By Jeffery Swindoll
The Lady Bears won in a rout 89-51 against Iowa State Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. The Cyclones came out strong, but failed to keep up with Baylor’s speed and efficiency throughout the night.
Baylor crushed Iowa State in their first of two meetings on the season.
Baylor (23-3, 13-1) worked the ball around, trying find a pass to get inside, but was confused by ISU’s defensive game plan. Most teams struggle to find their footing early in the game against Baylor. The Cyclones came out of the gate ready to play, opening with the first basket and doing well to prohibit an early lead for the Lady Bears.
The No. 6 Lady Bears eventually found their baskets on the inside after head coach Kim Mulkey and her staff broke down ISU’s defense in a timeout. The Lady Bears held their lead by a comfortable margin for the remainder of the first half.
However, their time in the lead came from careless errors on passes, rebounds and defensive positioning. Baylor was fortunate Iowa State could not make open looks as the game went on.
ISU’s 14 turnovers in the first half really hurt its chances of making Baylor’s lead a manageable deficit.
Baylor scored 11 points off turnovers. The Lady Bears were so good on the fast break that ISU head coach Bill Fennelly switched their team’s formation on free throws, compromising rebounds off free throws for better positioning in case of a fast break.
Whenever the Cyclones had someone shooting at the line, the two point guards for ISU stayed back on their defensive end to senior guard Odyssey Sims or sophomore guard Niya Johnson on the quick transition.
Sims made four of her six attempts from downtown just in the first half alone, and went into the locker room with 18 points. Baylor led at the half comfortably with a 38-21 advantage.
ISU cut down on its turnovers substantially in the second half, but the Cyclones were more conservative on offense because of Baylor’s suffocating defensive presence.
Not a single player from the Cyclones scored more than 10 points. ISU’s offense in the first half was threatening on the perimeter with decent looks, but lost that identity in the second half.
The Cyclones are known around the league as a three-point shooting team. That is their offensive play style, but it just was not working on Wednesday.
ISU struggled in the second half to get in the game. Their usual production from three-point territory was not there, and they were not familiar enough with their post game to be effective there as well.
“We just have not shot the ball well in the games that we’ve lost,” Fennelly said. “Our key players [have] got to show up to play. We’ve got to shoot it great, and when we’ve lost, we’ve done anything but shoot it great.”
Despite not getting a shot off in the first half, senior guard Makenzie Robertson was perfect from downtown in the second half.
Robertson and Sims were a primary reason ISU never had a chance to get back in the game. They made ISU pay for the open looks given to the Lady Bears in the second half.
“I think [Robertson] is an all conference player — the way she plays, defends and shoots,” Fennelly said.
Sims went 6-for-8 beyond the line, and took Baylor’s all-time single season record for three-pointers made.
She surpassed Emily Niemann’s record of 75 set in 2003-04. Sims’ active record rests at 80 for now.
By the eighth minute of the second half, Sims and the majority of the starters had already checked out of the game, clearing the bench for inexperienced players to get some minute. A number of the bench players were getting some time in the first half as well. Baylor’s bench outscored ISU’s bench 39-10. Freshman post Khadijah Cave and sophomore post Kristina Higgins led the bench with a combined total of 19 points.
“It’s good to get to rest players,” Mulkey said. “I think [Cave] and Kristina are playing their best basketball right now. We didn’t miss a beat with them in there.”
Sims shot the ball only 13 times. Considering Sims’ game-to-game shot totals are usually over 20, this was one of Sims’ lowest numbers of shots taken in a game this season, but also one of her most efficient nights of her career.
“I really don’t look to take a lot more shots [every night],” Sims said. “I just go with how the flow of the game is going. I thought our bench did a good job coming in and finishing shots.”
The Lady Bears hit the road next to face TCU at 11 a.m. Saturday in Fort Worth.