Feb. 28, 2009
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AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- It was a scream Baylor players have heard before. It was one they hoped they would never hear again.
But they did. And when junior forward Danielle Wilson cried out and crumpled in heap under the basket, the sxith-ranked Lady Bears just knew it was going to be bad news.
"It was a tough day," was how Baylor coach Kim Mulkey described a hard-fought 66-57 win over No. 16 Texas on Saturday.
There was really no other way to put it after watching Wilson, Baylor's leading scorer and rebounder this season, favoring her left leg as she was carried off the court late in the first half.
Although Wilson will be evaluated Monday, Mulkey assumed the worst, suggesting her star player is lost for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"I've been around long enough to know if kids aren't hurt, they usually get up," Mulkey said. "I am emotional. Two years in a row now we've lost a key cog in our team to knee injuries."
Sitting just a few feet away from her was Baylor senior guard Jhasmin Player, who tore the ACL in her left knee last season. She too, predicted the worst.
"We know the yell. We know the scream," Player said. "I remember being on those same crutches. I know that same scream."
Baylor (23-4, 11-3 Big 12) found several ways to make up for Wilson's absence. Player scored a game-high 21 points and guard Melissa Jones snagged a career-high 15 rebounds. Jessica Morrow scored 13 points and played a key role in shutting down Texas' best offensive player Brittainey Raven, who managed just 6 points after scoring a career-high 31 in the previous game.
"I think if anybody describes the Baylor program to you, I think some of the words they'll use are fighters, intensity, defense. aggressivness. That's all we know how to do," Mulkey said. The win snapped a three-game losing streak to the Longhorns.
Ashley Lindsey had 16 points and 16 rebounds for Texas (20-8, 8-6), which dropped its third loss in four games.
"I thought they rallied when Wilson went down," Texas coach Gail Goestenkors said.
Baylor led 31-22 when Wilson went down. The play kept going as Texas' Kristen Nash converted a layup on the other end before play stopped for several minutes until Wilson was helped into the Baylor lockerroom.
"I haven't seen the replay, I don't know if she got undercut, I don't know what happened. It doesn't matter," Mulkey said.
After Wilson left, Baylor closed the half with a 7-0 run, capped by Player's jumper at the buzzer, that pushed the lead to 38-25.
Even without Wilson, Baylor still outrebounded Texas 48-42 but struggled to score in the post for long stretches. The Longhorns whittled the lead to 53-50 when Ashleigh Fontenette hit a 3-pointer with five minutes to play.
Fontenette came up with another big play when she poked the ball away from Kelli Griffin, got a long pass from Carla Cortijo, and cruised in for the layup that got Texas with 55-52 with 2:30 left.
Morrow, who didn't score a point in the first half, hit a jumper on Baylor's next possession, then grabbed a long rebound off Fontenette missed 3-pointer. A pass underneath from Morrow to Player led to another Baylor layup and a seven-point lead.
Cortijo hit a 3-pointer and a Baylor turnover gave Texas a chance to again cut the lead to three. But Lindsey missed a short baseline jumper and Jones grabbed her 15th rebound.
"She's not bigger than us, stronger than us, faster and doesn't jump as well, but she went in and wanted the ball," Goestenkors said of Jones.
Texas tried to trap Griffin in the backcourt but was forced to foul. After Griffin made the first free throw, Morghan Medlock snagged a long rebound after a miss and got it to Morrow who was fouled. Morrow made one of two to push the lead to 61-55.
Player made another free throw, then grabbed a rebound on Raven's miss with 12 seconds left to seal the win. Baylor went 21-for-26 from the line compared to 13-of-22 by Texas.
Goestenkors said she was bothered by Wilson's injury.
"Anytime a player goes down, your heart sinks," Goestenkors said.