The No. 3 Lady Bears came out on top over No. 17 Oklahoma State on Wednesday at the Ferrell Center, 66-41.
The Lady Bears undefeated at home this season and are on track to take the Big 12 regular season title as a season finale against Texas on Monday looms large.
“Baylor is good, there is no question. With all the pieces to the puzzle right now, they are the team to beat right now in this league,“ said Oklahoma State head coach Jim Littell.
“We knew coming in here that Kim [Mulkey] would have her group ready to play, and they were. I’m a little disappointed on how we started the game and ended the game, but I thought they were the aggressor. They played with a lot more fire then we did.”
The Cowgirls (19-6, 9-5) dealt the Lady Bears their only loss earlier this season in Stillwater, Okla. The Lady Bears, determined to come out on top, did just that while extending their win streak to 13 games.
The Lady Bears (26-1, 13-1) who hold the top spot in the Big 12, came out shooting at 100 percent to go on a quick 8-0 run in the first four minutes of play, forcing head coach Jim Littell to call a timeout.
In their matchup earlier this season, senior guard Niya Johnson did not play and handicapped the Lady Bears’ offensive production. With Johnson in the lineup this time around, her presence could be felt.
Johnson dove to the floor for several loose ball plays and found open players after claiming possession. Johnson’s efforts pumped up the crowd at the Ferrell Center.
“I know there are some point guards that score more than Niya Johnson, but there is no point guard that can open the floor like she can,” Littell said.
Scoring 14 of their 16 first half points in the paint, the Cowgirls struggled to stop the Lady Bears’ inside drives and post play.
With the Cowgirls shooting at just 10.5 percent from the field, the Lady Bears were able to take a 16-5 lead to end the first period.
Going into the second quarter, the Cowgirls looked to regain some the momentum.
They attacked the Lady Bears in the paint, scoring eight points compared to the Lady Bears’ six down low.
Sloppy passing and missed looks from the Lady Bears hindered their ability to extend their lead. The Lady Bears entered halftime with a 27-15 lead.
The Lady Bears held the conference leading scorer senior guard Brittney Martin to zero points in the first half.
“In the first half, [Alexis] Prince set the tone for us,” head coach Kim Mulkey said.”When you can hold Brittney Martin to zero points, I don’t know if anybody has done that.” Mulkey said. “I just have to compliment Prince.”
Junior guard Alexis Jones, with nine points and three assists in the first half, made her presence felt on the court for the Lady Bears.
“I think I am a lot more comfortable,” Jones said. “Also the team chemistry has been clicking. It’s a good feeling to know this team is getting better each and every game.”
Coming back from the break, the Cowgirls were able to get within eight points but two three’s by Jones put the Lady Bears back up 12.
Leading by as many as 16 in the first half, the Cowgirls cut the Lady Bears’ lead down to four with just over a minute remaining in the third.
“I think, one, you have to give Oklahoma State credit for their defense. I thought we went through a spell there that we didn’t score, and I think that contributed to their defense,” Mulkey said.
With junior guard Nina Davis capitalizing on an and-one to put the crowd on their feet, it gave the Lady Bears a needed push.
Two made shots by Johnson with just seconds remaining in the third put the Lady Bears up 44-33 going into the final period.
“To gain the momentum, it was just something we needed,” Johnson said. “I told our team to keep fighting and we did.”
Consecutive layups by Davis, sophomore guard Kristy Wallace and junior guard Alexis Prince put the Lady Bears up 50-35 with 7:50 remaining in the period.
With the crowd on their feet the Lady Bears were able to extend their lead and take the game, 66-41.
“Well, I didn’t have to do much motivating,” Mulkey said. “I just think having our entire team healthy; you can’t go to battle with some of your players not playing. We held two teams in a row to 41 and 36 points, that’s tough to do.”
The Lady Bears play at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Ferrell Center against Iowa State.