WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey knows there are plenty of people surprised at how her team is playing.
Remember, Texas was the preseason pick to win the Big 12 this season, not the four-time defending champion Lady Bears who have now won 16 games in a row.
Nina Davis scored 25 points and Niya Johnson had 15 points with 12 assists as No. 3 Baylor beat the suddenly struggling No. 8 Longhorns 75-58 on Monday night.
“This team has probably surprised y’all, but I get to be around them every day,” Mulkey said. “While there are still things that aggravate me and frustrate me … I’m talking about a team that’s too young to know some of the things we need to do to win a national championship and a Big 12 championship. But they give me everything they have on the floor.”
The Lady Bears (17-1, 6-0 Big 12), with only one senior, took control with a 10-0 run before halftime against a Texas team that had been 3-0 against top-10 teams this season, already with earlier wins against Stanford, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
But the Longhorns (14-3, 3-3) have lost three of their last four games overall, and suffered a big blow when leading scorer and rebounder Nneka Enemkpali injured her left knee while grabbing an offensive rebound in the first half.
“Obviously a tough evening for our team,” coach Karen Aston said.
Enemkpali was in obvious pain, clutching her knee and crying out after falling awkwardly to the floor with 5:44 left in the first half.
While Aston said the extent of the injury wasn’t known, “it’s a concern of ours right now. … She’s going to be out for a little bit. I mean it was significant looking enough that I doubt she will be back tomorrow or the next day.”
Brooke McCarty led Texas with 14 points. Kelsey Lang had 12 points and Davenport 10. Enemkpali’s six rebounds in 12 minutes matched the team high with Lang, who played 34 minutes.
Texas was down 24-16 when Enemkpali got hurt with 5:44 left in the first half. Baylor then added a free throw before the Longhorns scored six points in a 32-second span.
Empress Davenport made a jumper with 5:01 left before Krystle Henderson had a steal and an assist to Ariel Atkins on a layup. The Longhorns followed a miss by Wright when Henderson’s assist on Lang’s layup with 4:29 left to get them within 25-22.
They never got closer, missing their next four shots before five turnovers to finish the half.
Imani Wright added 11 points for Baylor, including a jumper with 3:03 left to start the half-ending run to go 35-22. Wright also had two assists in the spurt, including her steal that led to a fastbreak layup by Davis.
“It was a game of runs in the first half, and I thought after Nneka was injured, they just outplayed us,” Mulkey said. “I thought they outhustled us, I thought they had a sense of urgency and we had to regroup a little bit there. I just thought we played a solid game.”
The Longhorns were 13-0, their third-best start in school history, before their recent slump. … Coach Karen Aston, in her third season at Texas and eighth overall, has 149 career victories.
Baylor has won 13 consecutive home games. … The Lady Bears were 0-for-8 on 3-pointers, ending a span of 83 consecutive games with a 3-pointer since Nov. 13, 2012, against Kentucky.
SERIES HAS SWITCHED
Texas still has a 57-30 lead in the series against Baylor, but the Lady Bears have won the last nine games. The Lady Bears are 21-10 in the series, 12-3 at home, in their 15 seasons under coach Kim Mulkey.
The Lady Bears were 0-for-8 on 3-pointers, ending a span of 83 consecutive games with a 3-pointer since Nov. 13, 2012, against Kentucky. Texas finished 2-of-9, and missed its first seven before McCarty hit one with 5:39 left in the game, and another in the final minute.
Texas plays at home Sunday vs. Iowa State.
Baylor is home Saturday against Kansas State.
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