Feelin’ 20, again: Lady Bears earn 16th consecutive 20-win season

The Lady Bear Basketball defeats Texas Tech 69-43 at the Ferrell Center. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt

By Meghan Mitchell Lariat Sports Writer

For the 16th consecutive season, the Lady Bears won at least 20 games, a continuing Big 12 record for head coach Kim Mulkey and her team.

In a night to show support for the Pat Summit Foundation and bring awareness to Alzheimer’s, the No. 4 Baylor Lady Bears found a way to take the win against Texas Tech, 69-43, despite sluggish play.

Although the score would induce one to think the Lady Bears were dominant over the Lady Red Raiders, Mulkey said her team still has plenty to work on from Wednesday’s game.

“Well, there are probably a couple areas I was pleased in, but in the rest of the game, we were not very good tonight. We turned the basketball over entirely too much. We didn’t play inspired for whatever reason.” – Head coach Kim Mulkey

The Lady Bears (20-1, 7-1) faced the Lady Red Raiders (10-10, 1-8) who have struggled in conference play this season, only winning one conference game against Iowa State in double-overtime.

The Lady Bears, on the other hand, won all but one conference game, with the lone loss coming on the road against Oklahoma State.

Looking past the season record is a habit Mulkey wanted her team to exercise ahead of Wednesday’s game.

“Sometimes players look at records, and you try your best to make them understand Texas Tech isn’t going to go away, and they didn’t go away.” – Head coach Kim Mulkey said.

The Lady Bears’ aggressive, relentless style was present from the opening whistle, However, Baylor found it difficult to connect with the basket early on.

To the Lady Bears’ advantage, the Lady Red Raiders also struggled to capitalize on open looks. The Lady Bears’ 33.3 shooting percentage was enough to take a 13-7 lead to end the first quarter with the Lady Red Raiders shooting a field goal percentage of 14.3.

“We had a lot of unforced turnovers. We have to go back in the film room and discuss those turnovers and why they happened. Overall, it was an ugly win, but we got the win.” – Senior guard Niya Johnson

Junior guard Alexis Prince struggled with injuries earlier in the season, but brought a morale boost to the Lady Bears by hitting a three with just seconds remaining in the first half. Jones’ jumper gave the Lady Bears a 33-19 lead going at halftime.

“I thought Alexis Prince was a spark for us off the bench. I thought she got some big rebounds for us; she hit some big shots.” – Head coach Kim Mulkey

However, the Lady Red Raiders were not just going to go away without making a mark and although they fought back to close the gap to 15 to end the third quarter, the Lady Bears remained in the lead going into the fourth quarter, 51-36.

The Lady Bears did not need to over exert themselves anymore in the fourth quarter. It was all about closing out the game.

A three by junior guard Alexis Jones and an easy fast-break layup by Johnson helped the Lady Bears extend their lead to 24 with just over three minutes remaining in regulation.

Baylor ended the game shooting a field goal percentage of 48.1 and outscored Texas Tech in the paint, 38-20. But there is no denying the Lady Bears’ play was more sluggish than usual, Mulkey said.

“It was just sloppy play. I thought we put them [on the foul line] too much in the second half.” – Head coach Kim Mulkey

The Lady Bears continue their Big 12 campaign at West Virginia at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Mulkey and her team look to put their sloppy games behind them.

“We are just going to play every game like it is our last. We are going to play hard and stay focused.” – Senior guard Niya Johnson

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Junior guard Alexis Jones dribbles against a Texas Tech defender on Wednesday at the Ferrell Center. Jones was honored for her 1,000th career point before the game. Photo credit: Trey Honeycutt