Obviously motivated by Saturday’s streak-breaking loss to Iowa State, the ninth-ranked Baylor Lady Bears got a little bit of their swagger back Wednesday night at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Sparked by an extended 15-0 run at the end of the second quarter and first five minutes of the third period, Baylor (9-2, 4-1) got a combined 49 points from Moon Ursin,
NaLyssa Smith and DiDi Richards in cruising to a 77-58 roadvictory over Oklahoma State.
“This is a game of runs, you’re on the road, you don’t want them to cut into it,” said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who improved to 30-5 against OSU (9-5, 5-3) and 83-20 after a loss. “We want to grow, get better as a team and extend it. So, I thought the way we ended the half and the way we started the second half was. very, very positive.”
Looking nothing like the team that lost to Iowa State, 75-71, just five days earlier, snapping a 61-game home winning streak, the Lady Bears dominated the boards, 45-34, forced 19 turnovers and held OSU to its fewest points of the season.
Between them, the veteran trio of Ursin, Smith and Richards played all but five of a possible 120 minutes. Smith recorded her 18th career double-double and fifth of the season with 18 points and 12 rebounds, while Ursin finished twopoints shy of his career high and came within two rebounds of her own double-double with 20 points and eight boards.
“We don’t have a choice, really. That’s just mental toughness, that’s just keep pushing,” Ursin said of playing 37 minutes. “Obviously, we’ve been out for a little bit, and it’s just going to take some time, but we’ll get back there.” Mulkey said it’s only natural to rely on the team’s most experienced players. Playing 38 minutes, Richards was a stat-box stuffer with 11 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
“I thought NaLyssa might have had one of her finest games this year,” Mulkey said. “She let the game come to her. She had a couple turnovers, but settled in and quit doing that. She battled on the boards, she made shots for us in theclutch, she involved her teammates and she didn’t take a break. She played the whole game. I could have kept Moon in there to get her career high (22 points), but the kid was extremely fatigued. She gave you everything she had.”
Up by just six (14-8) after the first quarter, Baylor seemed to be in complete control when Ursin hit a pair of free throws to push the lead to 32-16 with 2:55 left in the first half. But, the Cowgirls’ Natasha Mack, who had a game-high 21points, capped a 7-0 run with a bucket that cut the deficit to 32-23.
The momentum swung back Baylor’s way in the last 30 seconds, though, with Ursin capitalizing on OSU turnovers with a pair of layups that made it 37-23 at the break.
“It’s fun going into the halftime like that. You go in with the momentum and you’re just saying, ‘Let’s keep it up,”’ Ursin said. “Getting off to those breaks, it’s Showtime.”
Ursin had it going in the first half, scoring 16 of her team-high 20 points and hitting 5-of-8 from the floor and all five of her free throws.
“I just think my teammates were finding me,” she said. “I was just taking open shots. We were getting out, running our fast breaks. I think all of that was part of it. I think we did a good job finding each other.”
With Oklahoma State missing its first four shots and turning it over five times in the first four minutes, Baylor scored the first 10 points of the third quarter and extended the lead to 47-23 when Richards fed Queen Egbo for a layup. Egbo added eight points, seven rebounds and two blocks, but was just 3-of-9 from the floor and also had six of Baylor’s 19 turnovers.
“I was pleased that we got post touches,” Mulkey said. “I was not pleased that we were just not finishing layups. But more important than not finishing layups – that’s part of basketball – 11 of our 19 turnovers are by post players. You can’t beat good teams if that happens, because we’re going to come to you. That’s who we are. Baylor’s going to have post touches. We’ve got to quit turning the basketball over.”
Oklahoma State dropped its third in a row after a 5-0 start in Big 12 play and lost its 10
the straight against Baylor. As they have all year, the Cowgirls got most of their scoring from the inside-out duo of Mack and Ja’mee Asberry, whoscored 28 of their 38 points in the second half.
“You know they’re going to put up the most shots,” Mulkey said of Mack and Asberry. “But, Mack was 9-of-22 and Asberry was 5-of-16. I’ll take that any day.”