Bear of an opponent
Texas Tech will get a third stab at No. 1 Baylor this season in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament on Thursday.
The Lady Raiders have played Baylor closer than any team in the conference and the country, losing by eight and five points during the regular season.
The Lady Bears (31-0), who are averaging a roughly 30-point margin of victory, have only won five games by less than 10 points. Their close wins came against No. 4 Connecticut, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 22 Texas A&M and twice against Tech.
“The most important thing you have to do against those guys is you can’t go get a stop and not go down and score,” Tech coach Kristy Curry said. “You’ve got to make sure that you find ways to score and make plays.”
Tech led Baylor 35-30 at halftime in Waco earlier this season but scored only 16 points in the second half.
“At this point, it doesn’t really matter to us who we play because we’re just thankful for another day,” Curry said. “We’re playing to stay alive at this point.”
Texas post players Ashley Gayle and Cokie Reed struggled during Wednesday’s loss to Texas Tech.
The two combined for just 12 points on 4 of 17 shooting. They missed open looks, particularly near the basket, and didn’t relieve any of the pressure on the Longhorns’ guards, who also struggled.
Texas had 14 offensive rebounds in the first half but scored only three second-chance points.
“They missed a lot of shots,” Curry said. “It was cold. They’re so physical and big in size, it’s definitely a matchup problem for us at the four spot.
“Again, I thought the combination of Shauntal (Nobles) and Kierra (Mallard) was a big boost for us. I thought (Jordan) Barncastle tried to hold her own.”
On the bubble
Texas entered Wednesday’s opening round of the Big 12 tournament on a three-game winning streak, having beaten Oklahoma, Missouri and Texas A&M in the final two weeks of the regular season.
The hot stretch likely moved the Longhorns into the NCAA tournament field, but the big loss to Tech could hamper their chances.
Texas is 18-13 overall and went 8-10 in the Big 12.
“I’m just hopeful that they don’t base our entire body of work on this one game,” Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said. “The fact that we beat A&M twice is just a consistent team. We finished strong, but this was a tough way to lose.”
Tech coach Kristy Curry said Texas deserves to be in the field.
“One loss shouldn’t define your season,” Curry said. “In tournament time, anything can happen. It’s happening across the country.”
Compiled by David Just