No. 8 Lady Bears start season strong with 101-60 win over Oral Roberts

By Jeffrey Swindoll
Sports Writer

The 2014-15 season began with a 101-60 victory for the No. 8 Lady Bears Friday night at the Ferrell Center over the Oral Roberts University Golden Eagles. After a strong showing in the team’s second exhibition game last week, sophomore forward Nina Davis continued her good form, leading the Lady Bears with 22 points and 10 rebounds Friday night.

“It was really fun out there [against ORU],” Davis said. “There were just a lot of jokes. My teammates were cracking jokes like I should’ve passed here or they made fun of my point guard skills. It was just a lot of fun out there [Friday night].”

Following close behind Davis on the score chart were two players coming off the bench, making a significant impact on the game as substitutes — sophomore post Khadijiah Cave (19 points) and sophomore guard Imani Wright (18 points). Davis and Wright played almost 30 minutes each, and Cave was the game’s second-leading scorer with just 19 minutes played.

“We got production from multiple players,” Mulkey said. “As you can see, I can play a lot of players in a lot of different combinations. I’ve got a lot to work with and think about. I don’t have my mind made up yet. I just have to keep experimenting and, come Monday, I’ll do it.”

Sloppiness in rebounding and passing plagued the Lady Bears in the first half, but they picked it up and comfortably pulled away from the Golden Eagles in the second half. Baylor’s defense forced 31 turnovers, helping the Lady Bears choke out any chance of the Golden Eagles finding a way back into the game. ORU’s young lineup evidently affected their turnover rate Friday night, ORU head coach Misti Cussen said.

“We’re playing with two freshman point guards right now, and I thought the turnovers and their lack of aggressiveness at times was a great reason for us to be in the situation that we were in,” Cussen said. “I thought that Baylor did a great job on some of their man-to-man rotations in the halfcourt.”

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said her team’s free throw shooting was “terrible” Friday night. The Lady Bears percentage from the foul line deteriorated as the game went on. Baylor shot 66.7 percent in the first half and fell to 63 percent in the second half, averaging 64.3% in the game. Additionally, Mulkey said her team allowed too many points against ORU.

“60 is too many for a game like tonight,” Mulkey said. “We’ve got to fix that. If we’re going to play a lot of kids and move kids in and out, they’ve got to understand the value of defense.”

With a massive 49-25 lead at halftime, Mulkey was able to rotate many more players onto the court, including Wright and Cave. Every player on the Lady Bears’ roster, aside from junior forward Chardonae Fuqua who played just eight minutes, scored at least 6 points Friday night. Furthermore, Baylor had four players finish in double digits for scoring.

One of Mulkey’s biggest complaints from her team’s two exhibition games was their carelessness with the basketball. The Lady Bears turned that trend around 180 degrees Friday night.

“If you look at our turnovers [against ORU], we only had about eight, and that’s excellent,” Mulkey said. “We’ve cut in half what we did in exhibition games and that’s been emphasized as well in practice.”

Looking forward to their big game on Monday night at No. 11 Kentucky, Mulkey said the Lady Bears must take care of the basketball like they did against ORU to have a chance at winning. Baylor plays Kentucky at 6 p.m. on Monday in Lexington, Ky. on ESPN2.