Oklahoma City, OK -- In the Big 12’s second semi-final game on Sunday, No. 7 Texas (26-5, 15-3) squared off with West Virginia (21-11, 8-10). Texas advanced to the championship of the tournament because of the following observations.
Mountaineers couldn’t keep up
The Longhorns outscored the West Virginia Mountaineers 24-12 in the first quarter alone, setting the tone for a 68-55 victory and a berth in the Big 12 conference finals.
The 24 first period points by Texas tied for the fifth-highest in a Big 12 Championship semifinal game.
Alecia Sutton, who was one of four Longhorns to score in double figures, hit back-to-back three’s at the end of the first quarter, which was a momentum builder for Texas.
“I just know that my role off the bench is to bring energy to this team,” Sutton said. “Whether it’s offense or defense. And I take it seriously to help this team out.”
West Virginia was 0-for-5 behind the arc in the first frame, while shooting .278 from the field. West Virginia’s Naomi Davenport credited the long-range struggle to the intense weekend of back-to-back games.
“I just feel like it was an off day,” Davenport said. “And we didn’t have legs. We kept hitting the front of the rim or the bottom of the net. We were gassed. Just didn’t get our shot up.”
Texas held West Virginia to 8.7 percent (2-of-23) from three-point range, which ranks third among lowest three-point percentage in a Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship semifinal game.
Longhorns’ bench production
The depth of this Texas team and the lack of depth for West Virginia played a dominant role in today’s game. Texas’ bench scored 25 points while the reserves for West Virginia didn’t contribute any points.
Texas had the luxury of subbing in three players at a time to give breathers. West Virginia, on the other hand, who only has eight active players on its roster, in comparison to Texas’ 12. West Virginia’s Davenport said they kept running out of fresh legs.
“We subbed one at a time,” Davenport said. "Our energy just died down. We came out with a lot of energy, but second quarter through the fourth, it showed that we just died down.”
Eleven of the 12 players on the Longhorns’ roster saw minutes in tonight’s game, four of them scored in double figures. Texas Head Coach Karen Aston said their bench was the difference maker in today’s game.
“West Virginia is shorthanded,” Aston said. “You could probably tell that our bench was, I would say the difference in the game because we had more fresh legs. That’s what tournament play is about, so I’m pleased and proud of our team.”
Texas moves on to face Baylor in the championship game
The No. 1 seed and the No. 2 seeds will face each other in the finals of the Women’s Big 12 Championship on Monday night at 8 p.m. CST at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
Texas will make its sixth appearance in a Big 12 title game, taking home its only victory in 2003. Baylor, on the other hand, has won seven of the past eight championship title games. Texas leads the all-time series over Baylor, but Baylor has won 16 of the past 17.
The Baylor verses Texas match-up has happened only two times in a Big 12 title game, and Baylor won both meetings.
Texas Head Coach Karen Aston said they will turn to game footage to help them make corrections for tomorrow’s big game.
“We will spend tonight looking at the previous game in Austin,” Aston said. “And try to see if there are some things that we could have and should have done better.”