NORFOLK, Va. -- There was no gentle way to ask the question of Texas coach Gail Goestenkors.
Is this string of first-round losses -- now four in a row after the Longhorns fell on Saturday to West Virginia 68-55 -- getting old?
"Very," Goestenkors replied with a wan smile. "Very old. We are proud to be in the NCAA tournament, but most certainly we would like to go further."
But there is nothing further for this Texas team after it shot 27.9 percent for the game, bowing not only to West Virginia's tough, physical defense, but also to their own misses. Texas finishes the season with an 18-14 record and back-to-back losses in which it shot poorly.
The Longhorns were hoping for a rejuvenated offense after their 23-point loss to Texas Tech 10 days ago in the Big 12 tournament.
But it was not to be.
Texas' starting guard trio of Yvonne Anderson, Chassidy Fussell and Ashleigh Fontenette shot a combined 9-for-42. The Longhorns shot a season-low 21.9 percent from the floor in the first half.
The Longhorns were 12-for-20 from the free throw line.
"Full credit to their defense, they were very physical," Goestenkors said. "But I've also seen us play many physical teams. And nobody stops you from the free throw line."
Ashley Gayle, one of three seniors on the team (along with Fontenette and Anderson) who never got out of the first round, said the Longhorns struggled.
"They were defending well, they were up in the passing lanes, but we missed stuff we know we can make. I think it was a matter of not being focused. We played really hard, but not as smart as we wanted."
After the game, Fussell and Anderson stood, arms around one another, heads down and arms half-raised with the Hook-'em horns salute as the Texas band played them off for the season.
Gayle said she is disappointed.
"I didn't not want to come out and lose this game, but at the same time, my teammates played hard. Everybody gave 100 percent and that's all I can ask for."