AUSTIN, Texas – A new coach at Baylor has the Bears producing the same old results against Texas.
That means winning.
NaLyssa Smith scored 28 points and No. 9 Baylor continued its dominant run against No. 13 Texas with a 63-55 win Sunday, the Bears’ second victory over the Longhorns in three days.
Baylor beat Texas 75-63 on Friday night, and the quick rematch was due to the Jan. 9 meeting being rescheduled after Baylor had COVID-19 problems.
The Bears (17-5, 7-3 Big 12) have won 13 in a row over the Longhorns, and 27 of the last 28 meetings in the rivalry.
The consecutive wins are a big boost for first-year coach Nicki Collen, who took over the program from three-time national champion coach Kim Mulkey, who left for LSU this season.
“It’s definitely a lot of pressure,” Collen said. “But I’ve got good players.”
Smith said the Bears were determined to keep the winning streak over Texas alive, even when it looked in doubt with a double-digit deficit early in the second half.
“I feel like we just take pride in it. It’s kind of like a matter of who’s the best team in Texas?” Smith said. “The goal here at Baylor is to beat Texas every year.”
Texas (15-6, 5-5) led by 10 early in the third quarter before the Bears stormed back behind Smith, who played almost the entire fourth quarter with four fouls. Her four consecutive free throws and a sprinting layup from a crosscourt pass put the Bears ahead 59-52 with 1:06 to play. Smith scored 18 in the second half.
“It was a mindset we were not going to lose that game,” Smith said. “I just went for it. I knew I had to play smart.”
The Bears also needed to win to keep alive their chase for a 12th consecutive conference championship. Their three league losses this season already match their total for the previous five seasons, and the Bears are sitting below Iowa State and Oklahoma.
“There’s a lot of people who expect us to be perfect, and we’re not, and I’m not,” Collen said. “But every time we win a close one, the belief keeps growing. Obviously now we need some help with three losses … Every game matters for us.”
Baylor looked unsettled early against a Texas defense that refused to allow penetrating drives or easy entry passes to Smith. After Baylor led 10-3 early, the Longhorns closed the first half with a 23-8 run fueled by a rash of Baylor turnovers, several of them unforced.
Baylor shot just 26% in the first half and Smith was the only Bears player with more than one basket over the first two quarters.
Smith led the Baylor charge in the third. She scored 10 in the quarter and Baylor used a 15-6 run to snatch a 45-43 lead heading into the fourth.
Joanne Allen-Taylor scored 18 points to lead Texas.
Baylor benefitted from two huge plays in the second half. Collen successfully challenged a charging call against Sarah Andrews before a Smith layup. Upon review, Baylor was awarded the basket and the ball in the critical run to erase the big deficit in the third. Ja’Mee Asberry’s desperation 3-pointer to make it 50-50 with 5:01 left in the fourth barely beat the shot clock and Texas never led again.
Baylor: The Bears cleaned up the turnover problems from the first half and found their shooting touch with four 3-pointers in the second half. And they were excellent from the free-throw line, making 17 of 19 attempts.
Texas: The Longhorns lead the Big 12 in scoring defense, turnovers forced and steals per game and had the Bears flummoxed in the first half. But the Longhorns were undone by their own offensive miscues. Twelve turnovers led to 19 Baylor points and the Longhorns shot just 36% on their home court.
“We probably left it in the locker room (at halftime),” Schaefer said. “We got too many people taking too many shots they don’t take in practice. And the stats don’t lie. You’re open for a reason.”
Baylor: The Bears host Kansas State on Wednesday.
Texas: The Longhorns play at Texas Tech on Wednesday.