By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
In a battle for Big 12 superiority, No. 11 Texas blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead but held on to knock off No. 2 Baylor 85-79 at the Ferrell Center on Monday night, snapping the Lady Bears’ 21-game winning streak.
Junior guard Brooke McCarty led the upset effort with 22 points, and the Longhorns shot 52 percent from the field, the first to do so against Baylor this season.
Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said Texas was ready to play and that Baylor could never quite recover from the slow start.
“They came out on fire. I complement those guys; they were ready to play,” Mulkey said. “They had a lot of energy, a lot of fight in them, and they punched us right in the mouth.”
After trailing the entire game, Baylor used a 20-5 run to erase a 71-56 deficit and tie the game at 76 on sophomore post Kalani Brown’s free throw jumper. Freshman guard Joyner Holmes then put Texas back on top with a layup, and the Longhorns hit five of six from the free throw line down the stretch to seal the victory.
Despite trailing the entire game, Baylor continued to push and tried to swing the momentum back in its favor. When the Lady Bears cut into the lead, Texas found an answer. Some plays it was a driving layup by McCarty. Other times it was McCarty distributing the ball for an open jump shot.
The Longhorns were incredibly balanced offensively as four scored in double figures. Besides McCarty, junior guard Ariel Atkins had 20 points, Holmes finished with 18 and sophomore guard Lashann Higgs had 16.
The Longhorns also out-rebounded the Lady Bears 38-37, marking the first time Baylor has lost the rebounding edge the season. Texas also beat Baylor at its own game, outscoring the Lady Bears 42-38 in the paint.
Texas jumped out to a fast start, racing out to an early 10-4 lead and keeping up the pressure by shooting 11 of 15 from the floor in the second. Despite surrendering a big lead, the Longhorns remained poised and continued to keep the pressure on Baylor.
Brown led the way for the Lady Bears with 24 points and was the main target for the Lady Bears on the offensive end.
Brown said she was doing everything in her power to try and help her team win.
“I just played with a sense of urgency,” Brown said. “Whatever it was to try and help my team, whether rebounding or scoring, whatever [Mulkey] needed me to do, I was just trying to do it.”
Redshirt senior guard Alexis Jones scored all 19 of her points in the second half and 10 in the fourth quarter to help lead the comeback. Redshirt senior guard Alexis Prince added 14 for Baylor.
For Texas, the win marks the Longhorns’ 17th-straight victory this season and also puts an end to a 14-game losing streak to Mulkey and the Lady Bears. With Texas now a game up on Baylor, the road to the Big 12 championship goes through Austin. The two will tangle again on Feb. 20.
Texas head coach Karen Aston said the Longhorns’ composure and effort down the stretch proved to be the difference against Baylor.
“It was a really good basketball game, and it’s a credit to the Big 12. I think you saw tonight how good the Big 12 is,” Aston said. “It was a really tough game. I’m proud of our players. I thought they were tough tonight. Our composure and our competitiveness was what it had to be to win on someone’s home court as good as Baylor.”
Texas improved to 19-4, 13-0 in the Big 12. The Longhorns will host Kansas at 1:30 p.m Saturday.
Baylor dropped to 23-2, 12-1 in the conference. The loss snapped a 54-game winning streak at the Ferrell Center. The Lady Bears will return to action when they battle Texas Christian University at 3 p.m Sunday in Fort Worth.