No. 16/18 Women's Basketball falls to No. 6/7 Baylor, 66-57
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- It was a scream Baylor players have heard before. It was one they hoped they would never hear again.
But they did. And when junior forward Danielle Wilson cried out and crumpled in heap under the basket, the sxith-ranked Lady Bears just knew it was going to be bad news.
"It was a tough day," was how Baylor coach Kim Mulkey described a hard-fought 66-57 win over No. 16 Texas on Saturday.
There was really no other way to put it after watching Wilson, Baylor's leading scorer and rebounder this season, sobbing and favoring her left leg as she was carried off the court late in the first half.
Although Wilson will be evaluated Monday, Mulkey assumed the worst, suggesting her star player is lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"I've been around long enough to know if kids aren't hurt, they usually get up," Mulkey said. "I am emotional. Two years in a row now we've lost a key cog in our team to knee injuries."
Sitting just a few feet away from her was Baylor senior guard Jhasmin Player, who tore the ACL in her left knee last season. She too, predicted the worst.
"We know the yell. We know the scream," Player said. "I remember being on those same crutches. I know that same scream."
Baylor (23-4, 11-3 Big 12) found several ways to make up for Wilson's absence. Player scored a game-high 21 points and guard Melissa Jones snagged a career-high 15 rebounds. Jessica Morrow scored 13 points and played a key role in shutting down Texas' best offensive player Brittainey Raven, who managed just 6 points after scoring a career-high 31 in the previous game.
"I think if anybody describes the Baylor program to you, I think some of the words they'll use are fighters, intensity, defense. aggressivness. That's all we know how to do," Mulkey said. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Longhorns.
Ashley Lindsey had 16 points and 16 rebounds for Texas (20-8, 8-6), which dropped its third loss in four games.
"I thought they rallied when Wilson went down," Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said.
Baylor led 31-22 when Wilson went down. The play kept going as Texas' Kristen Nash converted a layup on the other end before play stopped for several minutes until Wilson was helped into the Baylor lockerroom.
"I haven't seen the replay, I don't know if she got undercut, I don't know what happened. It doesn't matter," Mulkey said.
After Wilson left, Baylor closed the half with a 7-0 run, capped by Player's jumper at the buzzer, that pushed the lead to 38-25.
Even without Wilson, Baylor still outrebounded Texas 48-42 but struggled to score in the post for long stretches. The Longhorns whittled the lead to 53-50 when Ashleigh Fontenette hit a 3-pointer with five minutes to play.
Fontenette came up with another big play when she poked the ball away from Kelli Griffin, got a long pass from Carla Cortijo, and cruised in for the layup that got Texas with 55-52 with 2:30 left.
Morrow, who didn't score a point in the first half, hit a jumper on Baylor's next possession, then grabbed a long rebound off Fontenette missed 3-pointer. A pass underneath from Morrow to Player led to another Baylor layup and a seven-point lead.
Cortijo hit a 3-pointer and a Baylor turnover gave Texas a chance to again cut the lead to three. But Lindsey missed a short baseline jumper and Jones grabbed her 15th rebound.
"She's not bigger than us, stronger than us, faster and doesn't jump as well, but she went in and wanted the ball," Goestenkors said of Jones.
Texas tried to trap Griffin in the backcourt but was forced to foul. After Griffin made the first free throw, Morghan Medlock snagged a long rebound after a miss and got it to Morrow who was fouled. Morrow made one of two to push the lead to 61-55.
Player made another free throw, then grabbed a rebound on Raven's miss with 12 seconds left to seal the win. Baylor went 21-for-26 from the line compared to 13-of-22 by Texas.
Goestenkors said she was bothered by Wilson's injury.
"Anytime a player goes down, your heart sinks," Goestenkors said.
On whether she was feeling confident about a victory in the final minutes: I was. I thought we were going to be able to pull it out. But Baylor hit some tough shots and we turned the ball over a couple of times. We got a few good looks but just couldn't put it down. I felt like we were in a pretty good position at that point.
On whether she focused on attacking the post more in the second half: In the second half, we started really trying to get the ball in to Ashley (Lindsey). I thought she did a good job.
On whether the little things factored into the loss: I really do (think so), especially rebounding. I feel like that is so much about heart and soul. It's about wanting the ball more than somebody else does. I pointed out Melissa Jones for them who came off the bench and had double-figure rebounds. I told the team we'll be watching video of her because she's not bigger than us, stronger than us, faster and doesn't jump as well, but she went in and wanted the ball. I think she got eight offensive rebounds. It's very frustrating, especially at home when you don't protect your home court. I felt like they out-hustled us in certain situations and that should never happen.
On the team's low field goal percentage: I think they do a good job defensively. They didn't let Kat (Nash) get any good shots off. Overall, I think they did a good job. I think we missed so many easy shots and layups well.
On comparing this season to the same point last year: It's not the same situation because we were on the bubble for the NCAA tournament. This year, we know we're in the NCAA tournament. However, we want to get a good seed in the Big 12 (tournament) and more than that, we just want to feel good about ourselves going in to postseason. We had two opportunities against great teams, ranked opponents, to really come together a little bit. When we're good, we're very good. Ashley Lindsey is now playing her best basketball, but some of our guards are not playing well. If we ever get our guards and posts together to play a good game, you'll see a fantastic team. We've had some good practices, so it's coming. I just hope it comes pretty soon.
SENIOR FORWARD Ashley Lindsey
On her rebounding performance: We wanted to out-rebound them and they did a great job boxing us out. But I felt that it was a need for me to get in there and rebound.
On the turnovers and unforced errors: At times, we did force the ball and force up shots. When it comes down to a game like this, we just have to have patience and poise, like coach said in the locker room. When it came down to it, people were just missing layups and turning the ball over.
FRESHMAN GUARD Ashleigh Fontenette
On her ability to drive to the basket today: (Coach Goestenkors) kept saying, "Take it to the hole. If they don't stop you just take it all the way."
On the rivalry between Texas and Baylor: They're our rivals. They're right up there on (Interstate) 35. It's not cross-town, but we're 35 rivals. It's going to be a close game every time we play them.
On losing junior post Danielle Wilson to injury: I thought we were at another level when she went down. We were playing good basketball. We extended that lead pretty good. That's what you want to do, you want to be playing good when you get late in the year. It takes you a minute to regroup, and we did. It's a tough day.
On how the team responded after the injury: It's a testament to our program. I think if anybody describes the Baylor program to you, I think some of the words they'll use are fighters, intensity, defense, aggressiveness. That's all we know how to do. We were presented with a challenge, an unexpected challenge. I threw Ashley Field in there, (Morghan Medlock), Rachel (Allison), MJ (Melissa Jones). I didn't put anybody in a position that they weren't comfortable with. (Jones) has played inside for us a lot, and she just responded like a champion.
On the play of Kelli Griffin and Jhasmin Player: I thought Kelli (Griffin) and Jhasmin (Player) set the tone of the game for us. The ball's in their hands 90 percent of the time. They wanted it in their hands. They made plays down the stretch. Kelli Griffin keeps doing this. She's coming into her own to be the point guard we all want her to be and thought she could be.
SENIOR GUARD JHASMIN PLAYER
On senior guard/forward Jessica Morrow: Jessica Morrow was huge. She had three fouls in the first half, and I don't think she scored in the first half. She had 13 in the second half alone, and that's what a senior does.