West Virginia falls short in Big 12 title game

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 11, 2014 at 12:18 am •  Published: March 11, 2014

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Everything seemed to be going West Virginia's way.

Baylor superstar Odyssey Sims was hobbled by a left ankle injury and the Lady Bears' emerging star, Nina Davis, played with foul trouble through much of the Big 12 championship game.

West Virginia didn't take advantage. Sims scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to help No. 9 Baylor defeat No. 7 West Virginia 74-71 Monday night and earn an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament.

"I told the players, remember how this feels because the next time going down the stretch, we've got to execute," West Virginia coach Mike Carey said. "We normally have executed well going down the stretch. Today we just had a couple shots, missed them, and then defensively is where I was really disappointed. We didn't execute and get some stops."

Niya Johnson had a career-high 19 points and made four free throws in the final minute, and Davis added 16 points for the Lady Bears (29-4), who have won 15 of their past 16 games. Davis, a freshman, was named the tournament's most outstanding player.

Bria Holmes scored 24 points and Linda Stepney and Averee Fields each scored 10 for West Virginia (29-4), which had won 12 straight.

"I think tonight we'll feel the loss a little bit, but we just have to learn from it," Fields said. "Our season is not over, and we want to make a good run in the NCAA tournament, so we have to put it behind us. We have to move on from wins and we have to move on from losses. So I think that we'll get back together, get focused in practice, and we'll be ready for the tournament."

The teams shared the regular-season Big 12 title and split their games during the regular season, with each winning on the other's home court. West Virginia slowed Sims, who had scored 48 and 39 points in the regular season games, but the Bears supported her Monday by shooting 48 percent overall.

The lead went back and forth in the final minutes.

Sims made a jumper with 50.4 seconds left to put Baylor up 70-69.

West Virginia misconnected on a post entry pass and turned the ball over. Baylor ran the clock down, forcing West Virginia to foul. Holmes committed her fifth foul by reaching in on Johnson, and Johnson made two free throws.

West Virginia's Stepney made a layup with 5.4 seconds remaining, then West Virginia quickly fouled. Johnson made two more free throws with 4.7 seconds to play to put Baylor up by three. Stepney missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer, and Baylor celebrated.

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