March 13, 2022
Texas hooks the 2022 Big 12 title
Texas defeats Baylor 67-58 to capture the 2022 Big 12 Tournament title
A few hours before the NCAA Tournament bracket selection is complete, there was one final test to be passed on Sunday, March 13, in downtown Kansas City. Some might even say this game had an old-school SWAC feeling to it. Round three of Baylor and Texas had great highlights and performances that you only get in March. When the confetti settled on the Municipal Auditorium court, Baylor could not beat Texas for the third time this season. The Longhorns captured the 2022 Big 12 Tournament title with a 67-58 win.
The Lady Bears were making their tenth straight appearance in the Big 12 Championship game, winning nine of the last ten. It took an overtime win over Iowa State for Texas to make their first finals appearance since 2018. It was also the first time in the championship game for both head coaches, Nicki Collen, in her first year at Baylor and Vic Schaefer in year two on the Forty Acres.
After a back and forth first quarter, the second proved to have all the action and then some. Baylor’s all-American NaLyssa Smith went hard to the rim with two fouls and just five points and was called for her third on a gutsy charge taken by Texas freshman guard Rori Harmon. The collision in the lane sent both players to the floor and Smith limped off to the Baylor locker room. Texas brought their hard-nosed defense to the title game from the tip, causing eight Lady Bear turnovers and scoring 12 of their 39 first-half points off them.
The turnovers caused by Texas (16 for the game) were from every spot on the floor – in the full court, on entry passes, quick hands in the lane on penetration, taking charges and swiping at posts who brought the ball down. Baylor never looked comfortable, including getting sped up and out of sync and it paid dividends for Texas.
“Holding that team to 58 points is a special effort,” Texas’ Schaefer said in the post-game press conference.
With energy and constant pressure out front on the Baylor guards, Texas could be physical with Smith in the half-court. They forced her off the block and challenged her at the rim. The Big 12 Player of the Year did not hit double figures in scoring until the 6:32 mark of the fourth quarter. Texas’ Lauren Ebo, DeYona Gaston and Aaliyah Moore off the bench were key in keeping Smith controlling the paint. She finished the game with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Harmon may be new to their radars for those who have not watched a lot of Big 12 basketball this year. This week’s performance in Kansas City is consistent with her sensational freshman campaign. She dropped 30 points on Iowa State in 45 minutes of action, including no turnovers, and was the all-conference quarterback out front that you need in a championship game. With Harmon running the point, guards Joanne Allen-Taylor, Shay Holle and Aliyah Matharu could play off the ball for the Longhorns, getting to the rim on penetration and spotting up for big perimeter shots. Allen-Taylor finished with 14 points in 40 minutes.
“I feel everything right now. I am blessed to be up here. I am blessed to play with these girls and to have Coach have so much trust in me. It’s been really hard, and this win means everything,” an emotional Allen-Taylor said in the post-game press conference.
Harmon was deservedly named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2022 Big 12 Tournament, finishing today with 20 points, 5 assists and no turnovers in 40 minutes. Texas is now 2-5 in the Big 12 title game, and this is the first for the program since 2003.
“I could not be more proud of my team. We came here to win a championship and you saw today some determined players and some young ladies that would not be denied,” Shaefer said from the podium, with the championship nets sitting in front of him.
“That game today was won in August and September on the track – I believe that.”
Last season, the Longhorns peaked at the right time in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Elite 8. If this week is any indication, Texas is ready for the madness of March.
Written by Missy Heidrick
I am a former shooting guard at Kansas State and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!