Story by Adam Gibson | Sports Writer, Video by Noah Torr | Broadcast Reporter
No. 4-ranked Baylor women’s basketball tipped off the the regular season by taking out Nicholls State 100-39 on Tuesday at the Ferrell Center.
After cruising through their two exhibition games by beating their opponents by an average of 65.5 points, the Lady Bears got the regular season started with another big win. Head coach Kim Mulkey said she already saw progress from how the team performed in the exhibition games.
“We got out quickly, I think we shot 71 percent that first quarter and then the new ones and kids that didn’t get a lot of minutes late in the year last year, they came out and were confident,” Mulkey said. “Moon [Ursin] is an example of that. We’ve got a lot of talent and we’ve got a lot of them that want to shoot the ball, but I thought our help side defense was better. I thought we moved our feet better, we focused on that all week and we did a lot of things better on the defensive end.”
Junior Forward Lauren Cox grabbed the tip to get the game started. Senior center Kalani Brown scored the first points of the game after being fouled, taking an early lead 2-0. Baylor jumped out to a 10-0 lead scoring on 4-of-6 field goals with seven minutes to go in the quarter.
Through the first time out, Baylor had complete control of the game as Nicholls state missed all seven of its shot attempts as it was still looking to find its first points of the game. Brown lead the Bears in points with six, making all of her attempts.
The first points outside of the paint came from freshman guard Honesty-Scott Grayson who sunk the first three-pointer of the game giving the Lady Bears a 24-0 lead. Nicholls State responded with its own first points of the game and after going 0-7 on field goals, senior guard Cassidy Barrios knocked down the first points of the game.
At the end of the first quarter, Baylor held a 28-5 lead of Nicholls State and controlled the paint on both ends of the court with 10 rebounds and 20 points.
The Lady Bears found the three-point game in the second quarter, scoring three more with sophomore guard Moon Ursin making both of her attempts. Ursin said one thing she has been working on is shooting more and with the help of her teammates, she was able to do that tonight.
“Coach has been telling me in practice to shoot the ball, my teammates have been encouraging me a lot to shoot the ball. It’s different from last year,” Ursin said. “I’m trying to be more confident day-by-day, just taking it one shot at a time so tonight I was open, my teammates found me on the perimeter and I saw one fall down, I saw the second one fall and after that, I saw the third one and it just felt good to be able to knock those shots down.”
Barrios made the first three-pointer for Nicholls State and led the scoring for both teams with 10 points and just over four minutes remaining.
At half, Baylor had a lead of 54-19 shooting 62.9 percent from the field and 55.6 percent from behind the arc. The Lady Bears defense was a problem for Nicholls State as it was held to 30.4 percent shooting from the field with three of its shots being blocked.
The Lady Bears did not let up on the shooting in the second half, shooting 58.8 percent. Freshman forward Caitlin Bickle came off the bench to lead the team in second half scoring going 4-for-5 for 12 points while making 2-of-3 from three-point territory. The entire bench played a big role in the game, scoring 53 of the points for Baylor and Brown said having that reliability on the bench to come out and pick up where the starters left off pushes the team to succeed.
“Our bench is very important,” Brown said. “For them to come out and contribute was amazing. I was impressed with our freshman. To be able to rotate any five, it’s kind of scary what we really can do when we get all together and get working.”
Baylor closed out the game leading in just about every category including having 64 points in the paint, and 48 rebounds compared to 25 from Nicholls State. By controlling the boards, the Lady Bears controlled the tempo and scoring to lead the entire game. Brown said even though there are several young faces on the team, tonight showed how well the team can already play together.
“I like games like that,” Brown said. “We were all gelling and our team chemistry is just as great as it was last year I thought, and it took us a long way and I think this year it’ll take us a long way too. To see that unselfishness, it goes a long way.”
The Lady Bears hit the court next at 7p.m. Thursday at the Ferrell Center as they take on Saint Francis.