No. 6 Baylor women end regular season 75-65 over Texas Tech
Mar. 03, 2015
WACO, Texas (AP) — Nina, Niya and league champion Baylor are going to the Big 12 tournament back on the winning track.
Nina Davis scored 22 points, Niya Johnson broke the Big 12 single-season record for assists as the No. 6 Lady Bears rebounded from consecutive losses, beating Texas Tech 75-65 in the regular-season finale Monday night.
"It was just very important as far as our confidence," Davis said.
Kristy Wallace added 14 points for the Lady Bears (27-3, 16-2 Big 12), who were coming off losses at Oklahoma and Iowa State since clinching their fifth Big 12 title in a row with their 25th consecutive win in their last home game Feb. 21. Alexis Prince and Imani Wright each had 12 points.
Johnson, who came in the national leader with 8.7 assists per game, had 12 to push her season total to 255. The junior guard broke her school record of 244 set last year, and soon after halftime surpassed the league record 250 that Angel Goodrich set at Kansas three years ago.
"I can't get those assists without my teammates making the baskets," Johnson said. "I appreciate them putting the ball in the hoop."
Davis, the Big 12 scoring leader, and coach Kim Mulkey, a former championship point guard, were a little more emphatic about what Johnson does for Baylor.
"We go as Niya Johnson goes. Nina gets a lot of the attention defensively, but Niya basically is the engine," Mulkey said.
"Her high basketball IQ s amazing, her ability to see the court," Davis said. "We're not even sure that she see us, but she finds a way to thread the needle. She's just a great point guard, and I'm glad she's ours."
Amber Battle had 23 points for Texas Tech (15-15, 5-13), which takes a five-game losing streak its Big 12 tournament opener Friday in Dallas. Kelsi Baker had 13 points.
Baylor, the No. 1 seed while going for its fifth consecutive Big 12 tournament title, had as much as a 27-point lead before the Lady Raiders had a 16-1 run. The closest they got was 67-60 on two free throws by Battle with 3:29 left.
After consecutive losses to unranked opponents for the first time in Mulkey's 15 seasons, the Lady Bears scored the game's first five points and never trailed. They had their first double-digit lead after scoring eight points in a 25-second span off three Tech turnovers.
Wallace stole an inbound pass for a quick layup with 13:31 left in the first half, then Davis immediately duplicated that for a layup of her own 5 seconds later while being fouled. Johnson had a steal and an assist for Davis for another three-point play that made it 18-4 with 13:06 left.
"I didn't like our execution at all in the first half. I thought we were really timid" Tech coach Candi Whitaker said. "When we went to the rim, we looked like we were looking for someone to block our shot instead of going and finishing it."
PRESSING WITH DIFFERENT LINEUP
Baylor opened in a full-court press and a different starting lineup, including junior Chardonae Fuqua's first career start and freshman Wallace starting for the first time since Jan. 17. "I just thought we needed to rest some players, I thought we needed more energy," Mulkey said. "We needed to press, and that's a good lineup to press with. ... Just shake it up mainly to get out of the monotony of getting off to slow starts, and I thought they really did good. I thought we were fine until the second half, and everybody got complacent."
Sune Agbuke, Baylor's only senior player, was recognized at halftime. The 6-foot-4 post player from San Antonio made her 54th career start, and her 18 starts this season have been in all the Big 12 games. Agbuke got her undergraduate degree in three years, and is now in her fourth quarter of study at Baylor Law School. The rest of the Lady Bears roster includes three juniors, five sophomores and three freshmen.
Texas Tech: The Lady Raiders led the overall series 47-34, but have lost 19 of the last 20 meetings, including 11 in a row at Waco.
Baylor: The Lady Bears outscored Texas Tech 38-12 in the paint. On the season, Baylor has outscored opponents 1,284 to 626 inside. .... Baylor has won 19 consecutive home games.
Texas Tech plays Friday in the first round of the Big 12 tournament.
Top-seeded Baylor plays Saturday at the Big 12 tournament.