Dressed in pink, Longhorn head coach Karen Aston was flustered red as she watched her team struggle against Baylor in the annual Shoot for a Cure game on Sunday.
No. 7 Baylor shut down Texas, 72-56, handing the Longhorns their first home loss of the conference season.
Aston and Bears head coach Kim Mulkey mirrored each other on the sidelines - pacing back and forth, squatting on the court, directing their players and shouting at the refs. Both coaches made sure the officials knew when they disagreed with a call, but unlike Mulkey, Aston received a technical foul for her actions on the sideline.
“I think I probably earned that foul,” Aston said.
The intensity of the players on the court was equal to that of their coaches off of it. Aggressive physical play resulted in several trips to the foul line for both teams.
Early in the first, junior forward Nneka Enemkpali, who leads the Big 12 in rebounding, racked up two fouls and was forced to head to the bench. From there, Enemkpali and her replacement, Imani Mcgee-Stafford, rotated in and out of the game for each other, until McGee-Stafford eventually fouled out.
Her teammates’ foul trouble gave freshman Nekia Jones an opportunity to play increased minutes in the second half and she continued to prove her worth as a role player on the team.
“I know that when coach puts me in, she’s confident in me,” Jones said. “And I’m confident in myself so I just have to be ready.”
Texas’ loss on Sunday was the Longhorns’ eighth consecutive defeat at the hands of the Bears.
Aston’s club struggled where it has been consistently strong. Inaccurate shooting and sloppy ball handling - Texas committed 26 turnovers - were the ultimate downfall for the Longhorns.
“I thought we were uncharacteristically frantic offensively,” Aston said. “A little careless with the basketball.”
The Longhorns’ frenzied play gave Baylor the opportunity to pull away and establish a comfortable lead, seemingly breaking down Texas’ moral.
“They just had a little bit more heart and a little bit more grit in them,” Enemkpali said.
Texas has three days to get their confidence back before traveling to Norman to take on Oklahoma this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.