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Texas beats Baylor for first time since 2017 to win Big 12 Championship

Rori Harmon was sensational, scoring 20 points on 80 percent shooting to help beat the Lady Bears.

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big 12 Conference Tournament Championship-Baylor vs Texas Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Texas came out victorious in Sunday afternoon’s Big 12 Championship, winning 67-58 and beating Baylor (27-6, 15-3 in the Big 12) for the first time since 2017. The Longhorns were led by Rori Harmon’s 20 points and a surprise performance by freshman Aaliyah Moore, who scored a career-high 12 points off the bench.

Despite the double-digit victory, the game was tight to start. With so many back-to-back games and an intense familiarity between these rival teams, the first quarter was a mix of physicality and poor shooting. It wasn’t until the second quarter that Texas (26-6, 13-5 Big 12) started pulling away.

The Lady Bears continued struggling offensively, shooting 40 percent from the field and failing to get the ball into the post to NaLyssa Smith. Smith took matters into her own hands midway through the second, grabbing a rebound and going coast to coast. Unfortunately, the possession ended in a charge and a minor injury to Smith, who missed the rest of the first half before returning in the second. The Longhorns took advantage of her absence and led by eleven at the half, never looking back.

Baylor has a championship pedigree and didn’t back down despite the deficit. Smith returned and gave a championship performance, scoring 21 and grabbing ten rebounds, leading the team in both categories. The Lady Bears got the game as close as seven points in the fourth quarter.

Texas deserves all the credit for holding on and winning the Big 12 Tournament. The Longhorns responded to every fourth-quarter run Baylor attempted. When they needed a big shot, they got one; when a defensive board would stop a possession, they grabbed it, and late in the game, they didn’t have any unforced turnovers and hit their free throws.

The victory was glorious for the Longhorns. They met at the half-court with Texas-colored confetti, tears in their eyes, and talk of Texas fight during their postgame interviews. The celebration will be short-lived, with today being Selection Sunday and the NCAA tournament starting later this week.

For Baylor, this was a disappointing loss but by no means the end of the road. The Lady Bears may very well still be a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and will have just good a chance as anybody to win the NCAA title this April.