The No. 6 Lady Bears took down No. 4 Texas in Stillwater on Sunday, ending the Longhorns undefeated season, 80-67.
The Bears (18-1, 5-1) coming off a tough win against West Virginia were determined to add on to their win streak, but would be faced by a tough Longhorn team.
Being undefeated at home, the Longhorns (16-1, 5-1) sought to keep their winning streak alive, but fell short at home after the Bears regrouped and started to play as a team.
“This win today doesn’t win a championship for us,” said head coach Kim Mulkey. “But it gives us more confidence that we’re headed in the right direction, we’re getting healthier, and a road win is just big. And when you do it against a team that’s undefeated and ranked high, it shows what we’ve said: patience is a virtue, we’re going to get there. I thought focus and paying attention was a big part of us growing up.”
The Longhorns jumped out of the gates to take a quick lead over the Bears, but were stopped in their tracks after Mulkey called a time out to let her team regroup.
Regroup they did. The Bears went on a 15-1 run in the first half to gain all momentum and not allow the Longhorns to ever regain the lead.
Although the Longhorns never backed down, the Bears had everything going for them.
Coming back from the half, both teams fought and total points in the half were only separated by one point. However, the Bears run in the first half proved to be too much for the Bears to overcome which allowed them to take the game 80-67.
While the Bears ended the game shooting 96 percent from the foul, it was junior guard Alexis Jones that made the real impact for the Bears.
“Really, the coaches telling us how big this game was and how big a rivalry it was,” Jones said. “I just wanted to be a part of it and have as much energy as they gave us. I think we all had that same energy and fight like the coaches had to come in and play this game. It wasn’t just me. Everybody did exactly what they were supposed to do and what we practiced.”
After battling with a knee injury last year, Jones returned to her old form to record a career-high 29 points and a perfect 8 for 8 from the foul line.
“That’s the Alexis Jones we saw in high school,” Mulkey said. “I don’t know if she was more motivated today because it was Texas or because it was where she won her state championship. But that’s what I expect out of Alexis. . . . She’s getting a feel for it again.”
Mulkey praised Kristina Higgins for stepping up to shut down the 6-foot-7 center senior Imani Boyette, holding her to only two points in the second half.
“If you give anybody props, you better give (Higgins) big-time props,” Mulkey said. “Coming off the bench early in the game, she defended Boyette as good as anybody. She stayed on the floor, she made sure she contested shots. I just thought Higgins was the key for us early in the game.”
The Bears next test comes 12:30 p.m. Saturday against Iowa State (11-5, 3-2).