By Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer
No. 1-ranked Baylor women’s basketball went undefeated in the Big 12 regular season for the second year in a row and the fourth time in school history, avoiding a near upset from the West Virginia Mountaineers 61-57 on Monday in Morgantown, W. Va.
With their 35th straight Big 12 road win, the Lady Bears finished the Big 12 regular season 18-0. Baylor went undefeated in conference play in 2012 and 2013 in addition to the past two years.
Only two other teams have gone unbeaten in Big 12 play: Oklahoma in 2006 and Nebraska in 2010.
In the win over the Mountaineers, the Lady Bears were led by junior forward Lauren Cox with a double-double game, notching 22 points (7-for-10 on field goals, 7-for-8 on free throws), and 10 rebounds.
The Mountaineers had three double-digit scorers. Forward Naomi Davenport led WVU with 17 points, 3-for-6 on 3-pointers, and 13 rebounds.
Both teams opened the game unable to score. By mid-quarter Baylor was on an 8-0 scoring streak, as the Mountaineers were shooting at a 13 percent field goal rate (1-for-8). By the end of the first quarter, all 11 of the Mountaineers’ points came from Lady Bear mistakes, including nine points from turnovers and two from foul shots.
Cox opened the second quarter with a quick jumper within the first minute to bring the score to 17-11. The two teams continued to struggle offensively as the fight for the stronger defense battled out. Both teams continued to struggle with turnovers as neither team gained a clear advantage.
With two minutes left in the half, the game was within four points, but Baylor began gaining offensive momentum with four late points from freshman center Queen Egbo. The lead grew 31-23 by the break.
Coming out of the break, Mountaineer sparks of offense began to develop, outscoring the Lady Bears 8-7 by mid-quarter to bring the game to 38-31. Both teams went into two-minute scoring droughts until a jumper from senior center Kalani Brown led the start of a 6-0 run. The Mountaineers countered with a 7-0 run.
By the fourth, the Lady Bears still didn’t have an edge and struggled on both sides of the ball. Holding Baylor to a scoring average of 15 points per quarter and a 31 second-half field goal percentage, the Mountaineers were in the game 44-38.
WVU held the Lady Bears to a 1-for-6 on field goals in the first five minutes of the fourth, meanwhile converting 2-of-5, to bring the matchup back to a four-point game. The end of the game became a fouling battle and Baylor held on for the 61-57 win.
Baylor will compete in the Big 12 Tournament starting Saturday in Oklahoma City.