By Matt Larsen
If any ghosts exist from the Lady Bears’ struggles in Stillwater, Okla., the last couple years, they did not show up Sunday as Baylor overpowered Oklahoma State 84-57 on their home floor.
“We’ve had some fantastic finishes here. We have had some heartbreaking finishes,” head coach Kim Mulkey said in a post-game press conference. “We have had off the floor issues from planes not being able to take us home to one year I think I was sick. We’re not home yet, but the plane is in Stillwater, so when we leave here we are headed to the plane.”
The Cowgirls (13-8, 1-7) kept the Lady Bears (21-1, 8-0) within reach for the first 14 minutes, trailing just 25-18.
With just under six minutes to play, Baylor seemed to come fully alive.
Senior guard Melissa Jones hit a jumper followed by a trey from sophomore Kimetria Hayden to ignite a run that extended the gap to 20 points by halftime.
Jones tallied 11 points before going into the locker room.
“We had a couple big scorers go out of the game, and we were just trying to find things to get the game going,” Jones said. “It was really slow paced there for a while. We needed a pick-up of something.”
Following the boost from Jones and Hayden, the Lady Bears primarily extended the gap from the free throw line, finishing 12 of 14 for the half.
Because of foul trouble and the Cowgirls’ defense crowding sophomore post Brittney Griner, the Lady Bears’ turned to contributors off the bench and a less-known but growing force in the paint.
Griner still led all scorers with 19 points and nine boards, but sophomore Destiny Williams followed closely with 17 points and 7 rebounds.
“Destiny is a post player that faces the basket well, has a great touch on the ball,” Mulkey said. “When things are collapsing on Griner down there, she’s going to get those looks. It makes them think twice about what they can do to Griner down there.”
Coming off the bench, juniors Ashley Field and Terran Condrey filled the roles asked of them. Both saw more minutes than usual during conference play and combined for eight points and seven boards.
“Being able to come out there and help the starters when they are in foul trouble is just going to help the team,” Field said. “That’s our job … to come in there and fill in the gaps when they need to be filled.”
Two of the last three years the Lady Bears have brought a 13-game win streak to Stillwater just to see it come abruptly to a halt.
This year Baylor’s streak grew to a nation-leading 18 straight wins as they improved to their best start in program history at 21-1.
With their toughest conference road test (Texas A&M) behind them, the possibility of the Lady Bears winning all 16 conference games arises more often.
“I don’t know if we can or we can’t,” Mulkey said. “What matters the most is win the championship. If winning the championship requires us to go undefeated, then we better go undefeated. If you take care of next game, it could happen.”
The Lady Bears next face Nebraska at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday in Lincoln, Neb.