Ferrell Center

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

WACO, Texas — The No. 6 Longhorns entered Thursday night’s road game against No. 3 Baylor with hopes of a season-defining victory. Those hopes were shattered as Texas fell to the Bears in an 81-56 blowout. Here are five takeaways from the game.

Cox commands attention in first quarter

The Longhorns walked into the Ferrell Center with their sights locked on Baylor forward Kalani Brown. The 6-foot-7-inch center has tortured defenses all season, averaging 21.7 points and crashing the boards for 9.3 rebounds per game.

But with Texas determined to contain Brown, Baylor forward Lauren Cox broke free. The sophomore made the Longhorns pay in the first quarter, going 3-for-3 from the field and sinking all five shots at the free throw line for 11 total points.

The Bears won the opening quarter in every way, out-rebounding, out-shooting and out-hustling the Longhorns to take a 28-18 lead at the break.

“I expected (Baylor) to be really passionate and energetic in the way that they played,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “But I’m surprised by our team’s lack of composure and competitiveness in the first quarter.”

Baylor shuts down McCarty in the first half

Senior guard Brooke McCarty is the engine for the Longhorns, and that engine couldn’t start in the first half.

The League City native found herself at the mercy of Baylor guard Kristy Wallace, unable to create penetration and get open looks for her team.

McCarty totaled just four points on 1-of-8 shooting at the half as the Bears laid into the Longhorns, outscoring them 22-9 to break the game wide open.

Texas shot 26.5 percent in the first half as the Bears entered halftime with a commanding 44-27 lead. The 17-point deficit marked the most the Longhorns had trailed all season.

Brown explodes in the third quarter

With the Longhorns still doozy from the first half, Brown hit her stride in the third quarter.

The 11th-highest scorer in the nation owned the paint, exploiting Texas’ defense for nine points on 4-of-8 shooting.

Brown got the undisputed victory in her highly anticipated matchup with junior forward Jatarie White, crashing the glass for four rebounds to White’s one in the third quarter.

Texas had no answer as the Bears cruised into the final quarter with a 64-42 lead.

Baylor doesn’t ease up in the fourth quarter

The Bears kept their foot on the gas in the fourth quarter, tallying four offensive boards and forcing four Texas turnovers.

Wallace continued to win the battle against McCarty, finishing with 27 points on the night, including nine in the fourth quarter alone.

“(Wallace) controlled the game from the jump,” Aston said. “She made a lot of plays for (Baylor) and had a big game.”

The Bears kept their starters in until the final buzzer sounded, securing a dominant 81-56 victory at home.

Texas shows glaring flaws in loss

The 25-point trashing is Texas’ largest loss since 2016 when the Longhorns fell to Baylor, 74-48, on Feb. 29.

Frontcourt scoring proved fatal for the Longhorns as senior forward Audrey-Ann Caron-Goudreau and White combined for just 11 points. Three-point woes also plagued Texas as the Longhorns shot an abysmal 3-for-15 from behind the arc.

For a Texas team that fell just short to No. 1 UConn in a 75-71 heartbreaker on Jan. 15, Thursday’s blowout defeat is a step backward.

“It is frustrating when you don’t show up,” senior guard Ariel Atkins said. “They out-worked us, had more energy and played with passion. They were a team tonight, and we weren’t.”

Photo Credit: Juan Figueroa | Daily Texan Staff

WACO, Texas — Three looks inside and zero points to show for it.

Late in the second quarter of No. 6 Texas’ 81-56 loss to No. 3 Baylor on Thursday night, sophomore guard Alecia Sutton received an inbound pass near the left block, a half-step in front of her defender. Another dribble would have given her a chance at a layup.

Instead, Sutton just glanced inside and dribbled back near the top of the key to reset the offense. She noticed junior forward Olamide Aborowa wide open on the opposite side of the lane and lobbed a pass.

Aborowa mishandled the catch. She pump-faked once, then pitched it to Jada Underwood in the middle of the floor. The sophomore wing hesitated, then tried for an up-and-under post move right before the shot clock ran out.

A thicket of long-limbed Bears loomed in the paint. The Longhorns couldn’t explode their way through it. They tried dancing around it instead, but never found the right rhythm. The ball rimmed out, completing a sequence that encapsulated Texas’ night.

“I didn’t think they played scared. I just didn’t think they matched Baylor’s passion,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “There’s been a couple of times this year when we haven’t done that. And this was by far our worst performance as far as simple things like competition.”

Baylor sophomore forward Lauren Cox collected the rebound and found freshman guard Alexis Morris on the outlet pass. Morris zoomed to the opposite end of the court and hit a mid-range jumper in transition, putting Baylor up 44-25 with 41 seconds left in the quarter.

Senior guard Brooke McCarty dripped in a buzzer-beating floater to end the half, but Texas was ultimately exiled to the perimeter. The Bears finished the game with seven blocks — including six from Cox alone — and out-rebounded the Longhorns, 50-34.

“I would say that their size and their length definitely makes it a little bit more difficult,” junior guard Lashann Higgs said. “But we’re just not competitive. They out-competed us. They were just tougher than us and were playing with a purpose.”

The Longhorns struggled just as much from outside. Texas launched plenty of open triples and jump shots, but the ball rarely found the bottom of the net. McCarty and fellow senior guard Ariel Atkins combined to shoot just 8-for-30 from the field and 3-for-10 from three for 27 points.

Atkins’ composure suffered. Once the game slipped away, she began setting the ball on the floor after every call against Texas rather than handing it to the referee. She committed seven of the team’s 16 turnovers.

“It is frustrating when you don’t show up,” Atkins said. “They out-worked us, had more energy, they played with passion. They were a team tonight and we weren’t.”

Baylor (18–1, 8–0 Big 12) was one of the toughest opponents Texas (15–4, 6–2 Big 12) has played all season. 

Still, Aston knew her team could have performed better.

“I was a little surprised — a lot surprised by the lack of composure and competitiveness,” Aston said. “It was just a little bit of an old-fashioned butt-kicking.”

The Longhorns can’t afford to dwell on the loss. The Big 12 doesn’t allow teams much time to rest between games, and Texas is no exception.

“You’ve just got to go on to the next thing and just get back into the gym,” Higgs said. “Baylor wanted it more, so we can’t dwell on it.”

Texas hosts Iowa State at the Frank Erwin Center on Saturday at 7 p.m.

“We have to turn the page really quickly,” Aston said. “(Friday) will be more of a mental day. It’s not one of those times where you can go in there and run them to death or try to fix a competitive thing. They know — they’re competitive players. They know that they didn’t show up tonight. We have to turn the page and get ready for Iowa State.”