Big 12

Efficient Baylor women overpower Texas to claim fifth straight Big 12 tournament title

Baylor forward Nina Davis, center, the tournament’s most outstanding player, was too much for Kelsey Lang, left, Ariel Atkins and Texas to handle in the title game.
Baylor forward Nina Davis, center, the tournament’s most outstanding player, was too much for Kelsey Lang, left, Ariel Atkins and Texas to handle in the title game. AP

Heading into Monday’s Big 12 women’s championship, No. 1-seeded Baylor had been efficient from the field at a 45.8 percent shooting clip in its two tournament games.

Texas knew it had to be pretty close to perfect offensively to keep pace.

“I think we definitely just needed to answer them and we didn’t do that in the second half,” Longhorns junior guard Celina Rodrigo said. “They got one on the run and we just couldn’t answer it on the offensive end.”

Baylor’s efficiency translated into a 75-64 victory Monday at American Airlines Center, marking the fifth consecutive tournament title for the Lady Bears.

Baylor (30-3) opened the game on an offensive tear, hitting 9 of its first 12 shots. They finished shooting 48 percent from the field and a scorching 55.6 percent from 3-point range.

Sophomore Nina Davis, the tournament’s most outstanding player, began 5-of-6 from the field, finishing at 50 percent with a game-high 16 points and 11 rebounds.

But that’s just another day at the office for Davis and the Lady Bears.

“Nobody knows yourself better than you, and we pretty much know each other as a team, so when my teammates are making shots and when they’re on, it doesn’t surprise me that they’re going. We’re just trusting each other, we believe in our talents and we know how far we can go.”

For as good as Davis was throughout the tournament, averaging 25 points in Baylor’s three games, the second half was about the offensive prowess of the rest of the Lady Bears, with Davis posting two points after halftime.

The second half was sophomore guard Alexis Prince’s time to shine. Prince scored 10 points, going 3-for 5 from behind the arc against Texas’ 2-3 zone. She finished with 14 points and six rebounds.

“Just wanted to provide a spark and get off to a better start than I did the start of the game,” Prince said.

The Lady Bears made the most of Texas’ miscues, turning 15 Longhorns turnovers into 25 points.

Baylor outrebounded Texas 38-31 despite being slightly undersized compared with the Longhorns’ two big posts, 6-foot-5 Kelsey Lang and 6-7 Imani McGee-Stafford.

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey praised her team’s effort while making up what it lacked in inches.

With a 20-point lead and a minute left to play, Mulkey was able to pull her starters, who received a standing ovation from the Baylor faithful that dominated the crowd at the AAC.

McGee-Stafford posted a team-high 15 points for Texas (22-10), as well as 10 rebounds.

Mulkey, however, was not pleased that Texas coach Karen Aston didn’t do the same.

“I didn’t like the game ended with them pressing with starters on the floor, but that’s her prerogative and that’s her team to do that,” Mulkey said.

As the buzzer sounded, confetti fell on the Lady Bears yet again _ the second time this season after Baylor claimed the regular-season crown.

The latest achievement has some people around Waco speaking the word dynasty.

“It means we’re pretty good. It means that our name goes in a book,” Mulkey said. “It means that women’s basketball is big-time at Baylor.”

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