Texas entered its game against Baylor last Monday with a shot to share a regular season conference title with the Bear but lost decidedly in Waco.
Exactly one week later, the stakes were almost exactly the same — beat Baylor and win a conference tournament championship. But so was the result.
Baylor took it to the Longhorns for most of the night, winning the Big 12 Championship game in Oklahoma City 79-63.
The Longhorns trailed by one point after the first quarter a week ago but found themselves down by nine in the opening minutes of last night’s game.
But eight unanswered points for the Longhorns cut the Baylor lead to 12-11 and gave Texas new life — new life that was short-lived.
The Bears responded to the Texas spurt with a 16-6 run, giving them a 28-17 lead with 4:07 left in the first half.
Junior center Kelsey Lang nailed a long jumper to pull the Longhorns within eight with 50 seconds remaining in the half. Texas needed a stop on defensive and points at the other end to head into the second half with confidence.
It didn’t get either.
With time expiring on the Baylor shot clock, junior guard Alexis Jones lost her handle of the ball but still scooped it off the floor and drained a three. The Bears held a 36-25 halftime advantage.
Texas couldn’t get out of its own way in the first half, committing nine fouls to Baylor’s three. Texas also coughed the ball up nine times in the first 20 minutes.
The Bears started the second half on a 6-0 run to stretch their lead to 17. The Longhorns wouldn’t crawl to within a single-digit deficit the rest of the game.
The victory sends No.4 Baylor (33–1) to the NCAA tournament as a probable No. 1 seed. It’s the sixth-consecutive Big 12 title for the Bears.
The No. 7 Longhorns (28–4) enter tournament play having lost to Baylor twice in an eight-day span. The two losses came by a combined 42 points.
It’s Texas’ 14th-straight defeat to the lady Bears and the second-straight year it dropped three games in one season to Baylor.
The lone bright spot for Texas came in unexpected form: freshman guard Lashann Higgs. She scored 15 points in 20 minutes of action.
All 11 Longhorns who recorded minutes for Texas registered points, but Texas needs more from its starters if it wants to make a deep tournament run. The Longhorn bench outscored the starters 35-28.
Aston’s players get over a week of rest before starting NCAA tournament play next weekend, likely in Austin.