By Krista Pirtle
Sophomore Shanay Washington was on the hardwood for the No. 1 Lady Bears in a uniform and in the lineup as Baylor went on to defeat No. 22 Kansas State 76-41.
Washington has not played since tearing her ACL in December 2010. She finished with six points.
“After her and-1 I grabbed the top of her head like I always did and was like, ‘Ah! You’re back!” junior Brittney Griner said.
The starting five for Baylor took a few minutes to get rolling, finding themselves down by a couple at the first media timeout.
After that, the Lady Bears went on a 10-0 run and never looked back.
“I liked everything I saw tonight,” head coach Kim Mulkey said.
Every Baylor player scored, led by Griner with 22, followed by Nae Nae Hayden with 11.
“I’m just lucky to have the teammates that I have around me,” Griner said. “I wouldn’t trade any of them. Everybody contributes. It’s just different nights that different people step up. That’s the one thing that I love about our team. Somebody will step up if someone else is having an off night. We do a great job on finding each other. Whoever has the hot hand, we will get them the ball.”
“I’m a driver,” Hayden said. “It was wide open tonight.”
Despite the score and the depth of the team, Baylor only shot 44 percent from the floor.
“You don’t notice the poor shooting because of our defense and rebounds,” Mulkey said.
At the eight-minute mark, Mulkey cleared the bench, which contributed a total of 26 points on the evening.
“They didn’t give up the lead,” Mulkey said. “And that is hard to do when the other team has their starters in. When I put them in we were up 35, and we ended the game up 35. They want to do good.”
Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson said he acknowledged the growth of the Lady Bears and complete dominance they showed on the hardwood.
“That was a dominant performance by Baylor relative to what we brought to the floor,” Patterson said. “Their work on the boards was a huge factor. There wasn’t any aspect of the game where they didn’t dominate us today, with the confidence they play with and the ball distribution.”
Earlier Saturday afternoon, the Baylor men’s team fell to Missouri in front of a sell-out crowd.
That crowd seemed to have stuck around as the Lady Bears played in front of a packed house of 9,380.
“I was a little unsure about the kind of crowd we would have with the doubleheader and the big gap between games,” Mulkey said. “They were ready to see us after playing on the road.”
The crowd will largely not be cheering for Mulkey and company at their next game, which is at 7 p.m. Thursday in Norman, Okla., against the Sooners.
The Lady Bears won their last meeting with the Sooners 82-81 on Feb. 27, 2011 in Norman.