By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer, Video by Drake Toll | Broadcast Reporter
No. 2 Baylor women’s basketball ran the Cardinals out of the Ferrell Center with a 90-28 win Thursday night. The win saw four players in double-digits, the fourth-highest field goal percentage in the program’s history (67.9%) and a defensive clinic to boot.
The Lady Bears struggled to start, allowing Lamar to jump out to a 5-4 lead before rattling off 16 straight to close the first quarter. Baylor’s sophomore frontcourt of NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo led the team on their hot streak with 17 points and eight rebounds combined.
The second quarter was a defensive struggle for both squads, as the two teams combined for as many points as Baylor’s frontcourt had in the first. Graduate transfer center Erin DeGrate dominated off the bench and led all scoring with eight points, scoring more than the six that the entire Cardinal squad managed. Head coach Kim Mulkey said the scoring drought was the result of turnovers given up by the Lady Bears.
“That’s what I kept telling them in the timeouts, ‘You know, you’re going to cost your team a game if you turn the ball over in a game like this, and I’ve put you in as a sub,’” Mulkey said. “The turnovers just bothered me in the second quarter, but you let them play through it. In a big game, I wouldn’t let them play through it.”
The Lady Bears’ offense erupted in the third quarter, pumping out 30 points compared to their opponents’ six. Graduate transfer guard Te’a Cooper and Smith each scored nine in their 10 minutes on the court, while Egbo added five rebounds, a block and two steals across the 24-point scoring margin.
The fourth quarter was another rough stretch for the Cardinals, as they failed to score a field goal until the 2:42 mark. The offense for the second unit started to pick up this time, rattling off 21 points over the final frame. DeGrate once again stole the show, scoring 11 in her second time on the court.
Baylor obliterated Lamar in nearly every category Thursday. The Green and Gold led in rebounds (45-12), assists (26-2), blocks (8-0), field goal % (68-18), points in the paint (54-12), points off of turnovers (24-6) and points off the bench (36-8). The Lady Bears held the Cardinals to the lowest opponent score so far this season as well. Mulkey said junior guard DiDi Richards starred on defense tonight.
“She can play four positions on the floor for us. Four,” Mulkey said. “And then she has to go guard four positions if I need her to do that. You just can’t take her off the floor. She’s just one of those kids that makes everybody else play harder.”
The Lady Bears now head off to the beaches of St. Thomas for one of the biggest pre-conference invitationals in the country. Egbo said she’s excited for the trip to find out all she can about this team.
“[I’m looking forward to] bonding with my teammates, but most importantly experience and growing as a player,” Egbo said. “Some tendencies you have don’t get drawn to your attention until you play big-time teams, so I’m just ready to see what those might be.”
Baylor will get back to work at 4:45 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. Virgin Island Paradise Jam against Washington State.