KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Friday night was more than just a Big 12 Tournament ending loss for the TCU Horned Frogs. It was Reagan Pebley’s last game as head coach.
Pebley knew that going in to the game. Two weeks ago she announced that she would be leaving the job at the end of the season after a nine-year tenure as head coach. She and athletic director Jeremiah Donati agreed that the program needed to go in a new direction.
But before she left, her Horned Frogs took her on a bit of a ride at Municipal Auditorium.
After beating No. 7 seeded Kansas in a mild upset in the first round on Thursday night, her Horned Frogs nearly pulled off the first major upset of the women’s tournament, pushing No. 2 seeded Oklahoma to the final seconds before losing, 77-76. TCU had the lead with four seconds left before Oklahoma’s Skylar Vann made a lay-up with two seconds left to put the Sooners ahead for good.
Had TCU won that game, they would have become the first No. 10 seed in Big 12 Tournament history to beat a No. 2 seed.
She had nothing but gratitude for the opportunity after the game.
“So much gratitude and joy,” Pebley said. “Man, this is — it’s incredible that I got to do this and I got to do it at TCU. I got to do it in Ft. Worth near my family. I got to do it in the Big 12, in a league I got to play in as a student-athlete. I got to do it with the people that I got to do it with. The staff that I’ve been partnered with over the years, man, are just tremendous, way better than I am.”
Pebley played her college basketball at Colorado, where she spent her final season playing in the Big 12 before Colorado moved to the Pac-12 more than a decade later.
The Horned Frogs have had three straight losing seasons under Pebley, as they won a total of 24 games. TCU finished this season 8-23.
Pebley took over at TCU in 2014, replacing Jeff Mittie, who is now the head coach at Kansas State. She authored back-to-back 18-win seasons and took the Horned Frogs to the Women’s NIT in back-to-back seasons, with a run to the third round in 2015-16.
She also took TCU to the WNIT two more times in 2017-18 and 2018-19, with both of those runs ending in the semifinals. That was the start of a three-season run in which TCU won 69 games.
In 2019-20 the Horned Frogs were poised to go to the NCAA Tournament, having won 22 games and finishing second in the regular season. But the COVID-19 shutdown of college sports likely robbed the Horned Frogs of a tournament run.
Now, TCU looks for a new coach. And Pebley reflects.
“To be able to be on the sideline in a league like this, so incredible,” Pebley said. “I’m so thankful God has given me everything I have ever needed, all the time, and I have zero, zero regrets or hesitations or pity. Nobody should pity me. I’m so thankful.”
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard