DALLAS (AP) Nina Davis made another strong move to the basket, converting the layup while being fouled. The Big 12 player of the year made the free throw and then went to the bench for good.
Davis had done her part for No. 6 Baylor in the Big 12 Conference tournament semifinal game, scoring 29 points in 25 minutes and the Lady Bears advanced to play for their fifth consecutive tournament title after beating Oklahoma State 69-52 on Sunday.
”It means a lot, it’s amazing the dynasty they have built here, the tradition they have,” Davis said. ”Don’t want to be the team to end it.”
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Alexis Prince added 12 points and Niya Johnson 10 for the Lady Bears (29-3), the Big 12 regular-season champion for the fifth year in a row. They have won 14 consecutive conference tournament games.
”I know they’re as competitive as the other teams,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said of her squad that has only one senior. ”They may not be as experienced and certainly they’re not as mature and they’re not older. … They made it this far, let’s go win it.”
Baylor plays Monday night against Texas, which beat Oklahoma 59-46 in the other semifinal Sunday.
Roshunda Johnson had 16 points while Brittney Martin had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Oklahoma State (20-11), which lost to Baylor in a Big 12 semifinal for the third year in a row.
Davis, an undersized post at 5-foot-11, was picked by coaches as the top player after her Big 12-best 20.7 points a game during the regular season. She then scored 30 points as the Lady Bears beat Kansas State in their first Big 12 tournament opener Saturday.
”Nina Davis is a very, very tough matchup for us and she shows why she’s the best player in the league,” Cowgirls coach Jim Littell said. ”Just outstanding the things that she can do athletically set her apart from a lot of people.”
With a third game in three days upcoming, Davis was done after that last highlight play with 13:39 left that put Baylor up 59-32. She made 12 of 17 shots.
Johnson, the point guard and national assists leader, joined Davis on the bench less than a minute later.
The Lady Bears led by 31 points with 11:38 left before all their starters were out of the game.
”That will help a lot,” Davis said. ”Any type of rest that you can get is always great.”
That was much different than Saturday, when the Lady Bears had a 24-point lead in the second half that got cut to six before they pulled out an 80-72 win over K-State. Five days before that, their 27-point lead dwindled to seven before beating Texas Tech in their regular-season finale.
”It was very important for us to get off to a good start,” Davis said. ”I’m just proud of the way that we kept the lead this time, we didn’t let them come back in.”
Oklahoma St.: LaShawn Jones had 11 points for the Cowgirls. She scored their first eight points of the game, including a breakaway layup on their first shot to lead for the only time. She added a three-point play to start their second-half scoring. … Liz Donohoe played in her 132rd career game.
Baylor: The Lady Bears are in the Big 12 tournament championship game for the ninth time. They have won six, and their only two losses were to top-seeded Oklahoma in 2002 and 2006. … Their last tournament loss was in a second-round game against Oklahoma in 2010. … Davis had seven points in a 72-second span, the last when she had a strong putback after rebounding her own miss to make it 53-28 with 15:32 left.
THE LONG WAIT
Littell believes the Cowgirls have done enough to make their third consecutive NCAA tournament. But they won’t know for sure until the tournament field is announced March 16. ”Oh yeah, there’s anxiety involved in that,” he said. The coach quickly pointed out though that every year he has been in the league that 9-9 conference marks have been good enough for an NCAA berth. Plus, the Big 12 is No. 1 in conference RPI.
Davis had 17 points by halftime and Prince 17, giving Baylor two double-figure scorers by halftime for the first time since Jan. 17 at Kansas.
Oklahoma State: awaits possible at-large bid to NCAA Tournament.