OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — No. 5 West Virginia had the ball and the lead in the final 90 seconds of the Big 12 championship only to see its penchant for winning close games unravel.

Of course No. 7 Baylor had a lot to do with that.

Twice West Virginia came up empty on inside touches by Asya Bussie, and on the other end Baylor’s Odyssey Sims sank the go-ahead jumper with 53 seconds left. That carried Baylor to a 74-71 win Monday night and its fourth consecutive conference tournament title.

It also gave Sims and her team a measure of revenge from the painful loss to WVU in Waco eight days earlier, a loss that forced Baylor to share the regular-season championship.

“We’ve got a team full of warriors, and I like it,” said the All-American Sims, whose 19 points were nine below her season average and way off the 43-point pace she set in two regular-season meetings against West Virginia.

Bria Holmes scored 24 points for West Virginia (29-4), which had its 12-game winning streak snapped mere hours after achieving the program’s highest AP ranking ever. In an ebb-and-flow game reminiscent of the previous meeting, the Mountaineers trailed by nine in the opening half before pulling ahead by five with 9:35 left in the game.

At that juncture, it seemed WVU might be on track to win its first conference tournament since 1988. Ultimately, WVU coach Mike Carey thought too many turnovers and too many uncharacteristic defensive lapses foiled his team’s chances.

“We had a one-point lead with a minute left and just didn’t execute,” he said.

When Sims sat out a few minutes with a first-half leg injury, it became a cue for Baylor’s role players to shine. Niya Johnson scored a career-high 19 points and freshman Nina Davis, the tourney MVP, added 16 points.

But with the game on the line and the Bears trailing 70-69, Sims buried a pull-up jumper fro the left wing.

“I knew they weren’t going to let me penetrate and I didn’t want to run over anybody, so I jumped up and made the shot,” she said.

WVU threw the ball away on its next possession trying to work a high-low to Bussie, who made only one field goal in 39 minutes against Baylor’s sagging defense.

“I felt (Bussie) was a little bit tired today, couldn’t move,” Carey said. “They bottled her up.”

Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, twirling a strand of the nets her team cut down Chesapeake Energy Arena, said the defensive effort that held Bussie to 1-of-4 shooting and six points was crucial.

“I challenged our team to hold her under 10 shot attempts and she got four.”

Though Johnson made four straight free throws down the stretch for Baylor (29-4), West Virginia guard Linda Stepney had a slim chance to tie the game in the final 4.3 seconds. She took the inbounds pass on the run, avoided Johnson near halfcourt and launched a lunging 30-footer that clanged off the iron.

“Do you foul there? Or do you take your chances that they’ve got to make a spectacular shot?” asked Mulkey.

Baylor’s philosophy might have been different were Holmes still on the floor for WVU, but the sophomore who was 4-of-6 on 3-point shots had given her fifth foul to put Johnson at the line with 23 seconds left.

Stepney had 10 points, as did Averee Fields, who said West Virginia would gather itself in hopes of making the program’s deepest NCAA tournament run.

“We’ll feel the loss a little bit, but there’s a lot left to play for,” Fields said. “Just like we have to move on from wins, we have to move on from losses.”

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Comments

  • bjhamilton

    Simms and Smart both over rated...Smart nothing but a thug...and up until he had to sit for his actions u can look at ever game and he was acting out.each and everyone.

  • bjhamilton

    I thought this game was just like every other big 12 game, whether it be b/ ball,football whatever...the so called big star, star teams get all the officiated calls their way...At one point Carey was so upset he asked the officials if they where going to let Baylor bench make all the calls and they seemed too.
    In the last minute not only was Bussie fouled but the officials said the ball was off her...even the announcers couldn't agree with that...

  • JimBob

    To go very far in the Big Dance (NCAA) Bussie is going to have to step up her game. She was a non factor last night.

  • jwg66

    I thought we played tired. Too many turnovers and gave up more second shots than normal. Also agree the officiating was really bad. Finally, I did not realize, the wrong ref made the call on Bussie. That is indicative of preconceived thinking and one of the worst traits an official can have. Anyway, what a great season we are having. Will pull for this team all the way!

  • Mark

    Doesn't anyone out there think we got hosed on the foul call on Bussie at the end when we were down 1?

    • Billy

      I thought the same. Simms gets all the favorable calls too. I was surprised that they called the charges on her that they did. Like the other poster said, they do not have the win streak to think about. It is about time to start a new one.

    • mad hatter

      yel, just like the men, we
      ve sure have been cheated out of a lot of games, dating back to 1952, i mean all the refs have it in for wvu, and it just continues on and on... just no respect

    • Col.Klink

      I was a registered basketball official for years even thou we had plenty of chances to win this game two things standout. (1) the call you just mentioned, which should have been a no call and (2) the way the officials allowed Sims to bulldoze over the WVU players with complete disregard, If you noticed the wrong official made that call against Bussie.

  • mad hatter

    congrats to the ladies, and a great , great season,,,,

    sure you will get a low seed, and remember, cream always rises to the top, and when all the shouting is over, you'll be at the top.

  • TW EAGLLE

    I doubt the Muntaineer ladies will have to grind out another 3 grueling games on consecutive days till the next XII championship . . . if they can get past the first set of games , they may go faarrr . . .

  • Dave

    It was a good game right down to the wire. Still very proud and pumped for this team. I think we can win a couple games in the Big one. It's really all about match-ups. Whoever we draw,I'm sure the Lady Mountaineers will give them a fight.

    LET'S GOOOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS !!!!!!

  • Mountaineer Fanatic

    Very proud and looking forward to the big dance. LETS GOOOOO MOUNTAINEERS

  • CaptainQ

    Oh well, not the end of the world. The Lady Mountaineers are going to be a solid seed in the Women's Big Dance.

    If only the MEN'S team could be THIS good....

  • Ike

    This was a shoulda, woulda, coulda game. I hate to lose, but this might turn out to be a good time. These girls will go into the NCAA tourney not worried about a win streak and have a fresh taste of a loss. I'm sure they will be bracketed to where if they advance, they will see Baylor again. NCAA has a way to make conference teams eliminate one another. Proud of this team and wish you luck in the big dance. Go Mounties

  • jay zoom

    they gave it their all came up short but still gave themselves and us to be proud of. On to the ncaa tourney and put on a show we will never forget. LOVE YOU LADIES keep up the faith in yourselves and you will prevail don't give up don't ever give up and you ladies will roll.

  • Independent View

    It's always tough to pull off the hat trick, but you came oh so close!
    Great season girls and you conducted yourselves like ladies and champions!

  • Rick55

    Congratulations to the women hoopsters. The entire Mountaineer Nation is behind you. Now go win a national championship!!! Have fun, work hard, and savor every moment.

  • Aaron

    Congratulations to our Lady mountaineers. While last nights was loss was a heartbreaking, this season continues. On to where the NCAA sends you to begin your quest for the ultimate championship.

    It's a great day to be a Mountaineer!!!