OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Finally, Texas can focus on rival Baylor.
Celina Rodrigo scored 12 points to help No. 6 Texas defeat No. 22 West Virginia 67-51 in a Big 12 women’s tournament semifinal Sunday. The Longhorns will face No. 4 Baylor in the championship game on Monday.
Baylor won both regular-season meetings with Texas, including a 74-48 win last week that cost the Longhorns a share of the conference title. Baylor seeks its sixth straight tournament title, while Texas goes for its first since 2003.
”We’ve talked very much at length about trying to get Texas back to where we belong, and, you know, getting a chance to play a second year in a row for the tournament championship is a step in the right direction for Texas,” coach Karen Aston said. ”I would like to see our kids really compete. I would just have to start with that. We haven’t competed against Baylor for 40 minutes.”
Baylor defeated No. 24 Oklahoma 84-57 in the other semifinal. The Lady Bears have great respect for Texas.
”Texas, they have a lot of depth, guard depth, and when they get on a roll shooting threes, they’re as good as anybody you’ll face,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. ”I think they’re young and they have had success in trying to take their program in a different direction than it has been. They’ve been rewarded for it, they’re nationally ranked now and, you know, fought hard for the Big 12 (regular season) championship.”
Brooke McCarty and Ariel Atkins each scored 11 points and Imani Boyette added 10 for Texas (28-3), which shot 48 percent from the field.
Jessica Morton scored 13 points and Teana Muldrow added 12 for West Virginia (24-9), which had won four straight.
Bria Holmes, West Virginia’s leading scorer at 16.7 points per game, finished with eight points on 3-for-12 shooting.
West Virginia shot just 34 percent from the field and made just 3 of 23 3-point attempts.
Texas led 38-23 at halftime after leading by as many as 17 points. The Longhorns shot 52 percent from the field in the first half, including 4 of 9 from 3-point range. West Virginia shot just 31 percent in the first half and committed 10 turnovers.
The Longhorns continued their domination in the third quarter, outscoring the Mountaineers 21-13 to go up 59-36.
West Virginia coach Mike Carey said his team competed for about 5 minutes in the second half.
”It’s just disappointing tonight,” he said. ”I just thought we would come out and compete better. We have eight freshmen, 11 new players out of 14 on this squad coming into this year, so I’m proud of the team. I just wasn’t proud of the effort tonight.”
West Virginia shot below 45 percent in all four quarters. … Texas had just nine assists on its 25 field goals.
Aston, on how the game could affect a run at a possible No. 1 seed: ”I don’t know that either one of us are going to change our seeds with what happens tomorrow night, so it should be a fun game, should be competitive. Our players should have fun and enjoy the moment.”
West Virginia: Mountaineers starters made 5 of 16 field goal attempts in the first half. … Holmes, the conference’s active scoring leader, has 1,954 points in her career. … West Virginia outrebounded Texas 39-30.
Texas: The Longhorns took a 6-5 lead in the series. … They improved to 6-3 against ranked teams this season. … Texas forced 22 turnovers. … Texas has held West Virginia to its two lowest scoring games of the season.
West Virginia: expected to get an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Texas: Baylor in Big 12 championship game Monday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.