Beating a team three times in the same season is a tall task, no matter the sport.
Texas accomplished that feat Saturday night in its win over Kansas. The Longhorns accomplished the task yet again Sunday afternoon with a 67-51 win over No. 22 West Virginia.
The game went Texas’ way from the start. An early 11-0 run gave the Longhorns an eight-point lead in the game’s opening minutes, and they never looked back.
“I was extremely pleased with the way we started the game,” head coach Karen Aston said. “Our team seems to feed positively off of having fast starts and good starts.”
Texas held a 38-23 lead at halftime and led by as many as 25 late in the third quarter. West Virginia would crawl to within 14 with just over two minutes left as Texas endured a fourth quarter scoring drought that lasted nearly eight minutes.
But a long jumper from freshman forward Jordan Hosey put Texas up by 16 with 1:59 left in the game, thwarting any chance at a Mountaineer comeback.
Senior guard Celina Rodrigo led Texas in scoring for the second straight game with 12 points on four-of-five shooting, including two-of-two from beyond the arc.
“When our energy is good, we all feed off that and we play well,” Rodrigo said. “Coach has been mentioning to us we need to play freer and not as tense, so that’s what we’ve been trying to do here lately.”
Rodrigo was one of four Longhorns to score in double figures. Senior center Imani Boyette had ten, and sophomore guards Brooke McCarty and Ariel Atkins added 11 apiece. Boyette bounced back from a four-point performance against Kansas by shooting 50 percent from the floor.
The victory sends No. 8 Texas to the conference championship game against No. 4 Baylor tonight at 8 p.m. Texas fell victim to Baylor twice in the regular season, getting outscored by a combined 39 points in the two matchups.
The conference championship game comes exactly one week after Baylor dismantled Texas by a score of 74-48 in Waco. Aston said that Texas has to do a better job scoring to have a chance this time around.
“You know they’re really good,” Aston said of the Bears. “I think that to be able to beat Baylor, you have to compete for forty minutes.”
Like Texas, Baylor is two-for-two this year when trying to beat a team for the third time in one season. If Baylor beats Texas tonight, it will be three-for-three.
But the only number that matters for Texas is one. The Longhorns have dropped 13 straight games to Baylor, but all the painful memories from past defeats can be erased with one victory.
“Obviously the next step is you want to win a championship,” Aston said. “And to win a championship right now in the Big 12, I mean, that goes through Baylor.”