After a long, injury-prone season, the Longhorns returned to Austin just shy of a Big 12 title.
For the first time since 2004, Texas advanced to the Big 12 Championships finals, defeating Oklahoma and TCU along the way, but the Longhorns fell to Baylor, 75–64, Monday night at the American Airlines Center.
“First of all, I just want to say how proud I am of our basketball team,” head coach Karen Aston said. “I’m very, very proud, but I’m disappointed we didn’t play better tonight.”
No. 1-seeded Baylor started with a six-point lead on No. 6-seeded Texas, but the Longhorns soon got on the board. They traded 6–0 runs to start things off before the Bears pulled away.Several key drives and three pointers from Junior guards Celina Rodrigo and Brady Sanders kept Texas in play in the first 20 minutes, and the Longhorns went into halftime behind, 40–35.
But two minutes into the second half, Baylor increased its halftime lead to nine ahead of Texas, who was the preseason favorite to win the conference title. But with the help of Baylor’s Nina Davis and Imani Wright, who each had 14 points halfway through the second half, the Bears’ lead grew to 18 after a four-minute Texas scoring drought.
Baylor eventually went on to claim its fifth consecutive — and seventh overall — Big 12 title.
“Baylor was more efficient tonight in every area,” Aston said. “When they’re shooting pretty well, it’s hard to beat them.”
Junior center Imani McGee-Stafford led the Longhorns in scoring, putting 15 on the board and grabbing 10 rebounds. Junior guard Empress Davenport was the only other Longhorn to score in the double digits with 13.
“I haven’t beaten Baylor yet,” McGee-Stafford said. “At the end of the day, they put more points up. This game was frustrating because obviously we wanted a championship.”
The Longhorns still has the NCAA Tournament which begins on March 20, ahead of them. Texas will find out what position they are seeded on March 16.
“I think we’re all pretty confident [on going into NCAA],” said Rodrigo. “We’re going to build on this.”