Lady Bears host Longhorns in battle of Big 12 giants

Senior guard Kristy Wallace drives to the basket in a Jan. 20 game against Kansas State. Wallace will have her hands full against the Texas guards as the Lady Bears welcome the Longhorns to the Ferrell Center on Thursday. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Ben Everett | Sports Writer

Third ranked Baylor women’s basketball takes on sixth ranked Texas at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Ferrell Center.

The Lady Bears (17-1, 7-0) have rattled off 14 straight wins, while the Longhorns (15-3, 6-1) have lost two of their last four games.

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said Texas is as talented and deep as anyone they will face.

“Texas has the most talent in the league,” Mulkey said. “They have the most depth in the league. Three outstanding guards… they certainly match up with us well in the post. It’s gonna be a great basketball game, I hope.”

The Longhorns’ three leading scorers are all guards. Junior Lashann Higgs leads Texas in scoring at 15.2 points per game. Senior Ariel Atkins is putting up 15 points per game on 42 percent shooting from three-point range. Senior Brooke McCarty averages 13.4 points per game and leads the team in assists with an average of 4.9 per game.

The Longhorns start senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau and junior center Jatarie White up front, each of whom are 6-foot-4. Junior forward Jordan Hosey and freshman forward Rellah Boothe provide post depth for Texas.

Baylor’s front court combination of sophomore forward Lauren Cox and junior center Kalani Brown is averaging 36.8 points and 19.2 rebounds per game, but other than those two, the Lady Bears lack true post players.

Baylor and Texas rank among the leaders in the country in scoring offense. The Lady Bears are second with an average of 88.7 points per game, while the Longhorns sit at eighth, scoring 84.7 points per game.

Baylor senior guard Kristy Wallace said Texas does a great job of scoring in transition, so getting back on missed shots will be crucial for the defense.

“It’s gonna be a big key to winning the game,” Wallace said. “We’re gonna need to play good team defense and our transition defense is going to need to be really good because they run really hard and their offense in transition is really good.”

The Lady Bear defense has been dominant all season by allowing opponents to shoot just 30.2 percent from the field on average.

Additionally, Baylor wins games by getting off to hot starts. The Lady Bears are outscoring opponents 419 to 226 in the first quarter this season.

Wallace said a dominant first quarter would be huge against a talented Texas team.

“It’s important to get out there and set the tone,” Wallace said. “I think we’re capable of doing that and we’ll get out there and be ready to play.”

Former Lady Bear and 2005 National Champion Chameka Scott, who died of cancer Sunday night, will be honored during the game.

T-shirts will be given out with Scott’s number on the back and there will be a video presentation and moment of silence for Scott prior to tipoff. Baylor players will wear a patch with her initials on their jersey for the remainder of the season. Scott’s family as well as many of her former teammates are expected to be in attendance.

Following the showdown with Texas, the Lady Bears take on West Virginia at 2 p.m. Sunday in Morgantown, W.Va.