AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Baylor has won a lot of games on Texas’ home court and even clinched a league title there. Monday night looked like the No. 1 Lady Bears were rolling to another easy one until they had to fight for it all the way to the end.
Moon Ursin scored 20 points off the bench and Baylor survived a furious fourth-quarter rally by No. 14 Texas to get a tough 74-68 win that puts a huge gap between the Lady Bears and the rest of the league in their chase for a ninth consecutive Big 12 championship.
“You’re never going to see panic in us,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.
Baylor was certainly tested like they’ve rarely been this season.
The Lady Bears were in control and leading 61-42 to start the fourth quarter before the Longhorns stormed back with a 20-6 run that cut the lead to five. Danni Williams made two 3-pointers and a layup off a mid-court steal in an eight-point burst.
Baylor finally put the game away until Chloe Jackson’s two free throws with 8 seconds left.
“They played a lot harder, made more shots, pressed kamakazi-style and we didn’t handle it very well,” Mulkey said. “When you are behind like that you can play like that. I went to the stall too early.”
Kalani Brown scored 13 of her 15 in the second half for Baylor (20-1, 10-0 Big 12). Lauren Cox had 10 points and 14 rebounds.
Sug Sutton and Williams each scored 19 for Texas (18-5, 8-3).
“The fourth quarter showed how much heart we have. Nobody gave up,” Sutton said. “That’s a big step for us.”
Baylor has won 19 of the last 20 matchups with Texas, and hasn’t lost in Austin since 2010. The Lady Bears also notched their 32nd consecutive Big 12 regular season road win. This latest one gives Baylor a three-game lead in the Big 12 with eight games to play.
Baylor clinched the title in Austin last season when the Lady Bears left the stadium wearing green and gold championship caps.
“I think we’re hungry every year. That’s the standard we set in this program,” Mulkey said.
Baylor: Brown, who has dominated Texas in the post in the past, found tough going in the first half while facing double- and triple-team defenders under the basket. She didn’t take a shot in the first half, but was in the third quarter when Baylor made her the first option on offense.
Texas: The Longhorns hit a barrage of 3-pointers early that kept Texas in the game in the first half. They made 7 of 10 in the first two quarters but just 4 of 17 shots inside the arc. Sutton’s fourth 3-pointer of the half came over two defenders as time expired. Williams’ two 3-pointers the fourth quarter were the only ones Texas made in the second half.
Ursin averages just 3.3 points over her career and has had to fight for rare minutes on the court. Now she’s emerging as yet another sharpshooter in Baylor’s arsenal. She scored 12 points in a romp against Texas Tech before posting her career-high against the Longhorns.
A sturdy package of speed and strength with a shooter’s touch, she also drew the defensive assignment of guarding Sutton, Texas’ quickest guard.
“She hits big shots. She guards people. Look at her body. Some of you guys in this room go to trainers and you’d love to have a body like that,” Mulkey said.
BATTLE UNDER THE BOARDS
The matchup of the two best rebounding teams in the Big 12 was one-sided. Baylor dominated the rebounding 41-28 with Brown and Lauren Cox combining for 20. Texas had only four offensive rebounds and scored just four second-chance points.
“We got exposed there,” Aston said. “That’s not us. We have to be better there.”
Baylor hosts TCU on Saturday
Texas plays at Kansas on Saturday