The five-game winning streak that brought the Longhorns into arguably the biggest home game of the year came to a grinding halt Friday night.
The No. 2 Baylor Bears stormed into Austin and topped Texas 64-44, leaving head coach Karen Aston’s team shell-shocked.
Even with the highly touted Bears coming to town, there was an air of hope in the Frank Erwin Center on Friday evening, as Texas had climbed out of a 1–2 conference hole by rattling off five straight wins and beat No. 1 Stanford at home earlier in the season.
That hope only intensified after the Longhorns held serve early on, with the score at 11-11 at the end of the first quarter.
“I thought that our team was ready to play,” Aston said. “I think that the first half was an indicator of that. I thought our defense was really, really good in the first half.”
Then the Bears turned on the jets with an 11-4 run in the last five minutes of the second quarter to take a five-point halftime lead. Then came the knockout blow that was the third quarter, which saw Baylor outscore Texas 23-5 as the Longhorns went 2-of-16 from the field.
“I feel like we took a lot of 1-on-1 shots … which really hurt us,” sophomore center Charli Collier said. “We didn’t really play as a team, and that really hurt us. We just weren’t a team tonight, and it showed.”
A sizable Baylor crowd was in attendance for the battle of I-35, a situation that the Bears have now won 21 times out of their last 22 meetings with the Longhorns. The Waco crowd had more to cheer about than their Austin counterparts, as the Longhorns shot 24.6% from the field and saw key players produce their worst offensive games of the year statistically.
Senior forward Joyner Holmes, second this season for the Longhorns in scoring average, had just four points. Collier, who is averaging just under 14 points per game, could only muster three points on 1-of-10 shooting.
Collier has been a bright spot on the Texas team, especially during the impressive conference run that the Longhorns were on before Friday night. As such, the Bears honed in on her defensively, making sure nothing came easy for the sophomore from Mont Belvieu, Texas.
“I wasn’t surprised by how (Baylor) played Charli (Collier),” Aston said. “She’s been really, really good in the last several games. I’m not surprised at all by how they guarded her, I’m just surprised that we didn’t move the ball better and share it more.”
Sharing the ball was indeed a problem for the Longhorns, who finished with just three assists. That paled in comparison both to Baylor’s 16 as well as Texas’ season average of 14.1.
“Three assists in a game? That tells it all,” Aston said. “I mean, who would’ve thought (we’d have only) seven turnovers? I’d be jumping up, doing backflips up here with seven turnovers … (but) when you have three assists and seven turnovers, you’re just throwing up stuff.”
With a team like Baylor — who is now 19–1 with the only loss coming to No. 1 South Carolina — “throwing up stuff” is not the way to offensive success. And on Friday, the No. 2 Bears showed why.
“I did think that we were prepared today,” Aston said. “I was a little fooled by this one because I thought we were prepared. I really did. There’s sometimes … they surprise you with things or whatever. There’s nothing surprising to me about what they did, at all.”