Senior center Imani Boyette put the ball off the glass and through the basket to cut Baylor’s lead to 70-64 with 2:00 minutes left — Texas’ smallest deficit since early in the second quarter.
But No. 6 Baylor responded by ending the game on a 10-3 run — reminiscent of the way the Bears played for most of the game — handing the Longhorns their first loss of the season, 80-67.
Texas opened the game with a three from sophomore guard Brooke McCarty. The No. 4 Longhorns built a 16-9 lead late in the first quarter, but it wouldn’t last long.
Baylor (18-1, 5-1 Big 12) went on a 15-1 run in a two-and-a-half minute span to gain a 24-17 advantage over the Longhorns.
Texas crawled to within four points early in the second quarter, but Baylor brought a 41-29 lead into halftime. Redshirt junior Alexis Jones scored 16 of her game-high 29 points in the first half.
“We did some uncharacteristic things, like foul repeatedly,” head coach Karen Aston said. “[We] couldn’t get a grip of how the officiating was going in the first half. I thought it got us so out of sync.”
The Longhorns (16-1, 5-1 Big 12) committed 13 first half fouls to the Bears’ six. Baylor made Texas pay from the free-throw line by hitting all nine of its attempts in the first half.
As sloppy as the Longhorns were in terms of fouls, they were just as messy when it came to taking care of the basketball. Texas turned the ball over 14 times in the first half. Baylor gave it away only five times in the first 20 minutes.
“I think it was the loss of Celina [Rodrigo] and Brooke [McCarty] at the point position that hurt us,” Aston said. “I just couldn’t get [the bench] to slow down. They were trying to do some things that you would do maybe against a lesser opponent.”
Senior guard Celina Rodrigo played only 20 minutes because of early foul trouble. McCarty played 27 minutes but also had to sit much of the first half with two fouls.
McCarty played the entirety of the second half. She scored 13 of her 16 points in the final 20 minutes and almost gave Texas the spark it needed to complete a comeback.
Baylor led 58-42 with 1:41 left in the third quarter before McCarty drilled a corner three. She secured a defensive rebound on Baylor’s next possession and found senior guard Empress Davenport for a layup plus a foul to make the score 58-48.
Like Rodrigo and McCarty, Davenport was also limited by fouls. Despite going just 3-of-9 from the field, the senior knows that one game won’t define her team.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Davenport said. “This game is just like any other game. We don’t think of it [as] big or small — it’s just another game.”
Texas has now dropped 12 consecutive games against Baylor. The Longhorns’ next chance to end that streak comes on Feb. 29 — the last conference game of the regular season.
Boyette said that although it stings to lose to Baylor at home, she isn’t interested in the Bears anymore. Instead, she’s focused on what’s ahead.
“We have 12 more Big 12 games,” Boyette said. “We just have to make sure that we come in tomorrow and go to work. We have TCU on Wednesday. It’s a great team. [We] have to get ready.”