The nets at the Ferrell Center were coming down Saturday regardless of the outcome.
The No. 3-ranked Baylor women entered Saturday’s Big 12 game against TCU with at least a mathematical share of the conference title and could clinch it outright with a win.
The 9,521 Baylor fans in attendance Saturday were treated to the celebration they preferred, thanks to a 91-75 win over TCU, giving the Lady Bears a fifth consecutive regular-season conference title.
Knowing Baylor (26-1, 15-0 Big 12) would have its mind on the postgame prize, TCU coach Raegan Pebley showed her team film of Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals — the 103-100 comeback effort by the Miami Heat after yellow rope began to appear to aid in the celebrations of the 3-2 series-leading San Antonio Spurs.
“I’m just really a believer in visuals,” Pebley said. “It’s hard to achieve what you can’t see. Just that experience with the Game 6 when they pulled out the yellow ropes and the trophy was on the sideline and thought that the Spurs were going to win and the game was over motivated the Heat.”
The pregame motivational tactic made for the most competitive game between the teams since TCU entered the Big 12.
TCU (15-11, 7-8) trailed Baylor 41-20 at the half, marking the smallest halftime deficit TCU held against Baylor since they’ve been Big 12 rivals.
And TCU’s 75 points were the most scored against the Lady Bears this season.
“LeBron [James] had a real good quote,” TCU senior guard Donielle Breaux said about the pregame film. “‘Give it your all and when you felt like you gave your all, keep giving it more.’ I felt like that really stuck for the team. It really made a difference.”
Breaux was inspired by watching her favorite NBA team before the game, finishing with 14 points and two steals.
“I’ve been in a slump offensively and Coach has really talked to me and my teammates and really stood with me and said to not give up and keep fighting,” Breaux said. “I feel like this is a good time for it to come right before the Big 12 Tournament.”
What TCU’s effort couldn’t account for was Baylor’s hot shooting, especially from 3-point range, where the Bears made 6 of 17.
Since TCU and Baylor last met on Jan. 27, Baylor had not made more than three 3-pointers in a game.
“I think the 3-point shooting was a difference for them, and it’s something they haven’t had in the last few games,” Pebley said. “And I think it’s why games have been a little bit harder for them to grind out.”
A 4-for-7 first half for Baylor from 3-point range opened up the paint, resulting in 26 of Baylor’s 44 points in the paint.
The Lady Bears’ 6-foot-2 sophomore forward Khadijiah Cave finished with a career-high 23 points and pulled down five rebounds. Her previous career high of 21 was set against TCU earlier this season.
TCU senior forward Chelsea Prince finished with a team-high 16 points and junior guard Veja Hamilton had a career high with 12 rebounds.
“There’s no moral victories,” Pebley said. “I don’t believe in them. But you as a coach want to see your team win or lose playing within your system, and I felt like we played within our system and they had players that hit more shots.”