OKLAHOMA CITY (AP)—Jhasmin Player scored a season-high 25 points, Morghan Medlock came off the bench to add 15 and No. 7 Baylor beat 10th-ranked Texas A&M 72-63 to win the Big 12 championship Sunday.
Despite losing leading scorer Danielle Wilson to a season-ending knee injury in the final week of the regular season, the Bears (27-5) found a new way to win and claimed their second Big 12 title. The other one came in Baylor’s national championship season in 2005.
Medlock hit her first seven shots and rallied the Bears from an early 10-point deficit, and Texas A&M could never get back ahead.
Takia Starks scored 22 points and Tanisha Smith added 18 points for the former champion Aggies (25-7).
There were questions surrounding Baylor after leading scorer Danielle Wilson went out with a season-ending knee injury against Texas on Feb. 28, but the Bears may have put all of that to rest with their third win this year against the Aggies and their second in eight days.
Player, who had a similar knee injury end her season, scored 19 of her points in the second half and led the way after Texas A&M chipped away to make it close.
After the Aggies got within 60-58 on Starks’ jumper with 4:46 remaining, Player followed Jessica Morrow’s two free throws with a three-point play to keep A&M at bay. She then got wide open for a 3-pointer from the left wing that made it 68-60 with 2:47 left and put the game away.
Player launched the ball off the bottom of the scoreboard hanging from the ceiling as players jumped into each others’ arms to celebrate the championship on the floor underneath. Wilson, who was averaging 15.1 points before she got hurt, gave coach Kim Mulkey a big hug on the sidelines before walking over toward a pile of Bears players on the floor.
With the win, Baylor may have locked up a No. 2 seed—and perhaps picked up an outside chance for a No. 1 seed—and the opportunity to come back to Oklahoma City for an NCAA tournament regional in two weeks.
Morrow, the tournament’s most outstanding player, added 12 points for the second-seeded Bears.
Danielle Gant, playing in her hometown, had 14 points while battling foul trouble for Texas A&M.
Baylor had given up 12 straight points and was trailing 17-7 when Mulkey put Medlock in the game and found an immediate spark.
Medlock scored 11 points in an 18-2 surge by the Bears, much of it coming while Gant was on the bench with two fouls, and Melissa Jones’ 3-pointer from the right wing from the right wing put Baylor up 25-19.
The Bears never trailed again, leading by eight at halftime and pushed their edge to 37-28 when Medlock scored on a left-handed layup at the left block early in the second half.