Though junior forward Nneka Enemkpali grabbed 15 boards to complement 19 points, Texas (14-7, 5-4) couldn’t maintain its halftime lead against No. 9 Baylor (18-3, 8-1). The Longhorns fell 87-73 to their in-state rival.
“I’m very proud of our effort, but I don’t think we played very intelligently today,” head coach Karen Aston said. “Our guards will play and can play and have been playing a lot better than they played today, in particular [with] shot-taking and decision making.”
Texas outrebounded, outshot and outscored the Bears in a close first half that featured six lead changes and competitive play. A buzzer beater by freshman forward Nekia Jones gave Texas a 36-35 advantage to finish the first half. Texas’ pressure defense restricted senior guard Odyssey Sims to 6-for-18 from the field in the first half. The defense denied Sims’ teammates as well. The Bears connected on only nine field goals — their lowest first half total in conference play this season.
“We didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the first half,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “We knew, though, that we were still in the game, and that we had a chance to win it, [even with] shooting 28 percent in the first half.”
Texas allowed the Bears a boost of confidence as it plunged into foul trouble. The Longhorns committed 20 fouls in the game to help Baylor finish with 37 points from the charity stripe.
“We didn’t make adjustments to the way the game was being officiated,” Aston said. “Baylor did a better job of making adjustments in the second half and not putting us on the line.”
Texas ushered one Bear after the next to the free-throw line. The rampant fouls allowed Sims to compensate for 22 missed field goals, as she sunk 14 second-half free throws. She finished with 44 points, her fourth game with more than 40 this season. Sophomore guard Celina Rodrigo, who finished with 10 points and seven assists, said Sims posed a multifaceted challenge that Texas couldn’t handle.
“If you go over the screen, she’ll shoot a three, but if you go under the screen, help has to be there,” Rodrigo said. “Our defense struggled; our help wasn’t there, and we didn’t make the right rotations.”
Although Texas didn’t make the necessary team adjustments on defense, numerous players contributed to its offensive threat. Five Longhorns reached double figures. Enemkpali — who led all Longhorns in points and rebounds — echoed Aston’s concern that they “lost the possession game very clearly.”
“If we had responded the way we should have responded [in] the second half and found a way to … secure the offensive rebounds, that would’ve helped,” Enemkpali said. “Offensive rebounds really hurt us late in the game.”
Texas resumes conference play at 7 p.m. Wednesday night against Texas Tech at the Frank Erwin Center.