Story by Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer, Video by Noah Torr | Executive Producer
The No. 2-ranked Baylor women’s basketball team advanced to 15-1 (5-0) and notched its 27th consecutive win versus a Big 12 opponent Sunday afternoon with a 79-47 win over West Virginia.
The Lady Bears began the game with a slow start. With four lead changes and three ties throughout the first quarter, the matchup seemed to be even. The Mountaineers led or were tied with the Lady Bears for the majority of the first quarter — until the last minute when Baylor grasped and held a lead of five points. Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said they just needed some time to settle into their game plan.
“We needed to settle down a little bit and just execute,” coach Mulkey said. “I think that sometimes we think we’re just going to make one pass and score. Against good teams, you’re going to have to have good ball reversal, and going to have to be patient. We just relaxed and started doing what we’ve been doing all year. Just give ourselves good looks, good shots.”
Though West Virginia was down 18-13 entering the second quarter, the Mountaineers looked to be holding up against Baylor’s offense. Momentum began to grow for the Bears notably through their success and dominance in rebounds and 57 percent shot completion compared to West Virginia’s 30 percent.
By the half, Baylor’s senior center Kalani Brown led the team with 15 points. West Virginia head coach Mike Carey said the the Lady Bears dominated the Mountaineers in the paint.
“They just started pounding us in the paint,” Carey said. “We were coming down and taking threes instead of executing. Then we weren’t hitting them in the second quarter. You’re not going to beat Baylor by standing out and shooting threes. You got to go inside-out and you got to penetrate.”
The Lady Bears dominated the second quarter and created a 23 point lead to go into the second half.
Frustration began to mount for the West Virginia Mountaineers as penalties and turnovers grew and the Lady Bears offense capitalized off of the mistakes. With no points coming off West Virginia’s turnovers in the first half, turnovers counted for 9 of the Lady Bears 14 points in the third quarter.
Though Baylor was on top entering the fourth quarter (59-37), the Mountaineers began to attack with a quickened pace causing confusion for the Lady Bears who took two timeouts within two plays early in the fourth.
Even with sparks of momentum, including dominating Baylor in 3-pointers throughout the game, West Virginia struggled to comeback and stop the explosive Baylor offense. Baylor maintained a 22-point differential the majority of the first half of the fourth quarter, before it grew to over 30-points in the last two minutes of the game. Carey said he was disappointed in his team’s ability to hang with Baylor.
“We faded away, and they’re too big to fade away. We didn’t pound the offense boards, they pounded it on us,” Carey said. “I’m just disappointed. I just thought we’d come in and play a lot better […] Baylor is as good as anybody I’ve seen. It wouldn’t surprise me if they didn’t go on and win the championship. They’re that deep in the paint.”
With West Virginia being held to zero field goals within the last 6:12 of the game and the Lady Bears maintaining a complete shooting average of 50 percent throughout the matchup, Baylor secured a 79-47 win.
Even with an impressive win streak, and a hopeful season continuing to develop, Mulkey was sure to emphasize remaining humble moving forward.
“Though we are appreciative and humbled by [Carey’s] comments, we’re going to keep working,” Mulkey said. “We’re not entitled to anything. We have to work for everything we get.”
The Baylor Lady Bears are back at home at 7 p.m. Wednesday to play Iowa State the Ferrell Center.