As their classmates were off school between the fall and spring semesters, Baylor men’s basketball and women’s basketball were still hard at work.
Both teams began Big 12 Conference play and remain among the top of the standings in the conference and in the national polls.
The No. 22 Bears went 5-2 over the break, stayed undefeated at home and ended a top-ranked team’s win streak (No. 13 Iowa State).
The Bears first faced Hardin-Simmons on the road where five Baylor players scored in double figures. The Bears won decisively, 104-59.
With the Bears starting the break off on a high note they looked poised to continue their good form against No. 15 Texas A&M. The Aggies outscored the Bears by 21 in the first half, a deficit the Bears were never able to recover.
“Both teams will be better after this game. Hopefully we’ll learn a lot from it,” said Baylor head coach Scott Drew
Trying to rebound from the loss, the Bears were motivated to win at home against New Mexico State.
It was clear that senior forward Taurean Prince had put the Texas A&M game behind him when he scored a career-high 34 points, which contributed to the Bears taking the win, 85-70.
“What happened in College Station?” Prince said. “My memory’s not too good on that one. But as far as today’s game, our intensity was really high. We rebounded well enough to win the game and get second chances and did what we needed to do – we took care of the ball and shared it.”
The Bears cruised past Texas Southern at home, 72-59, for a second consecutive win.
No. 1 Kansas stopped the Bears in their tracks on the road.
The Bears trailed by 14 at the half. The Jayhawks kept the momentum going their way, which led to a final score of 102-74 for Baylor’s first loss of conference play.
The Jayhawks’ relentless offense and fast pace hindered the Bears from ever getting the game to turn in their favor. This marked the sixth consecutive time the Bears had fallen short to the Jayhawks.
The Bears returned home to face Oklahoma State for their conference home opener. The Bears got out of the gates attacking, which was noted by a 12 -point lead at the half. The lead proved to be too much for the Cowboys to overcome.
Senior forward Rico Gathers captured his 31st career double-double and surpassed 1,000 career rebounds against the Cowboys. The Bears had all the momentum going their way to take the win, 79-62.
“I never thought I would be able to reach a milestone like that in my college career,” Gathers said. “One of the main reasons I came back for my senior year was to cement my legacy here. Being able to reach the 1,000 [points], 1,000 [rebounds] milestone is definitely a blessing.”
Thanks to sophomore forward Jonathan Motley scoring a career high 27 points, and Prince totaling 18 points, the Bears handed the No. 13 Cyclones their first loss of the season and put a halt to their 21-home game win streak.
The Bears are riding high off another dominant win over TCU on Wednesday at the Ferrell Center as they go deeper into conference play at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Texas Tech.
While most of everyone was away on winter break, the Lady Bears continued to dominate on the court.
The Lady Bears (17-1, 4-1) started off the break at home crushing the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles (6-10), 97-39.
Junior forward Nina Davis led the Bears with 26 points and six rebounds in just 23 minutes of play.
The Lady Bears’ first real test over the break came against No. 21 Miami (16-2). Baylor held a one-point lead going into the half, 45-44. Shooting 49 percent in the second half allowed the Bears to break away, 88-81.
After spending time in the sunshine, the Lady Bears traveled to Stillwater, Okla. where the Lady Bears were handed their first loss of the season in a hard-fought battle against Oklahoma State (12-3). The Lady Bears lost 52-45.
The Cowgirls ended a losing streak against the Lady Bears, with the last victory coming on Jan. 9, 2010.
“They know that the road ahead of them is tougher now,” said head coach Kim Mulkey. “We’ve just got to get back in sync.”
The No. 14 ranked Oklahoma (13-3, 3-1) team would be the victim of a focused Lady Bears team. The Lady Bears took full control over the Sooners at home, winning 78-67.
Continuing with a focused mindset, the Bears went on the road to Lawrence, Kan., to face the Jayhawks (5-10, 0-4).
With the Bears shutting down the Jayhawks leading scorer, sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge, the Lady Bears took the win, 58-40.
The Bears’ last test of the break, and possibly best performance came at home against TCU (10-5, 2-2).
Freshman posts Beatrice Mompremier and Kalani Brown combined to score 33 points which helped the Lady Bears sweep the Horned Frogs, 72-55.
The Lady Bears play No. 4 Texas at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Austin. It will be the first of two meetings between the two teams in the the 2015-16 season.