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Lady Bears top Texas 87-73

Lady Bears top Texas 87-73
February 02
23:03 2014
Senior guard Odyssey Sims dribbles down the floor during the second half of the Lady Bears 87-73 win over the University of Texas on Saturday, February 1, 2014.  Sims finished the game with 44 points and seven assists.  Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

Senior guard Odyssey Sims dribbles down the floor during the second half of the Lady Bears 87-73 win over the University of Texas on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Sims finished the game with 44 points and seven assists.
Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

By Jeffrey Swindoll
Sports Writer

On Family Night at the Ferrell Center, fans were treated to a tightly contested rivalry game that saw No. 7 Baylor (18-3, 8-1) earn its league-leading eighth win in conference play against the Texas Longhorns in a 87-73 contest.

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey knew her team would be challenged by Texas on the boards more than any team has all season, saying the Longhorns (14-7, 5-4) are possibly “the best rebounding team in the league.” The Lady Bears stood their ground early in the rebound battle. Texas edged out Baylor by a narrow 24-22 rebounding margin in the first half.

Already undersized against Texas post Imani McGee-Stafford, Baylor subbed out junior post Sune Agbuke when she earned her second personal foul early into the game. Higgins played 11 minutes in the first half while Agbuke played seven minutes.

The Longhorns ran the majority of the offensive plays through their bigs McGee-Stafford and forward Nneka Enemkpali finding success often. McGee-Stafford and Enemkpali scored 12 of Texas’ 36 first half points.

The lead swung back and forth in the first half, marking one of Baylor’s first times being tested by a conference team at the Ferrell Center this season.

Neither team had a generally positive night in terms of shooting the ball from the floor. The game was noticeably more physical and faster-paced than Baylor’s last home game against Texas Tech. Mulkey would often swing her arms up and down after a big play in favor of Baylor, trying to pump up the crowd to give the team motivation.

The spirit of the Baylor-Texas rivalry was vibrant.

Like any rivalry game, controversial fouls were called for both teams, but Baylor was able to capitalize on its free throw chances. The Lady Bears made up for their negative 28.1 field goal percentage in the first half with 83.3 percent in free throws.

Even when Baylor’s shots were not falling in open-play, the Lady Bears were almost perfect from the line and continued to be smart with the ball, only turning it over two times in the game.

Rebounds, free throws and turnovers were the keys to this game, and Baylor outperformed Texas in all three; 43-41 in rebounds, 84.1-69.2 in free throws made and 2-15 in turnovers.

“You’ll win a lot of ball games if you only turn it over twice,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said.

Texas held a 36-35 lead over Baylor at the start of the second half.

Makenzie Robertson and Sims did not have their usual three-point show tonight, but they contributed to the team in other ways, collectively making 21-of-24 free throws.

The first half story repeated itself in the second, but only on one side of the floor.

Texas fouled Baylor many times. Recognizing the Longhorns’ tendency to foul, Sims and freshman guard Niya Johnson drove the ball into traffic often, scoring off of layups, free throws or both.

“Both of us fouled a lot in the first, but I thought they made better adjustments to how the game was being officiated,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said.

The Longhorns shot themselves in the foot, fouling a disciplined free throw team, putting the Lady Bears into the bonus with plenty of time still on the clock.

“We lost the possession game,” Aston said. “We talk about the games within the game like free throws and rebounding, and we didn’t win those today.”

Because of the fouls, Baylor could finally widen the points margin as they held the lead for almost the entire second half, clinically sinking free throw after free throw.

Both coaches harped on the importance of rebounds in this game, knowing they would be crucial to the outcome of the game.

“I think they came up with a lot of timely rebounds and Odyssey was terrific,” Aston said. “I thought we played with good effort, but we just didn’t play smart basketball tonight.”

Other than quick transition buckets and free throws from freshman forward Nina Davis and Sims drawing fouls, there was not much else to Baylor’s offense. The Lady Bears were preoccupied with how they were going to defend against a big and fast Texas team.

“It’s amazing what defense and effort will do for you when the other team’s a little more talented,” Mulkey said. “I think the first five minutes of the second half of every game can determine the outcome of the game.”

Sims finished with 44 points against Texas, marking her fourth time ever scoring more than 40 and her 32-game streak of double-digit scoring.

“I tried to run the offense by changing things up,” Sims said. “Even when I had two shooters in the corner, I just kept attacking and got what I could out of it.”

Davis extended a streak of her own, recording her sixth double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

“It was very physical guarding Nneka,” Davis said. “She’s one of the better players I’ve had to guard this year. I knew coming into the game she was going to be very aggressive, so I knew I just had to match her.

Freshman post Khadijah Cave joined Davis and Sims in double-digit scoring, earning 11 points in a game in 14 minutes.

Cave and Higgins saw a lot more playing time than they were possibly used to after Agbuke fouled out of the game with eight minutes left to play. Mulkey was pleased with how the inexperienced players stepped up and battled.

Baylor goes on the road to face Oklahoma at 6 p.m. Monday in Norman, Okla. The game will be on ESPN2 as part of ESPN’s “Big Monday” lineup.

01 WBB vs. Texas Title Slide FTW
02WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0011

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey shakes hands with the University of Texas head coach Karen Aston before the game on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at the Ferrell Center. Baylor went on to win 87-73.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

03WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0040

Senior guard Odyssey Sims takes a jump shot during the first half of the Lady Bears 87-73 win over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, February 1, 2014 at the Ferrell Center. Sims led the team with 44 points and was 12-34 from the floor.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

04WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0046

Senior guard Makenzie Robertson controls the ball during the first half of Baylor's 87-73 win over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday at the Ferrell Center. Robertson and the Lady Bears were held to only 2 three pointers in the game, but scored 52 points in the second half.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

05WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0072

Sophomore guard Niya Johnson loses control of the ball while driving the lane during the first half of Baylor's 87-73 win over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday at the Ferrell Center. Baylor had only two turnovers to the Longhorns' 15.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

06WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0099

Freshman forward Nina Davis looks for an opening in the Texas Longhorns defense during the first half of Baylor's 87-73 win on Saturday at the Ferrell Center. Davis recorded a double-double with 15 points and 17 rebounds.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

07WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0111

Senior guard Odyssey Sims dribbles into the lane during the first half of the Lady Bears 87-73 win over the Texas Longhorns on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Sims led the team with 44 points and was 12-34 from the floor.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

08WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0171

Players pose with their families during the halftime of Baylor's game against the University of Texas on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

09WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0181

Senior guard Odyssey Sims dribbles down the floor during the second half of the Lady Bears 87-73 win over the University of Texas on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Sims finished the game with 44 points and seven assists. Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

Senior guard Odyssey Sims dribbles down the floor during the second half of the Lady Bears 87-73 win over the University of Texas on Saturday, February 1, 2014. Sims finished the game with 44 points and seven assists.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

10WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0229

Freshman post Khadijiah Cave defends during the second half of Baylor's 87-73 win over the University of Texas on Saturday, February 1st, 2014 at the Ferrell Center. Cave went 4-4 from the floor and scored 11 points during the game.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

11WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0236

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey talks with junior center Sune Agbuke during the second half of Baylor's 87-73 win over the University of Texas. A total of 58 fouls were called during the game, and four players, including Agbuke, fouled out.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

12WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0309

Senior guard Odyssey Sims high fives members of the Courtside Players after Baylor's 87-73 win over the University of Texas on Saturday. The Lady Bears are ow 18-3 overall and 8-1 in Big Twelve conference play.

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor

z WBB vs. Texas Title Slide FTW2
01 WBB vs. Texas Title Slide FTW02WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_001103WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_004004WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_004605WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_007206WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_009907WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_011108WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0171Senior guard Odyssey Sims dribbles down the floor during the second half of the Lady Bears 87-73 win over the University of Texas on Saturday, February 1, 2014.  Sims finished the game with 44 points and seven assists. 

Travis Taylor | Lariat Photo Editor10WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_022911WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_023612WBB vs. Texas_Feb012014_0309z WBB vs. Texas Title Slide FTW2
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