Lady Bears Reclaim Top Spot in Big 12

Texas guard/forward Joyner Holmes (24) is defended by Baylor forward Nina Davis (13) as she tires to score during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Monday, Feb. 20, 2017, in Austin, Texas. Photo credit: Associated Press

By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer

For the second time in two weeks, No. 4 Baylor and No. 6 Texas met with first place in the Big 12 conference on the line.

On Feb. 6, it was Longhorns’ junior guard Brooke McCarty that did the damage against the Lady Bears, tallying 22 points in leading No. 11 Texas to an 85-79 upset over then No. 2 Baylor.

On Monday, it was Lady Bears’ sophomore Kalani Brown who stole the show as Baylor reclaimed the top spot in the Big 12 with a 70-67 win against the Longhorns in Austin.

Brown scored a career-high 35 points and grabbed 13 rebounds as she helped Baylor use a 20-4 run in the fourth quarter to turn a nine-point deficit into a seven-point advantage.

Brown did it in a variety of ways, from step through layups to short jump shots and finally at the free throw line. The sophomore was 13 of 14 at the charity stripe.

After blowing the lead in the fourth, the Longhorns refused to go away. McCarty scored five of her 16 points in the final minute but missed a three-point attempt to tie it as time expired.

The Longhorns came out of the gate energized and completely frustrated the Lady Bears on the offensive end. After senior forward Nina Davis scored on Baylor’s second possession of the game, the Lady Bears then went scoreless for the next four minutes.

Brown got the Lady Bears back to within one point after consecutive layups but then Texas went on an 11-4 run to end the opening quarter.

Turnovers were a huge problem for the Lady Bears early on. They committed 19 turnovers, six higher than their average of 13, including 12 in the first half. The Longhorns were extremely opportunistic as they converted those miscues into 19 points.

As Baylor began to take care of the ball in the second half, the defense dug deeper, holding Texas to 29 percent shooting in the second half. The Lady Bears held McCarty to six of 15 from the floor and guard junior Ariel Atkins to 14 points on four of 17 shooting. Baylor did so while shooting 59 percent from the floor in the second half as well as without senior guard Alexis Jones, who left with a knee injury in the second quarter.

Jones did not score in nine minutes of play.

Texas now trails Baylor by a game in the Big 12 standings, falling to 21-6 overall and 14-2 in the conference. The Longhorns will host Iowa State at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Baylor improves to 26-2 and 15-1 as they reclaim the top spot in the Big 12. The Lady Bears will return home to host Texas Tech at noon on Saturday.

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