By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer, Video by Nate Smith | Broadcast Reporter
No. 2 Baylor women’s basketball defeated the Texas Longhorns at home Thursday night 69-53. The team improved to 28-1 on the season and 17-0 in the Big 12, just one game away from completing a perfect conference slate.
Thursday was a special night for the Lady Bears. Not only was it the last regular season home game, but it was also Senior Night. The team celebrated its seniors by holding a celebration at halftime, as well as by showing a post-game tribute video.
First, head coach Kim Mulkey presented gifts to the four senior student managers. The team celebrated its four senior players: graduate transfer Erin DeGrate, graduate transfer and starting point guard Te’a Cooper, starting guard Juicy Landrum and starting forward Lauren Cox.
Mulkey said it was awesome for the team to come out victorious on a special night for their players.
“They got a win for themselves,” Mulkey said. “It’s so exciting because all four of them scored, and all four of them were emotional for different reasons. They had their families here and it’s just something about – if you’ve put on that uniform – something about taking it off for the last time [for a regular season home game].”
Regarding the game itself, Baylor stormed out to a 15-4 lead in the first five minutes of the game after Cooper was fouled and successfully converted a three-point play. Cooper had 10 points in the first quarter, as every starter contributed to a 24-10 Lady Bears lead heading into the second period.
Cooper finished the game as Baylor’s leading scorer with 20 points while Cox added 17 points and 12 rebounds, including six on the offensive glass, giving her a double-double for the game.
Baylor, which came out sloppy in the second quarter with turnovers and missed shots, only scored five points in the first five minutes of the period. The entire quarter turned out to be low-scoring as each team notched just 10 points. Baylor entered halftime with a 34-20 lead.
The Lady Bears used the third quarter to ice the game. Near the end of the third, DeGrate came onto the court for the first time and made use of her opportunity. With just four seconds left in the quarter, she converted on a one-and-one, firing up the Ferrell Center crowd and giving Baylor a 57-34 lead heading into the final quarter.
Baylor has played Texas twice this season. Both times, they have locked down the Longhorns’ top two scorers, Charli Collier and Joyner Holmes. Collier and Holmes, who each average 13-plus points per game for the season, had 16 points total, shooting just a combined 7-25 from the field.
Cox said the players take the matchup as a challenge on defense.
“We take it personal,” Cox said. “I don’t know if it they were just missing shots, or if it was our defense tonight, but we take it personal.”
The Lady Bears rode their consistent defense, the backbone of the team, to a 21st straight victory.
Baylor finishes off the regular season at noon Sunday on the road against Iowa State before going up to Kansas City, Mo., for the 2020 Big 12 Championship Tournament next week.