Women’s basketball off-target throughout in 60-35 loss to Baylor

14 Feb By
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Guard Celeste Taylor had a team-high 11 points, making her the only Longhorn to score in double figures in the UT's 60-35 loss at Baylor (photo courtesy of texassports.com).

WACO, Texas — It is not often that Texas center Charli Collier is outplayed, but on Sunday afternoon, her shooting was as cold as the temperature outside the Ferrell Center. The result was a direct correlation of that, as the Texas women's basketball team fell to No. 7/9 Baylor, 60-35.

Collier, UT's leading scorer entering the contest, shot the ball just three times, scoring a mere two points. As a team, the Longhorns reflected the struggles of their top scorer, shooting just 24.6 percent from the field compared to 42.0 percent shooting by the Bears, and scoring the second-fewest points in the program's 47-year history.

"We got a bunch of really good looks," Texas head coach Vic Schaefer said, "but we couldn't make a shot. I thought they did a good job of taking away Charli, and when that happens, we have to work harder, and at the same time, some other people need to step up. We didn't make any shots today."

While he was extremely disappointed in the offense, he repeatedly praised his squad's defensive effort. After all, Texas held Baylor to its fewest points of the entire season, and 22 below its average. As Schaefer noted, though, basketball is not football, and playing just one end of the floor is almost guaranteed to result in a loss.

"You can't check out mentally in a game. You have to play both ends of the floor," Schaefer said. "It's not football. You got to play both ends of the floor. We still fight the intensity piece, we still fight the focus piece, but again, we're getting better."

Besides Collier's two points and UT's 35 points, the key statistic Schaefer was looking at postgame was the rebounding battle. Though Texas went with a "big lineup" that included Collier and 6-4 center Lauren Ebo for much of the contest, the Longhorns were outrebounded 51-31.

"A glaring stat is that we played the big lineup a lot, we were outrebounded [by] 20," Schaefer said. "That's a big stat."

After Baylor went up, 4-0, to open the game, Celeste Taylor got a layup to go, putting UT's first points on the board with 8:51 left in the opening quarter. Taylor took four of Texas' first five shots, but Schaefer said postgame that he felt his guards were "timid" in that opening quarter, and struggled to shoot the ball with confidence.

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Defense was the only thing that kept Texas in the game in the early going. The Horns failed to score in the final 2:58 of the first quarter, but Baylor managed just one point, a free throw, for the final five minutes of the first. The Lady Bears held a four-point lead heading into the second quarter, 12-8, and Texas was within perfect striking distance.

Though Baylor continued to have trouble getting shots to fall, Texas had a similar issue, and the Lady Bears slowly took over, pushing the lead to double-digits, 22-11, on a three-pointer by guard Dijonai Carrington,with 4:22 left in the second quarter. Carrington connected again from behind the arc 37 seconds later, putting Baylor in front, 25-11.

As it turned out, that was just the beginning of Baylor's dominance, as the Lady Bears headed to the half up 32-17.

Though Schaefer said he did the best he could to instill a fire into his team at the half, Baylor simply had too much left in the tank, and pulled away as soon as the third quarter got underway. The Lady Bears outscored Texas in each quarter — Baylor scored 21 points in the second quarter; Texas scored 23 in the first three quarters combined, and only reached double digits in the fourth, with 12. The UT defense was there in the third, as Baylor managed just eight points, but the Horns still could not get shots to fall and failed to cut into the lead. The fourth followed the same pattern. Baylor had the game won, and won convincingly, long before the final buzzer.

"As I told the team, and this from experience: championship teams play harder, execute better, and defend tougher," Schaefer said, "If you want to beat a team like that, you have to play harder, execute better and defend tougher."

The loss moved Texas to 14-6 overall and 8-5 in Big 12 play. The Horns are now fifth in the conference standings, and with the win, Baylor remained just ahead of West Virginia in first place with an 11-1 Big 12 record.

Schaefer expressed his concern surrounding the weather situation throughout much of the state, as his team was told to stay in Waco; with winter weather moving across central Texas, the Longhorns may be forced to head right to TCU Tuesday morning. The Horns will face the Horned Frogs at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday night.

"We can't focus on what they got going," Texas forward Lauren Ebo in response to a question about Baylor. "The focus is on us and what we can do moving forward."

Riley Zayas is a high school sophomore and freelance journalist from Round Rock, Texas. He began his journalism career as a Sports Illustrated Kids reporter and has since become a regular contributor to Horns Illustrated, covering Texas Longhorn sports. His work also includes Fellowship of Christian Athletes publications, College Baseball Nation and Sports Spectrum, a national christian sports website. He currently serves as the Managing Editor of True To The Cru, covering UMHB athletics. Twitter: @ZayasRiley