Texas women’s basketball team shows growth against Baylor despite failed fourth-quarter rally

Taylor Hawthorne

The Texas women’s basketball team once again found itself in foul trouble Saturday afternoon, but unlike Friday, they couldn’t summon an answer in a 66-55 loss to Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament semifinal round.

While the Texas guards stepped up, the fourth quarter rally was ultimately upended by fouls and an inability to stop the Baylor offense. Junior forward Charli Collier played just 16 minutes due to her four fouls.

Although the loss was disappointing, the contest displayed just how much the Longhorns have grown as a team. 

“We can’t hang our heads. We gotta get back after it,” sophomore guard Celeste Taylor said. “I think we’re really focused. After showing we can compete, we’re just ready to get back in the gym and go after it.”

Taylor and junior guard Joanne Allen-Taylor kept Texas alive. Both guards made crucial buckets, especially at the free throw line, to give the Longhorns a fighting chance late in the fourth quarter. Head coach Vic Schaefer said their effort reflects the growth of his team as of late. 

“Celeste (Taylor) and Jo (Allen-Taylor), they shot it well today,” Schaefer said. “Things get a whole lot easier when you have guards that can make some shots. I see us getting better. We’re growing as a team. We're growing as a program.”

Texas’ 9-0 fourth-quarter run, powered by Taylor and Allen-Taylor, pulled the Longhorns within five points in the final four minutes, but ultimately fell short. Baylor capitalized on Texas’ late turnovers and fouls.

“I think I take from it that we’re getting better,” Schaefer said. “We didn’t blink today when they made a run at us. We fought back in it.” 

Despite the result and mishaps, the competitiveness wasn’t missing. The Longhorns were vastly different today than during their regular season meetings with Baylor. Texas managed to stay locked in, even in times when it seemed the game was running away.

The Longhorns could’ve easily been discouraged by the 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter, the 51 Baylor rebounds or Texas’ leading scorer only tallying three points. But Texas didn’t shy away.

“We can compete with the best,” Allen-Taylor said. “We’re good enough to play any team and stay within a certain amount of points to where we can win the game.” 

The loss ends the Longhorns’ chance to win a Big 12 championship, but the team still has an opportunity to demonstrate its growth in the NCAA tournament. Schaefer isn’t concerned with the competitiveness of his team going into the tournament. 

“I’m really pleased with my team,” Schaefer said. “I like our execution, I like our toughness, (and) I like our competitive spirit right now. It’s changed, it's different. To change is to grow. I see it now.”