grew up in Fort Worth and went to nearby Paschal High School before coming to TCU, said Irvin encouraged her to break the benchmark set nearly 10 years ago.
“I’ve talked to Sandora since before I got here, and she was very encouraging with me about being on the standard that she was on,” Lovings said. “I knew I had a chance to do it, to do something great.”
Irvin, the niece of NFL Hall of Fame receiver Michael Irvin, leads many of TCU’s all-time categories.
“I’m very humble about it, but I’m really excited about it,” Lovings said.
Lovings said she wasn’t too aware of Irvin’s record-setting career growing up. She was more focused on other sports, like volleyball. In fact, basketball wasn’t even her primary focus until she started playing for TCU.
“I didn’t start playing basketball until the seventh grade,” she said. “I didn’t actually love basketball until I got here. I was really a volleyball player.
Her aspiration to be like Irvin, much like her love for basketball, came later in life.
“I started coming to camps,” Lovings said. “I played for the Fort Worth Frogs, and I started hearing more and more about her. That’s when I started doing my research on her. Once I got here, that’s when I knew that I could do something great.”
While breaking the record was great for Lovings, TCU ultimately lost to Kansas that night, 62-53. Lovings said reaching a personal mark was something she was happy to do. But doing that in a losing effort soured the affair.
“People were telling me congratulations on getting the record, but I was like, ‘We lost,’” Lovings said. “Setting records is great, but when it comes down to our season and to my team, winning is the most important this season instead of breaking records. It’s really frustrating.”
The team wouldn’t have to wait long to bounce back. A week later, the Frogs earned head coach Jeff Mittie’s 300th win in a victory over Kansas State. After the game, with only four more regular season contests left in her record-setting career, Lovings was asked about what kind of legacy she felt she would leave at TCU.
“I haven’t thought about it,” she said.
Several more seconds passed.
“I want to be remembered as one of the greatest defenders to come through TCU,” she said.
In the end, Lovings finished her career with 321 blocks, 123 of those coming in her senior season. And she extended her consecutive games with a block record to 69 straight, which is seven more than Irvin.
“For my teammates, I want to be remembered as a great leader who was there for them every step of the way.”
Lovings said she wants to be remembered as a winning player on a winning team. The Frogs missed the NCAA tournament but finished 18-15 on the season.
“And with the coaches, I want to be remembered as a coachable player,” Lovings said. “I know sometimes I get attitude and they know it. At the end of the day, I want to be remembered as: She took what I said even though she got frustrated, and she worked on it.”