By Jeffrey Swindoll
In an overtime thriller, two of the Big 12’s top teams, and two of the league’s best point guards faced off in another road test for the No. 12 Lady Bears.
Baylor was able to overcome the No. 8 Oklahoma State’s second half comeback, and a frantic overtime period, to beat the conference leaders 69-66.
Baylor (16-3, 6-1) went toe-to-toe with Oklahoma State (17-2, 6-2) in the first half, holding the lead for the majority of the half. The key to Baylor’s success in the first half was its high-intensity man-to-man defense and turning offensive possessions into buckets.
The Lady Bears were smarter with the ball, only turning it over six times compared to Cowgirls’ 11 turnovers. Baylor punished Oklahoma State’s carelessness with the ball by scoring 24 points off of turnovers.
Junior post Sune Agbuke picked up three fouls before the half, obligating Mulkey to sub her out of the game. This presented a challenge for Baylor on the defensive end, but sophomore post Kristina Higgins stepped up to the challenge and seamlessly fulfilled her role on both sides of the floor. Higgins had three rebounds and six points in 15 minutes.
Baylor had the two top-scorers of the first half with guard Odyssey Sims scoring 11 and guard Nina Davis scoring eight points. Mulkey said her team has done well in the first half throughout the season, but in the second half, especially on the road, the Lady Bears have not been as effective.
Baylor was outscored in the second half of its past two games and was looking to avoid another second half slump against the Cowgirls.
Coming into the game, Baylor was aware of guard Tiffany Bias’ production for OSU’s offense. The Lady Bears successfully held Bias below double figures for the first half, but the OSU senior guard started to find her form later in the second half.
But the history from Baylor’s road loss against Kansas a week ago looked like it would repeat itself: another conference road loss after playing well in the first half, but falling flat in the second half.
Just as she did against Kansas, Agbuke fouled out with over six minutes left to play in the game. Once again, the Lady Bears found themselves being outscored in the second half, but they were still in position to tie the game with 14 seconds left on the clock.
After a bizarre play that saw the game clock freeze as Baylor was attempting a game-tying three-pointer, Baylor was given possession after the officials sorted the issue out. In the ensuing possession, Baylor tied the game at 61 after senior guard Mackenzie Robertson drained a three with five seconds left in regulation.
Immediately off the inbounds pass, Bias bolted down the court to attempt what would have been the game-winning layup, but missed off the backboard, sending the game to overtime.
The Lady Bears needed to fix their offensive woes from the second half in overtime, and did so. Baylor quickly took a 65-61 lead in overtime, but OSU came back, once again, to make it 66-66.
After making a critical defensive stop, Sims quickly dashed down the court, and made a clutch layup as she was fouled. Sims made the free throw to give the Lady Bears a three-point lead.
OSU had one last chance to tie the game with three seconds, but it came up short after Sims stole the ball from Bias crossing halfcourt. Sims held onto the ball as time expired to solidify Baylor’s critical road victory against the Big 12 Conference leader.
Robertson finished the game with 18 points, making six of her 10 three-point attempts. Sims followed behind with 16 points and eight assists. Davis earned her fifth double-double with 16 points and 17 rebounds.
OSU’s Bias finished with 17 points and 5 assists. The Cowgirls were out-rebounded by the Lady Bears 55-40.
The Lady Bears return to Waco to take on Texas Tech at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Ferrell Center.