By Jeffrey Swindoll
The No. 3 Lady Bears extended their lead in the Big 12 to three games after a 89-66 destruction of the Oklahoma Sooners, who currently sit in second place of the Big 12 standings, on Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor (23-1, 12-0) has a commanding grip of the Big 12 right now on a 22-game winning streak; the Big 12 title is within reach for the Lady Bears.
It was hyped as a heavyweight fight before tip-off on Wednesday. The Big 12’s best two teams finally get to play each other. The first half showed that the matchup was not all it was cracked up to be, as the Lady Bears played a thrilling opening to the game and the crowd at the Ferrell Center suffocated the visiting Sooners.
“Early, we didn’t make a lot of shots and we let it snowball,” Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale said. “They’re the type of team that if they smell you being weak, or they smell you being frustrated, then they come at you even harder, and we were the recipient of that tonight.”
Sophomore forward Nina Davis played one the best games of her career against the Sooners. Davis drew and-one after and-one, victimizing a usually proficient Oklahoma defense.
Every one of Baylor’s starters had one of their best nights against Oklahoma. Junior guard Niya Johnson earned 17 assists, an all-time Big 12 women’s basketball record. Moreover, Johnson committed zero turnovers.
“I was shocked when I heard I had 17 assists and zero turnovers,” Johnson said. “My whole team congratulated me. I’m just glad they can finish the shots. I didn’t know. I was just playing.”
Davis scored 31 points, 20 of which were in the first half. Sophomore guard Alexis Prince scored 16 points with two three-pointers and 11 rebounds. Senior post Sune Agbuke added 10 points. Sophomore guard Imani Wright scored 11 points.
Baylor had no problem dishing the ball off to senior guard Prince, Wright or even freshman guard Kristy Wallace against Oklahoma’s press. The Lady Bears had enough options on offense to cope with Oklahoma’s various defensive looks.
Oklahoma did plenty of good things to put themselves back in the game, but the Lady Bears’ first half dented a crater so deep into Oklahoma’s score, a comeback was not plausible.
The Sooners’ best chance at completed the comeback came in the final five minutes of play. Oklahoma’s guards were driving and shooting well, succeeding on many of their trips to Baylor’s half of the court. A whopping 33 of Oklahoma’s 66 points came off three-pointers. The Sooners nailed nine of their 11 three-pointers in the second half.
OU guards Peyton Little and Gabbi Ortiz were Oklahoma’s workhorses in the team’s failed attempt at a comeback. Little and Ortiz led the Sooners’ runs in the second half, but the Lady Bears responded, blow-for-blow, halting any chance at Oklahoma playing itself back into the game.
“We matched [Oklahoma], pretty much,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “Not necessarily with threes, but every time they would go on a run we’d come back and we’d go match them. We never just let it get out of hand.”
The Lady Bears counter-punched with three defensive stops turned into fast break points that lifted the Ferrell Center’s crowd to deafening levels, making it 79-54. No chance for Oklahoma.