No. 5 seed Baylor women’s basketball zooms past No. 12 seed Texas Tech 71-60 in Big 12 tourney

The Bears combined to outscored the Lady Raiders 36-19 in the first and fourth quarters. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

The Bears knew they had to lock in to their second-round matchup when the Lady Raiders trimmed a 15-point third-quarter lead to just two going into the fourth.

No. 5 seed Baylor women’s basketball proceeded to put the fourth-quarter clamps on No. 12 seed Texas Tech, as it ran away with a 71-60 victory in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship on Friday afternoon in the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City, Mo.

“There for a moment — give credit to Tech — they did a really good job with their game plan,” associate coach Tari Cummings said on ESPN Central Texas 1660 AM radio. “We just had to reverse that energy.”

The Bears (24-6) move on to the quarterfinals, where they’ll face No. 4 seed Iowa State at 11 a.m. on Saturday in the same venue. Baylor has won the tournament 11 times, with its last title coming in 2021, and the team is now riding a six-game winning streak — currently the longest in the conference.

“That third quarter wasn’t the best for us, but typically in the last five games, we feel like our team is headed in the right direction, and [we’re] peaking where we need to be at the right time,” Cummings said.

The Lady Raiders (16-16) put themselves in position to win when they went on a 14-2 run midway through the third quarter. The Bears had taken as much as a 15-point lead in the period, but Texas Tech trimmed that to two by the time the horn sounded.

Junior guard Yaya Felder scored four quick points to open the fourth, though, as Baylor retook command of the game with an 8-0 run. That swing proved to be the difference, with both teams trading baskets the rest of the way, leading to the Bears’ 11-point win.

Texas Tech defeated 13th-seeded Houston 74-60 on Friday in the first round of the tournament, and Baylor had a first-round bye thanks to its fifth-place finish in regular season play.

Four Bears finished in double-figure scoring on Friday, led by senior guard Sarah Andrew’s 13-point outing. Assist numbers were low (the team combined for nine on 27 made shots), but graduate student forward Aijha Blackwell came one rebound shy of a double-double, with 11 points and nine rebounds.

Felder (10) snapped a seven-game streak of failing to notch 10 or more points off the bench.

Baylor led for the entire game outside of the first 1:12 when the game was tied 0-0. The Bears outshot the Lady Raiders 50% to 48% from the floor and 38% to 33% from beyond the arc. They were also +12 and plus-eight in bench points and points in the paint, respectively.

Similar to the last meeting in Waco, Baylor raced out to a quick lead. The Bears went on an 8-0 run to start the game and didn’t allow a Texas Tech bucket until nearly four minutes of the first quarter went by. Baylor led 17-9 by the end of the frame.

The Lady Raiders more than doubled their scoring output in the second quarter (19 points), but sophomore forward Darianna Littlepage-Buggs (6), graduate student forward Dre’Una Edwards (5) and Fontleroy (5) combined for 16 of the Bears’ 23 second-quarter points.

Andrews scored a layup off a Texas Tech turnover to give Baylor a 12-point edge (40-28) going into the break.

The Lady Raiders rallied back in the third, but the Bears finished the game in the fourth quarter just as strong as they started the game in the first. Texas Tech committed 16 of its 23 turnovers in the first (8) and the fourth (8) quarters.

Cummings said the team’s message going into the fourth quarter revolved around its “energy.”

“We just know we needed to pick it up, and from a defensive standpoint, obviously in that third quarter, we allowed too many points,” Cummings said. “And quite frankly, we just weren’t guarding like we [normally] guard.

“Our bench came in, gave great energy. Yaya, she came in and was a spark for us there, and Jana [Van Gytenbeek]. And so we just challenged them. And then we picked them up full court and that kind of turned it around.”

Baylor came away with the 71-60 victory despite 35 combined points by Texas Tech sophomore guards Jasmine Shavers (20) and Bailey Maupin (15). No other Lady Raider scored more than eight points.

The Bears now look to a rematch with the Cyclones (18-10), who had a two-round bye after finishing as a top-four team in the Big 12. Iowa State defeated Baylor 66-63 on Jan. 13 in Ames, Iowa. That was the only regular-season meeting between the teams.

Cummings said the Bears are more focused on winning the conference tournament than getting revenge against Iowa State. She added that this squad has grown a lot since that setback in January, which was on the early end of a 10-game stretch that saw Baylor go 4-6.

The Bears opened the year 14-0, then went 4-6 in their next 10 contests and have now won the last six games.

“Now we’re back on track,” Cummings said. “We’re back to the Baylor basketball that we were playing earlier in the season. And the chemistry’s there, we’re clicking, we’re locked in.”