Balanced scoring leads No. 7 Texas past West Virginia
By CLIFF BRUNT, AP Sports Writer
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Texas left West Virginia with no chance an upset this time.
Jatarie White scored 11 points to help No. 7 Texas beat West Virginia 68-55 in a Big 12 semifinal on Sunday.
Last year, No. 6 seed West Virginia stunned No. 2 seed Texas in the semifinals. This time, Texas took charge from the start, running out to a 24-12 lead at the end of the first quarter and remaining in control. Texas shot just 40 percent, but the Longhorns held West Virginia to 32 percent shooting.
“Well, it wasn’t the most pleasing to the eye, but I think that’s a reflection of West Virginia really, really playing hard,” Texas coach Karen Aston said.
Texas will play No. 3 Baylor for the title Monday night. Baylor defeated TCU 94-48 earlier Sunday in the other semifinal. Baylor beat Texas for the tournament titles in 2015 and 2016. This season, Lady Bears defeated Texas 81-56 on Jan. 25 at home and 93-87 on Feb. 19 in Austin, Texas.
Baylor features Big 12 Player of the Year Kalani Brown and Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Lauren Cox.
“We will spend tonight looking at the previous game in Austin and try to see if there are some things that we should have and could have done better,” Aston said. “They’re bringing the offensive player of the year and the defensive player of the year, so we have our work cut out for us.”
Naomi Davenport scored 17 points and Kristina King added 12 for West Virginia (21-11), which was the defending tournament champion.
Texas led 42-28 at halftime, and West Virginia became impatient.
“They got behind there and they got in a hurry, and I couldn’t get five people on the same page at that time,” West Virginia coach Mike Carey said.
The Longhorns held the Mountaineers to 4 for 17 shooting to take a 58-40 lead into the fourth.
West Virginia made just 2 of 23 3-pointers overall.
“We could have got a three any time in the shot clock,” Carey said. “But we were taking it early in the shot clock, and like they said, we were hitting the bottom of the rim, which led to layups for them on the other side.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers are on the NCAA Tournament bubble and could have used a win of this caliber. They have an RPI of 61.
“I think they knew this game would sort of be like this because they (West Virginia) were playing with a sense of urgency,” Aston said. “I think they knew this would be a win that would help them as far as getting into the NCAA Tournament. Our team was prepared for that.”
Texas: The Longhorns got the solid win they needed to get their minds right for the matchup with Baylor. They also got the rest they needed — none of their players played more than 26 minutes.
Texas’ bench outscored West Virginia’s 25-0.
“They subbed two or three at a time,” Davenport said. “We subbed one at a time. Our energy died down.”
West Virginia: The Mountaineers wait to see if their season will be extended.
Texas: Will play No. 3 Baylor in the Big 12 title game.