In need of a signature win to boost their tournament resume, the Longhorns came out flat and found themselves on the wrong end of a milestone performance from Brittney Griner and the No. 1 Baylor Bears (28-0, 15-0 Big 12) on Tuesday night.
The Lady Bears held Texas (15-12, 5-10 Big 12) to a miserable 34 percent shooting, while outscoring the Longhorns 40-26 in the paint, en route to an 80-59 romp at the Ferrell Center in Waco. Griner, playing in her 100th game as a Lady Bear, had 18 points and 10 rebounds to earn her 40th career double-double as Baylor claimed the outright Big 12 regular season title with the victory.
“Baylor proved once again why they’re the No. 1-ranked team in the country,” said head coach Gail Goestenkors. “We did some things defensively that bothered them initially, but they did what they always do and they adjusted and went on a run. They found a way, and that’s what great teams do.”
Griner, who was recognized in a pre-game ceremony after becoming the fourth Lady Bear to reach the 2000 career point threshold, opened the scoring with a layup at 19:31 in the first half and the Lady Bears held onto the lead the rest of the way.
The 6’8” junior made her presence felt on the defensive end all night, blocking four shots while altering several others.
“[Griner] definitely makes you want to shoot more outside shots,” said senior Texas guard Yvonne Anderson. “As a guard, she intimidates you to the point where you want to shoot outside. Our posts don’t really look to score versus her. It’s just an intimidation factor.”
Texas’ starting post combination of Anne Marie Hartung and Ashley Gayle failed to record a point, missing all six of their field goals, and pulled down a measly nine total rebounds. The other two bigs for the Longhorns, Cokie Reed and Nneka Enemkpali combined to score just five points off the bench.
With Griner causing so many problems inside, Texas’ guards were forced to take a lot of outside shots and struggled to find their stroke.
“They play excellent team defense,” Goestenkors said. “Brittney [Griner] gets a lot of credit for blocking and changing shots inside, but it’s their perimeter defense that sets the tone.”
Defensively, Texas struggled to rebound the ball. The Lady Bears used the mismatch in size and strength to their advantage on the offensive glass, tallying 21 second-chance points on 19 offensive rebounds.
“Even when their shots weren’t falling early, they found a way to get the offensive rebounds,” Goestenkors said. “We weren’t finishing the shot with a rebound.”
The Longhorns now have their work cut out for them if they hope to make the “Big Dance.” Texas is going to have to win each of its last three games against Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas A&M, and have a couple bubble teams lose, to have any chance at being in this year’s NCAA tournament field.
“We have to let this one go and get ready for Oklahoma,” Anderson said. “There’s nothing we can change now. We can just learn from the little things that we haven’t been doing the whole season and commit to doing them against Oklahoma.”
Printed on Wednesday, February 22, 2012 as: Longhorns squashed by top ranked Lady Bears