Lady Bears drop first game of the season to South Carolina

Graduated guard Te'a Cooper attempts a layup during Baylor's 90-28 win over Lamar on Nov. 21 at the Ferrell Center. Cooper faced her former squad, South Carolina Saturday night in the final game of the Virgin Islands Paradise Jam. Cole Tompkins | Multimedia Editor

By Matthew Soderberg | Sports Writer

No. 2 Baylor women’s basketball dropped their first game of the season Saturday to No. 5 South Carolina. The 74-59 loss marks the end of the Lady Bears’ 36-game win streak.

Despite a plus-10 margin in turnovers, Baylor was unable to hold the Gamecocks down on defense, giving up a season-high 52.8% from the field. The 74 opposing points scored were also the most the Lady Bears have given up this season.

South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston and Tyasha Harris led the game in scoring, supplying 20 points each along with 13 rebounds for Boston and seven assists for Harris. Three South Carolina players grabbed at least two steals, and two earned two or more blocks.

Sophomore forward NaLyssa Smith led the Lady Bears with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guards Te’a Cooper and Juicy Landrum each scored 10, combining for seven rebounds and seven assists as well.

Cooper was also the culprit of six of Baylor’s nine turnovers, registering a 0.5 assist to turnover ratio. The Lady Bears bigs also struggled with foul trouble Saturday, with Smith, sophomore forward Caitlin Bickle and sophomore center Queen Egbo each committing four personals. The early issues for Egbo forced her to play the lowest minute count (14) of the season. It was also the first time this season she’s been held out of double-digits in scoring.

The Lady Bears started strong, holding the lead for the first eight minutes of the matchup. Then the Gamecocks’ offense kicked into gear, and Baylor couldn’t keep up with their off night at the rim. The reigning national champions registered their best shooting quarter in the opening frame, but they never shot better than 40% over any 10-minute stretch.

South Carolina, meanwhile, never shot worse than 38%. They shot 8-12 from the field and 7-10 from the line in the fourth quarter, whereas the Lady Bears were 5-17 from the field and didn’t take a single free throw.

Baylor now heads back to Waco for a spread out three-game homestand starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Ferrell Center against unranked Georgia. The game will be streamed on ESPN+ through the ESPN app.