Texas Tech Falls To Big 12 Champs Baylor, 79-69|
March 3, 2005
By STEPHEN HAWKINS
WACO, Texas (AP) - Chelsea Whitaker had 16 points and eight assists, many at key times for Baylor, and the seventh-ranked Lady Bears clinched their first Big 12 regular season title outright with a 79-69 win over No. 13 Texas Tech on Thursday night.
Baylor (24-3, 14-2 Big 12) won all 14 home games this season, and stretched its homecourt winning streak to 17 since a loss to Texas Tech late last season.
The Lady Raiders (21-6, 12-4) missed a chance to share their fourth Big 12 title and dropped to the No. 4 seed in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City next week.
Already assured the tournament's top seed, the Lady Bears made sure they didn't have to share their first title with Texas Tech and No. 11 Texas (20-7, 13-3). Baylor led the entire game and shot 62 percent (30-of-54).
When the game ended, confetti and balloons showered from the rafters, and Whitaker stood on the scoring table holding a newspaper proclaiming the Lady Bears "champions." Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson tried to fight back tears as she watched the celebration.
Whitaker made the game's first shot, and the Lady Bears jumped out to a 6-0 lead less than 90 seconds in before a raucous crowd of 10,550 people jammed into the Ferrell Center. It was the largest crowd ever in the 17-year-old arena, for men or women.
Steffanie Blackmon, playing her last game in Waco, had 17 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Bears. Sophia Young had her 37th straight double-figure scoring game with 15 points and 12 rebounds, while Abiola Wabara had 10 points.
Baylor is 122-38 in Mulkey-Robertson's five seasons, the best in the Big 12. The Lady Bears have won 11 in a row overall, with their only losses to No. 1 LSU, in triple overtime at Nebraska and against Texas.
LaToya Davis led Texas Tech with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Cisti Greenwalt and Judith Smith had 14 points each. Greenwalt blocked three shots, pushing her season total to a Big 12 record 93.
When Texas Tech got within 15-12 on Darrice Griffin's 3-pointer midway through the first half, Whitaker sparked a 12-0 run.
Whitaker drove for a layup and then stole a pass that led to Emily Niemann's 3-pointer. After Griffin traveled, Niemann hit another 3-pointer and Whitaker blocked a shot before making another shot.
By the time Whitaker passed to Chameka Scott for a layup less then three minutes after she started the run, the Lady Bears led 27-12.
Tech's best stretch came near the end of the first half when it scored points on eight straight possessions. The Raiders were within 36-33 when Erin Grant threw an inbound pass to Davis for a layup, ending an 8-0 run.
Whitaker, who scored just 10 points in two games since a 20-point second half in a win against Iowa State, drove for a layup just before halftime for a 40-34 lead.
The Lady Raiders got within 42-39 early in the second half, then Baylor scored three straight baskets and its lead dropped below seven points only twice - never closer than five.