BU's Alexis Jones scores 29
Posted January 17th, 2016
Spurred on by one of the largest home crowds of the Karen Aston Era, Texas fell short of matching the energy inside the Erwin Center.
Baylor, which seemed to feed off the buzz of 8,996 fans, showed why the Big 12 championship still runs through Waco. Led by juniors Alexis Jones and Nina Davis, the sixth-ranked Lady Bears defeated No. 4 Texas 80-67 Sunday afternoon.
Baylor spoiled the buildup to one of the most anticipated games of the season. The Lady Bears pinned the Longhorns with their first loss of the season before the largest crowd since 2013 (also against Baylor).
“The biggest difference is there was more burnt orange in the stands, and that feels great,” said senior Imani Boyette, who combined 15 points with a team-high 17 rebounds. “I wish we could get that everyday and didn’t have to beg for it.”
The game’s most outstanding player was Jones, a Duke transfer who scored a career-high 29 points. A former All-State first-team high school player from Irving MacArthur she canned 10 of her 19 shots from the field and all eight of her free throws.
“That’s the Alexis Jones we saw in high school,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I don’t know if she was more motivated because it was Texas or because it was the state championship floor where she won her state championship.”
Baylor (18-1, 5-1 in Big 12) also received 24 points by Davis, a 2015 All-American.
Texas coach Karen Aston said one loss won’t define her team’s season. Next Saturday’s home game against Oklahoma on Texas Exes Weekend will be just as important as Sunday’s loss to Baylor.
Nevertheless, the loss to Baylor was a lost opportunity. It marked UT’s 12 straight loss to their conference rival.
“We just didn’t play like we’ve been playing all year long,” she said. “Obviously I have to give them credit for challenging us in a way we hadn’t challenged before. And we did some uncharacteristic things”
Texas was whistled for a season-high 26 personal fouls, and Baylor took advantage by hitting 24 of 25 from the the line. The Horns also were sloppy on offense, committing 21 turnovers that led to 24 Baylor points.
The Longhorns, though, made a late charge. Trailing by as many as 19 points in the third quarter, the Longhorns rallied behind Boyette and sophomore guard Brooke McCarty. McCarty hit a pair of three-pointers, Celina Rodrigo hit a trey, and a short hook by Boyette with 1:50 to play trimmed the deficit to 70-64.
Jones, though, ended that rally with an 18-footer near the back of the key with 1:22 to play to seal it.
McCarty led all Longhorns with 16 points, hitting 4 of her 5 shots behind the three-point line. Guards Empress Davenport and Lashann Higgs scored 9 points apiece to help bring Texas back.
Texas used a different starting lineup because forward Brianna Taylor did not play. Aston said it was a “coach’s decision” to keep her out.
Texas got off to a customary hot start, gaining a 16-9 edge in the first quarter on a driving layup by Higgs.
Baylor, though, took over from there. The Lady Bears outscored the Longhorns 32-13 for the rest of the half to take a 41-29 lead at the break.
Jones tortured in the paint and with mid-range jumpers. She scored 16 points in the first half on 7-for-13 shooting.
Aston addressed the crowd while on the court following the game, praising the fans for their energy level. She described the crowd as “phenomenal” and added she hasn’t seen “that much electricity in the Erwin Center for a women’s game in 10 years.”
Texas returns to Big 12 action against TCU Wednesday night in Fort Worth.