By Jeffrey Swindoll
Baylor women’s basketball has done it again: The No. 3 Lady Bears clinched a share of the Big 12 Conference title for the fifth straight season after a gritty 67-60 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock on Wednesday. Baylor can still win the title outright with four games remaining in the regular season.
The Red Raiders were the first team to seriously present a challenge to the Lady Bears in the past three games. The lead swung back and forth, as well as the momentum in the game. Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey was forced to find different ways to break down Texas Tech’s defense.
Baylor took the lead in first series plays, but Texas Tech came right back, alternating the lead between each other in an almost rhythmic fashion. Halfway through the first half, the Lady Bears finally pulled ahead for their longest portion of the game, claiming a 36-30 lead at halftime.
Texas Tech tried to snatch back the lead, succeeding to do so for only a matter of moments on two occasions. The Lady Bears simply outlasted Texas Tech on the boards and made free throws down the stretch to secure the win. The issue that kept the Red Raiders in the late game was the Lady Bears’ problem with turnovers. Baylor committed 22 turnovers compared to Texas Tech’s 15.
Sophomore forward Nina Davis for once was not the leading scorer for the Lady Bears. Davis was behind in the points total, but was still critical as ever to the Lady Bears’ success in Lubbock. Davis scored 12 points and grabbed a team-leading 10 rebounds.
Junior guard Niya Johnson, usually the team’s leader in assists, provided the Lady Bears with a team-high 17 points.
The Lady Bears supporting cast was crucial to Wednesday’s win in Lubbock. Senior forward Sune Agbuke and sophomore guard Alexis Prince scored nine points apiece. Sophomores Imani Wright and Khadijiah Cave combined for 15 points.
Even though the Lady Bears outrebounded the Red Raiders by 22, Texas Tech hung in there with excellent three-point shooting. Texas Tech shot 11-for-20 from downtown compared to the Lady Bears’ two three-point field goals.
The Lady Bears return home to face TCU at 7 p.m. on Saturday. A win on Saturday would clinch sole possession of the Big 12 title for the Lady Bears.