Longhorns fall in crucial conference matchup

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

The Longhorns stood sparsely on the court, defending Baylor’s inbounds pass with 6.1 seconds to go Monday night in front of 7,103 fans at the Frank Erwin Center.

Down by three points after a ferocious Baylor comeback, No. 6 Texas needed a steal. Sophomore guard Lashann Higgs delivered.

Higgs reached in, stole the inbounds pass and kicked it out to Texas’ sharpshooter, junior guard Brooke McCarty, with a chance to send the game to overtime.

The shot went up. But it didn’t fall.

Texas players hunched over as time expired, and the ravenous, season-best crowd went silent. Baylor escaped with a narrow 70-67 victory. 

“We had a shot with (Brooke) here at the end,” head coach Karen Aston said. “And I’d take that everyday, all day.”

McCarty knocked down four triples in the contest for a team-high 16 points, but the one shot that mattered the most didn’t make it through the net. 

“I just have to knock those down,” McCarty said. “And I will knock those down.” 

The rematch emulated the first meeting between the teams two weeks ago, where Texas stole a 85-79 victory in Waco. But this time, Baylor’s second-half heroics were too much for the Longhorns. 

“I thought we played really hard, and we just didn’t win,” Aston said. “I was really impressed with how our team played for a lot of reasons. Big game, big environment and some are new to this, and I was real pleased with the way we handled it.” 

Sophomore forward Kalani Brown led the short-handed Bears back from an 11-point deficit at the half en route to a career night of 35 points, 13 rebounds and a clutch performance at the free-throw line. Brown found herself at the line 16 times and knocked down all but one, making more foul shots than the Longhorns even attempted.   

Texas led for just over 32 minutes in the thriller. But it slipped away as the final five minutes ensued.

The Bears got off to a rough start, but despite a dismal first-half shooting performance and the loss of senior guard Alexis Jones, who left the game with a knee injury, Baylor mustered up enough energy to regain
the reins.

The Bears grabbed a 56-55 lead with 4:59 remaining in the game. Two weeks ago in Waco, Baylor evened the score late but never got the chance to take the lead in the final minutes. Led by Brown, the Bears completed their comeback this time.

Aston pounded her fists in the air as the Bears got second chances on key possessions down the stretch.

“Different players on their team took advantage of that and got a lot of offensive rebounds,” Aston said. “I thought that was really the difference in the game.” 

The energy and hustle Texas stormed out of the gates with dwindled down in the game’s final minutes without the help of its bigs. Senior center Kelsey Lang left the game after suffering an eye injury. Lang’s partner in the post, freshman forward Joyner Holmes, grabbed 12 rebounds in the loss, but foul trouble ended her night with 1:23 remaining.

“I don’t take satisfaction in losing,” junior guard Ariel Atkins said. “Our team is better. I think the most important thing for me right now is to think about how much we’ve matured as a team and that’s
probably my focal point right now.”

After a two-game slide against Oklahoma and Baylor, Texas looks to bounce back Friday as it hosts Iowa State.