By Jeffrey Swindoll
In a tale of two halves, the No. 7 Baylor Lady Bears lost 76-60 the Kansas Lady Jayhawks in Lawrence, Kan., Sunday. The Lady Bears collapsed in the second half after holding a narrow lead after the first half.
The loss snapped three different winning streaks for the Lady Bears, including an eight-game streak against Kansas (9-9, 2-4). The loss also marked the first loss in conference play this season for Baylor (14-3, 4-1).
Baylor showed its dominance right out of the gate, going on an 8-0 run, while capitalizing on Kansas turnovers and poor rebounding. With nine minutes remaining, the Lady Jayhawks fought back to close the gap to 15-13, but the Lady Bears responded with another 8-0 run.
Kansas had an opportunity to take the lead after senior guard Odyssey Sims checked out of the game with under a minute left in the first half. With 24 seconds left in the first half, Kansas found itself in the lead for the first time in the game, but Baylor answered with a layup right before halftime to reclaim the lead at 32-31.
The Lady Bears made 31.7 percent of their shots in the first half while Kansas made 34.3 percent of its field goals.
Kansas kept the beginning of the second half much tighter than the first, holding Baylor’s lead to a minimum of three points. In the first four minutes of the half, the Jayhawks took the lead with 15:34 to play on guard Natalie Knight’s field goal.
The lead of game swung back and forth throughout the second half in the first nine minutes. Neither team could take more than a three point lead in those first nine minutes of the second half.
At a critical point in the game, with Baylor leading by just one point, Kansas guard Asia Boyd came off the bench in the second half and made a momentum swinging 3-pointer to take the lead with 10 minutes to go in the game.
Starting center Sune Agbuke fouled out of the game with just under eight minutes left on a controversial defensive foul call. Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey was absolutely livid off the bench after her senior center fouled out, going past half-court to contest the call to the referee, with Baylor assistant coaches trying to restrain Mulkey.
From that point on, Kansas’ execution was too much for Baylor as the roaring home-crowd fueled the Lady Jayhawks’ momentum and enabled a double-digit lead for the home team. Baylor could not execute in its transitional or half-court offense, missing shots and causing turnovers that Kansas turned into points.
Kansas outscored Baylor 45-28 in the second half, making 42.8 percent of its shots in the entire game, with Baylor making only 30.4 percent of its shots in the game.
Kansas forward Chelsea Gardner was right behind Sims in the points lead, earning 28 points and 9 rebounds. Sims finished the game with 31 points, the highest of any from both teams, but it was not enough to overcome Baylor’s second half errors and Kansas’ late-game heroics.
The Lady Bears return to Waco at 7 p.m. Wednesday to host the Kansas State Wildcats at the Ferrell Center.