AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Texas likely didn’t expect to go undefeated this season. The Big 12 is too hard for that.
But given a chance to send a message the Longhorns were ready to knock Baylor from the top of the league fell flat Sunday as Lady Bears showed they are still the boss in the Big 12.
Alexis Jones scored 29 points and No. 6 Baylor beat the fourth-ranked Longhorns 80-67, sending Texas to its first loss of the season and earning the Lady Bears their 12th straight win in a tense league rivalry. Nina Davis added 24 points for the Lady Bears (18-1, 5-1), who scored 24 points off 21 Texas turnovers
“Anytime you lose a rivalry it stings, especially because we were on a roll,” said Texas center Imani Boyette. “We have to realize this isn’t last season, that its one game.”
Texas (16-1, 5-1), which had trailed for only 16 seconds in its previous five Big 12 games, was down by 12 at halftime after a rash of turnovers and foul trouble and never recovered.
Baylor pushed its lead as high as 19 in the third quarter when Kristy Wallace and Jones made early 3-pointers. Texas rallied late to get within six before Jones put the game away with a long jumper and four consecutive free throws over the final 90 seconds.
Brooke McCarty scored 16 for Texas.
Baylor has been the league’s heavyweight for a decade with six conference championships and two national titles since 2005 and Texas came in sensing an opportunity to establish a new balance of power in the Big 12.
Texas coach Karen Aston led the Longhorns back to the Sweet 16 last season and has one of the nation’s top-rate recruiting classes ready to join an experienced lineup next season.
The Lady Bears didn’t want to hear about any of that and seemed determined to send a message of their own: the Big 12 title still goes through Waco.
Texas will get its rematch there in the Big 12 season finale on Feb. 27, but will have to live with this one until then.
“This win today doesn’t win a championship for us, but a road win is big and against a team that is undefeated … I didn’t want us to get outhustled, outplayed,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey.
Baylor trailed 14-9 before a 15-3 run put the Bears up 24-17. Jones scored 16 in the first two quarters as the Lady Bears took a 41-29 lead into halftime. Baylor’s 41 points were the most Texas had surrendered in a half all season.
“They challenged us in a way we haven’t been challenged for a while,” Aston said. The last thing we need to do is put our heads down. We are still tied for first. I’ve seen teams in our league, one loss turns into two or 3
Texas ran into foul trouble early as starting guard Celina Rodrigo up three fouls in the first quarter. Without her, the Longhorns looked shaky and unsure of shot selection and committed 13 turnovers in the first half.
Texas made a late run to pull within 70-64 on a 3-pointer by Rodrigo — her first points of the game — and a long jumper by Imani Boyette with 1:58 left before Baylor’s Jones closed it out with six straight points.
Baylor: The Lady Bears won without their typical big game from point guard Niya Johnson, the national leader in assists. Johnson came in averaging more than 10 per game but had just one on Sunday. That one made her the Big 12 career leader with 845
Texas: Imani Boyette, the Big 12 player of the week the last two weeks, had 15 points and 17 rebounds, her fifth double-double in six league games.
Baylor made 24 of 25 free throw attempts. Jones and Davis both went 8-of-8. Mulkey chalked up it to a new practice regimen: “I decided to stop doing a free throw drill. We need to get to the foul line more.”
Baylor plays at Iowa State on Jan. 23
Texas hosts No. 14 Oklahoma on Jan. 23