AUSTIN, Texas — A much-improved Texas women's basketball team played an inspired brand of basketball Monday night, but fell to No. 6 Baylor, 64-57, at the Frank Erwin Center.
The loss drops Texas to 16-8 overall and 10-7 in Big 12 play, a game behind Iowa State for fourth place in the Big 12. Baylor is now 20-2 overall and 11-1 in conference action and with the win, claimed the Big 12 regular season conference title.
"We're not into moral victories, by any means, but I am extremely proud of the way we fought tonight," said senior point guard Kyra Lambert, who played her last home game Monday.
Texas came out of the gates with a relentless pressing defense, stifling the Lady Bears' offensive attack in the early going. Baylor was held to just 24 points in the first half, and shot 33 percent in the first quarter (for perspective, the Bears are shooting better than 48 percent this season). Though Texas struggled to gets its offense on track, the Horns were only outscored by a single point as the second quarter began, trailing 10-9.
Neither team put the ball in the bucket for the first 2:13 of the second period, but Texas guard Joanne Allen-Taylor countered a layup and free throw by Baylor center Queen Egbo at the 6:23 mark, knocking down a mid-range jumper to make it a one-possession game with the score 13-11.
The visitors embarked on a 6-0 run before Texas countered with a 6-2 scoring run of its own before halftime, cutting the lead to two, 24-22, on a free throw by center/forward Charli Collier with five seconds to play in the quarter.
Throughout the season, Texas head coach Vic Schaefer has spoken of his team struggling the third quarter, and that was brought to light by Baylor's methodical offensive attack coming out of halftime, as the Lady Bears scoring the first six points of the second half. Baylor outscored Texas, 26-14, in the third, extinguishing the upset bid.
Guard Celeste Taylor scored three of Texas' first five points in the final period. Allen-Taylor connected from three-point range to cut the deficit to single digits, 64-55, with 36 seconds left, but there was not nearly enough time for the Longhorns to get much closer.
Collier fouled out for the second straight game, and narrowly missed a double-double with a 12-point, nine-rebound performance. She scored just two points in the first meeting against the Bears, which Baylor won, 60-35; her combined 14 points in the two games are more than seven points below her season average. Allen-Taylor paced the team with 15 points, hitting two of three attempts from three-point range. Warren was the only other Longhorn in who scored double figures with 12 points.
A high point for the Horns was their defensive intensity, as Texas forced 23 turnovers, compared to 19 of their own. UT was outrebounded 34-28; Egbo, who scored 13 points (trailing only teammate NaLyssa Smith's 23), grabbed a game-high 14 boards.
The Longhorns now must look ahead to the season finale when the Longhorns visit TCU in Fort Worth at 1 p.m. Sunday. The Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship will be held March 11-14 in Kansas City, Mo.