Big 12 WBB: Baylor stays on top, OU close

By Jeffrey Swindoll
Sports Writer

Baylor (19-1, 8-0)
The No. 3 Lady Bears are firing on all cylinders. Each game features a different combination of great performances from Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey’s players, young and old. Baylor is on an impressive 18-game winning streak. Mulkey is finding ways to win with her dynamic, versatile team in yet another competitive Big 12 season. Sophomore forward Nina Davis averages a league-leading 21.3 points per game.

“Nina is an excellent player, but [Baylor has] also got a lot of other players that make them work, and they aren’t solely dependent on her,” TCU head coach Raegan Pebley said. “When they make a substitution, it’s more of handing off a baton in a 4-by-1 relay. There’s not a big dip.”

Oklahoma (13-5, 7-0)
The Sooners, the only other undefeated team in the Big 12, have won eight-straight games. The last time Oklahoma boasted a streak number higher than eight was in the 2008-09 season when the Sooners won 20 straight.

“We’re on the inside looking at how many times we miss block-outs and what we have to do to get more offensive rebounds, how we can execute tighter and cleaner,” Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale said. “There are just so many little things that we are focused on. There is plenty of room still, but it’s nice to see [the players] rewarded for their diligence.”

Iowa State (14-4, 5-2)
The Cyclones made school history over the weekend. Iowa State recorded its highest-ranked road win in program history with a 58-57 win over No. 8 Texas. The Cyclones beat the then-No. 3 Texas Longhorns at home earlier in the season and completed the season sweep in dramatic fashion.

“In a year where, right now, it looks everyone is going to be beating each other up, any time you can get that tie-breaker or get a sweep, or any time you get a road win, those things are really, really valuable,” Iowa State head coach Bill Fennelly said.

TCU (12-7, 4-4)
The Horned Frogs are playing with a brand new coach this season, working to rebuild a program that has not necessarily been up to par to the standard of the Big 12 since joining the league in 2011. The Horned Frogs laid an egg against the Lady Bears on Tuesday. Team-leading scorer Zahna Medley scored just six points and missed 10 of her 11 field goals. TCU lost 89-67.

“The job we did on Medley was important,” Mulkey said after Tuesday’s game. “She can shoot the three and do it effectively. Our defense collapsed to the ball when they tried to drive.”

Texas (14-4, 3-4)
The Longhorns were considered the team to beat at the onset of the conference schedule. Turns out, most of the teams in the Big 12 decided to go on and beat them. The No. 8 Longhorns lost to Iowa State in Austin over the weekend 58-57. Senior forward Nneka Enemkpali saw her collegiate career end with an ACL tear last week.

“This was a really tough loss,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said after the Iowa State game. “Obviously, it was our first home loss so that stings quite a bit, but also just the way that we lost the game. I thought we lost by not having enough discipline to defend the fouling and it allowed them to get back in the game.”

Oklahoma State (12-6, 2-5)
The Cowgirls misfired in their last two games with losses to Oklahoma and TCU last week. Oklahoma State are now in a four-way tie for sixth place. Brittany Atkins ended her season with an injury last week, forcing the Cowgirls to scramble their starting lineup that had been the same every game since November.

“We’re playing three pretty experienced players in Brittney Martin, Liz Donohoe and LaShawn Jones,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said. “We haven’t got that premiere player that’s going to go get 20 or 25 on a given night like Nina Davis. Balanced scoring, defense and rebounding is what we’ve got to excel at.”

Texas Tech (12-7, 2-5)
Senior guard Amber Battle scored 16 points in the Red Raiders’ 70-64 loss to Oklahoma on Saturday. It was her 12th game in double figures this season.

“We’re still definitely a work in progress, but learning a lot,” Texas Tech head coach Candi Whittaker said. “I feel like they’re buying in defensively, and what we’re trying to get done. They’re bringing great energy every day. I feel like we can play better and execute better offensively by trying to find more consistency in scoring.”

West Virginia (12-7, 2-5)
Jessica Morton scored a game-high 22 points to the Mountaineers in their victory over Kansas State. West Virginia, a co-champion of the Big 12 last season, do not seem to have the same spunk as the previous year. The Mountaineers dropped a game to Kansas over the weekend.

“Give Kansas credit,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said. “They played harder and pounded the boards harder than we did. Some of our players weren’t focused. We should’ve had a bigger lead at halftime. In the second half, when they started making their run, we made a lot of mistakes defensively and offensively.”

Kansas (11-9, 2-5)
The Jayhawks won two games in a row last week, including a 68-66 win against Texas Tech in Lubbock. Kansas plays the Lady Bears for their second meeting of the regular season on Sunday in Waco.

Kansas State (11-7, 1-6)
The Wildcats are in a rebuilding phase with a new coach and a new system being implemented this season. Senior guard Haley Texada has emerged for the K-State offense, averaging 12 points a game. Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie turned a strictly man-to-man team into a zone defense.

“I think we’ve adapted to the change pretty well,” Kansas State senior forward Ashia Woods said. “It’s a completely different system. We went from a man team to a completely zone team. We’re doing pretty well on defense holding teams to good numbers. I feel like it’s been a good change for us.”