By Parmida Schahhosseini
With talks of rebuilding surrounding No. 10 Baylor, the Lady Bears played with something prove en route to a 110-55 win over the Grambling State Lady Tigers on Saturday at the Ferrell Center. Baylor’s 55-point victory was the largest margin of victory in a season opener under head coach Kim Mulkey.
The Lady Bears balanced offense had plenty of scorers, but it was senior guard Odyssey Sims who stole the show with her 28-point, four-assist, four-rebound and five-steal performance. Four other Lady Bears scored in double digits with three of the four players coming off the bench, some of which can be attributed to Sims helping draw defenders.
“She [Sims] has to score for us to be successful, but because of the attention she will draw defensively, she’s going to have to pass the ball and make shots easier for other people,” Mulkey said.
Sims’ aggressive play also set the tone defensively. The Lady Tigers had trouble getting anything going offensively especially with Baylor pressuring with the press. The Lady Bears man defense led to 20 first half turnovers for Grambling State, leading to 27 of Baylor’s 56 first half points. The Lady Tigers reduced the number of turnovers in the second half, but finished with 34 turnovers, which resulted in 48 points for Baylor.
Baylor had 14 turnovers, which isn’t bad for a young team. Only three Lady Bears had more than three turnovers, but the Lady Tigers only got nine points from those turnovers because of Baylor’s defense. Sims was active throughout her 23 minutes of play passing the ball frequently, but only turned over the ball once.
“I have to lead by example,” Sims said. “I try my best to take care of the ball. We’re very young and I tell them everyday ‘make sure you take care of the ball and have as few turnovers as possible.’ It’s just leading by example for the younger group.”
Post players graduate student Mariah Chandler and junior Sune Agbuke received most of the touches early in the game taking advantage of the Lady Tiger’s zone defense. The two combined for 16 points leading to a 16-0 run to start the game putting the Lady Tigers in a big hole. Baylor’s guards were active in the game making assists and creating shots for the post players.
“We can improve and everyone can improve their game,” Chandler said. “We’re definitely trying to rebound the ball every time. We’re trying to focus on our jump shots, layups and just trying to contribute to the team as much as possible.”
Grambling State’s positive takeaway from the game was its ability to rebound. Baylor did outrebound the team 51-47, but Grambling State senior forward shined on the boards.
“We’re proud of Victoya Ricks, she was our Brittney Griner tonight,” Grambling State assistant coach Lou Hamilton said. “She came up with 14 [points] and 14 [rebounds]. She was the most dominant person on the boards between both teams, so we’re excited about that.”
Sims’ leadership in this game was on display as she drove the offense and set the tone on defense. At one series of the game Sims assisted on a pass to freshman guard Imani Wright for a 3-point basket. The ensuing play, Sims creates back-to-back steals and drives the last one in and draws the foul.
Baylor’s depth allows the team to be balanced leading to better bench production. While the team is still trying to improve on its chemistry, a win like this can give the team momentum going forward. Baylor received good production from freshman forward Nina Davis shooting a perfect 5-5 from the field for 11 points.
The Lady Tigers made the first shot of the second half, but Sims responded with a layup seconds later. Sophomore post Kristina Higgins was active in the paint area leading the team with nine rebounds, a career-high.
Grambling State’s shooting improved in the second half, but Baylor was too much for the Lady Tigers to overcome.
Baylor extended its home win streak to 58 games, which is the longest active winning streak in the NCAA and will hope to add on to that streak with a game against Nicholls State at 7 p.m., Thursday at the Ferrell Center.