By Jeffrey Swindoll
The No. 12 Baylor Lady Bears snapped their two-game losing streak after handily defeating Kansas State 71-48 on Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center.
The Lady Bears (15-3, 5-1) started the first half with intensity and the Kansas State Wildcats (8-10, 2-5) struggled to respond convincingly for the first few minutes. Senior guard Mackenzie Robertson scored a three-pointer to open the game, and scored another in Baylor’s next offensive possession, giving the Lady Bears early momentum.
“It helps us get our intensity up,” senior point guard Odyssey Sims said. “We’re already excited to play, but it gives us more excitement to just get out there and we’re excited Mackenzie was making shots. We fed off what she did.”
Baylor’s offensive dominance and tenacious defense was overwhelming for Kansas State in the first half. The Wildcats put the Lady Bears into the bonus well before the half, adding fuel to Baylor’s multiple double-digit runs. The momentum was clearly in Baylor’s favor and never changed in the first half.
Baylor led for the entire first half, prohibiting the Wildcats from scoring for the final 10 minutes. Kansas State turned the ball over and got into foul trouble against a Baylor team that converted 75 percent of its shots from the free-throw line in the first half.
The Wildcats were out-shot, out-rebounded and out-performed in every category except for their two blocks against Baylor. Baylor made three-pointers, one after another, and Kansas State failed to respond. The Lady Bears shared the ball and made shots to put Kansas State away early. Baylor ended the half on a 29-0 run over a nine and a half minute period to erase any hopes the Wildcats might have had of earning a victory.
Going into halftime, the Lady Bears held a substantial 39-point lead over the Wildcats, 52-13. Kansas State turned the ball over 14 times. Baylor converted KSU turnovers into 30 points on the other end of the court. The Wildcats could not find their offensive groove in the first half, making one out of 12 three-point attempts, and shot 6-for-21 inside the arc.
Baylor pushed the agenda much less in the second half by playing a more conservative brand of basketball. The Lady Bears scored only 19 points in the second half after putting up 52 points in the first. On the other hand, Kansas State had a significantly better second half, outscoring Baylor 35-19.
But it was too little, too late. The Lady Bears put the nail in the coffin in the first half, and it proved to be too much for the Wildcats. Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey began rotating her starters out of the game. Baylor had the option to sit back, and the Wildcats knew it would be an uphill battle. Baylor’s first half opened up the opportunity for inexperienced players to get some playing time prior to a road game against Oklahoma State. Mulkey said she was very pleased with the team’s first half performance, but was still not satisfied with the team’s second half performance.
“I thought that, in the first half, our players came out, played hard and did what they needed to do,” Mulkey said. “I thought the second half was horrible.”
Kansas State guard Leticia Romero came into this game as one of the Big 12’s top guards and leading scorers, but Mulkey felt Sims shut Romero down on Wednesday night’s outing.
“I think [Leticia] Romero came into this game as the third leading scorer in the league,” Mulkey said. “Tonight, against Odyssey, I think she had six points, six turnovers and no assists. I can’t ask anything more from Odyssey.”
Sims finished with 20 points and six assists in 20 minutes. Freshman forward Nina Davis and Robertson had nine points apiece.
“Emotionally, I don’t feel as though I had a group that was committed to competing,” Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson said. “We played like our tank was empty. For me, the dam broke on the offensive end in the first half with the turnovers and I felt we took too many shots from the three-point line that we shouldn’t have taken.”
The Lady Bears will face the Oklahoma State Cowgirls (17-1, 6-1) at 4 p.m. Sunday at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Okla.