No. 7 Texas Women’s Basketball drops Big 12 Championship to No. 3 Baylor, 77-69

Filed under: Sports,UT Women's Basketball |

Texas’ six appearances in the Big 12 Championship final tie with Oklahoma for second-most championship final appearances in the tournament’s history

Ariel Atkins (23) – – The No. 8 Texas Women’s Basketball team lost on to No. 2 Baylor, 77-69, in the Big 12 Tournament championship game on Monday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

Seniors Ariel Atkins and Brooke McCarty were selected for the Big 12 All-Tournament team after strong performances during the weekend and regular season.

Junior guard Lashann Higgs, playing her 100th game in a Texas uniform, scored a game-high 20 points to complement a season-high seven rebounds and three assists in 33 minutes of play. Higgs eclipsed the 20-point plateau for the fourth time this season.

McCarty scored 16 points and connected on four three-pointers. That gave her 239 treys for her career, which moved her into sole possession of second place on UT’s all-time career three-pointers made list. Senior guard Ariel Atkins and junior forward Jatarie White each added 12 points.

Baylor jumped on the attack early, picking up four points before fouling Atkins at the baseline and giving Texas two free throws. Higgs held firm and dropped a three-pointer from the left wing to give Texas its first lead of the game at 5-4. Higgs ran through a stiff Baylor defense to claim the lay-up and a foul, granting Texas an and-one point. Baylor’s Lauren Cox missed a free throw, keeping Texas ahead 10-7. Atkins picked up a jumper as Baylor’s Alexis Morris missed a three-point attempt. The teams battled back and forth, but Baylor went on a 7-0 run, bringing the score to 15-12, Baylor, with just under four minutes remaining in the first period. Higgs picked up a lay-up and free throw after a foul on BU’s Juicy Landrum. McCarty drained a three at 1:36, putting Texas back in the lead by a single point. Sophomore guard/forward Joyner Holmes picked up an offensive rebound, giving the Longhorns another chance after a missed field goal attempt from Higgs. With less than 15 seconds remaining, Morris threw the ball behind her head to Lauren Cox, who was waiting at the top of the key to sink the jumper, putting Baylor ahead 19-18 as time expired. Higgs claimed 11 of Texas’ 18 first-quarter points.

In the second quarter, a jumper from White was quickly answered by a jumper from Baylor’s Lauren Cox. Higgs sank another three, as baskets traded between the two teams. Sophomore guard Sug Sutton drove down the lane for a pull-up jumper, putting Texas ahead. Atkins aided in the effort, giving Texas a four-point cushion. Baylor quickly came back with baskets from Morris and Didi Richards, tying 29-29 before the media time-out. Texas broke threw 30 points first, off of a baseline teardrop floater. With two minutes left in the first half, the score hovered at 33-31, Baylor, as Texas remained in the thick of a 2:24 scoring drought. White brought the Longhorns out with a jumper, tying the score at 33-33, as Baylor remained in the middle of a 2:39 scoring drought. The half ended with Baylor ahead 35-33.

The initial scoring from both teams struggled in the third quarter, with Texas only making one of their last eight field goal attempts and Baylor scoring zero field goals for over four minutes. Texas called timeout at 3:26 after a jumper from Atkins put the Longhorns three points behind the Lady Bears. McCarty took a chance at 1:40 and launched a three-point attempt, sinking it cleanly. As Texas struggled to finish lay-ups, Baylor rattled off a mini 4-0 run, leaving Texas behind by six points heading into the fourth period.

The energy only intensified in the fourth quarter, with back-to-back three-pointers and great offensive efforts from both teams early on. White’s jumper at 7:52 brought Texas just two points shy of Baylor’s lead. A fantastic Texas team defense shut Baylor out on two possessions, with a lay-up from Holmes to tie the score 55-55. Morris’ two free throws put Texas behind again, but not before McCarty nailed a three-point basket, putting Texas in the lead for the first time in the second quarter, 58-57. Texas called time-out after Baylor put up four unanswered points in response. With less than three minutes left, a Holmes free throw tied the score 64-64. Texas’ scoring was left to 0-of-5, in the midst of a 2:15 scoring drought. Texas was unable to recover as the Lady Bears went on a 9-0 run over the next 1:32.

Up next, Texas will await its fate in the NCAA tournament. The selection show is set for Monday, March 12 at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN. The Longhorns are expected to make their fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.