KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Rori Harmon scored 20 points and No. 7 Texas beat No. 4 Baylor 67-58 on Sunday to win the Big 12 championship.
Harmon, a freshman, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player after failing to be selected first-team all-conference, which Texas coach Vic Schaefer considered a snub.
The game was projected to be a tussle between the front courts, but foul trouble on both sides put a crimp in that plan. Instead, the guards took over.
Texas (26-6) also got 14 points from Joanne Allen-Taylor and 12 from Aaliyah Moore.
Baylor (27-6), which swept the regular-season series by an average of 10 points, was led by Big 12 Player of the Year NaLyssa Smith with 21 points, but she only had seven before the fourth quarter and was still below her season average of 22.3.
Jordan Lewis and Ja’Mee Asberry had 13 points each for Baylor.
Texas coasted through the third quarter, keeping the lead at or near double digits. Baylor got a spark at the end of the third quarter when Asberry hit a long 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Baylor cut the deficit to seven points in the fourth but could get no closer.
Texas was hampered early when forward Deyona Gaston picked up her second foul with 5:46 left in the first quarter trying to guard Smith. The two bigs battled on both ends of the floor in the opening minutes, with Smith grabbing the upper hand.
Smith was not a huge factor in the first quarter statistically, scoring five points and grabbing two rebounds. But she drew three fouls on Longhorns.
The tide changed early in the second quarter when Smith picked up her second foul at the 8:12 mark with the Longhorns up 18-14. She came back in with 5:21 left in the quarter but picked up her third foul a little more than a minute later on the offensive end.
With Baylor’s best player on the bench, Texas built a 39-28 halftime lead. Harmon, who hit a layup at the buzzer, led Texas with 12 points in the half.
Texas: The Longhorns have the size and strength on the inside to throw plenty of fouls at opposing front-line players.
Baylor: Smith can be thrown off her game with a physical style of play.
Both teams await seeding, opponent and location for their NCAA Tournament games, which were to be announced later Sunday.