- Associated Press - Saturday, March 13, 2021

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - NaLyssa Smith had 21 points and 14 rebounds, Queen Egbo added 10 points and 18 rebounds, and No. 6 Baylor held off Texas 66-55 in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals on Saturday.

After trailing by 14 in the fourth quarter, the Longhorns (18-9) got within five but couldn’t get any closer after Smith drilled a 3-pointer in the closing minute.

“We were much better down the stretch than we were last time we played them,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We did enough things to keep it away from where they thought they could win.”

Moon Ursin scored 19 and Dijonai Harrington had 14 as Baylor (24-2) will play in its ninth straight Big 12 Tournament final on Sunday against either Oklahoma State or West Virginia.

“Today I was just knocking down shots, but our bigs did a great job with screens,” Ursin said. “I was just confident in my shot.”



Joanne Allen-Taylor led the Longhorns with 22 points and Celeste Taylor had 18.

The Lady Bears were too much in the paint for Texas, outrebounding the Longhorns 51-29, 22 on the offensive glass. Baylor also scored 36 in the paint and had 28 second-chance points.

“Rebounding and defending will win you a lot of games, along with second-chance points,” Mulkey said. “They are physical and there were spurts we didn’t execute very well.”

Texas center Charli Collier, a projected top pick in this year’s WNBA draft, played just two minutes in the first quarter after being called for two early fouls. She averaged over 20 points per game this season but averaged fewer than six in three games against Baylor.

“I think it’s a combination of things, but you have to give Baylor credit,” Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. “Smith is so energetic and plays really hard. I think they get up for it and pay a lot of attention to her.”

The Lady Bears held a 37-30 lead at the half despite Collier playing just a couple of minutes.

Baylor will try and win its third straight Big 12 Tournament on Sunday against one of the two teams that finished behind the Lady Bears.

“West Virginia will play us physical, and Oklahoma State will mix it up defensively,” Mulkey said. “Tomorrow is basically a true indicator of the champion of the league versus the second-place finisher in the league.”

BIG PICTURE

Texas: Losing Collier in the first half seemed important, but the Longhorns stayed close. The lack of a post presence ended up costing the Longhorns down the stretch.

Baylor: After missing 15 3-pointers on Friday, the Lady Bears shot just four. Mulkey said they don’t need to shoot a bunch of 3s to win games.

UP NEXT

Texas awaits its NCAA Tournament seeding.

___

More AP college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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