Story by Nathan Keil | Sports Editor, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter
No. 3 Baylor entered its I-35 road trip game with No. 6 Texas separated by just three spots in the most recent AP Poll. But on the court, the Lady Bears once again proved why they are still the team to beat in the Big 12 conference.
Baylor showed its balance and inside-out attack with a career-high 24 points from senior forward Dekeiya Cohen and 23 points from senior guard Kristy Wallace. Junior center Kalani Brown added 17 points and 12 rebounds and sophomore forward Lauren Cox added 15 as the Lady Bears knocked off the Longhorns 93-87 Monday night.
Wallace was also a key facilitator for the Lady Bears, dishing out seven assists, collecting two steals and grabbing six rebounds.
Baylor was efficient on the offensive end, shooting 52 percent from the floor and knocking down 18 of 22 of their free throws, good for 81 percent.
Baylor also outrebounded Texas 42-27, making this 26 of 27 games where the Lady Bears have outrebounded their opponent this season.
Brown got it going early for Baylor. The 6’7″ junior could not be kept out of the paint as she showcased a variety of drives and layups against the Longhorns. Brown finished with 11 points in the first quarter as the Lady Bears jumped out to a 23-19 lead after 10 minutes of action.
Baylor continued to attack and show its balance as Cohen and Wallace both got involved in the second quarter as Baylor doubled its lead to eight points at 43-35 at the half.
But Texas was not going leave without a fight.
Brown picked up her third foul of the game at the 8:55 mark of the third quarter. The Longhorns took advantage temporarily, using a 10-2 spurt to tie the game at 45.
After a Wallace jumper put the Lady Bears in front by three, back-to-back baskets by senior guard Ariel Atkins, including a steal and coast-to-coast layup put Texas up 51-50.
Trailing by one and with Brown on the bench, Wallace took over the game, scoring eight of Baylor’s next points to put Baylor back in control.
Up nine heading to the fourth, Baylor continued its hot second half shooting, connecting on 12 of 13 field goals since trailing by one.
The Lady Bears pushed their lead to as many as 15 at 79-64 midway through the fourth, but Texas, led by senior guard Brooke McCarty’s career-high 32 points would not go away.
Every time Baylor would score down the floor, McCarty had the answer, scoring 16 points in the fourth, including four of her seven three-pointers, but Baylor had just enough to escape her heroic effort.
Atkins finished with 15 points while sophomore guard Joyner Holmes added 10 for Texas.
Baylor won for the eighth straight time in Austin and has won 16 of the last 17 matchups with Texas. The Lady Bears also wrap up their eighth straight regular season conference championship and will be the No. 1 seed in the Big 12 tournament, running March 2-5 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
However, the NCAA committee did its final Top 16 reveal and Baylor is currently projected to receive the top No. 2 seed in the tournament and is placed in the Lexington, Ky. regional, alongside No. 1 Louisville, No. 3 Tennessee and No. 4 Ohio State.
Texas, also received a No. 2 seed, but the Longhorns find themselves closer to home as they are projected to play in the Kansas City, Mo. regional, opposite of No. 1 seed Mississippi State.
No. 3 Baylor (26-1, 16-0) will put its 23-game winning streak on the line as it makes its final regular season road trip this weekend. The Lady Bears will head North on I-35 for a 5 p.m. matchup with TCU, a team they beat 83-63 on Feb. 10.