Lady Bears knock off K-State, celebrate Big 12 championship

By Pranay Malempati | Sports Writer, Video by Drake Toll | Broadcast Reporter

No. 2 Baylor women’s basketball beat Kansas State at home Saturday night by a score of 83-58. The win improved the team’s record to 27-1 overall as well as 16-0 in the Big 12, keeping the Lady Bears undefeated in conference play.

After the game, Baylor celebrated its 10th straight Big 12 championship. The Lady Bears clinched a share of the Big 12 after their win over West Virginia last Saturday, and claimed the conference outright after TCU’s loss to Texas on Wednesday.

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said even though the team has won the Big 12 so many times, celebrating the conference championship and cutting the nets down is always a joyful experience.

“Absolutely it’s fun,” Mulkey said. “It’s fun for the fans, it’s fun for the newcomers and the kids who’ve never done that, but it’s also fun for those of us who have. That’s what you play for.”

“I thought it would be better to do [the celebration] on Saturday,” Mulkey said, “than in the locker room the next day.”

Baylor’s first game against Kansas State this season, in early February, was a tightly-contested defensive game. This time around, the Lady Bears put the game away in the second quarter.

After ending the first quarter with a 21-12 lead, Baylor outscored K-State 23-6 in the second, holding the Wildcats to just three made baskets in the period. After holding that 44-18 lead at the half, the Lady Bears stayed in control for the remainder of the game.

Baylor had two players with not just double-doubles, but 20-point, 10-rebound games against K-State. Sophomore forward NaLyssa Smith led the team in scoring with 23 points and added 13 rebounds, while senior forward Lauren Cox dropped 22 points along with 10 boards and three assists.

Junior guard Didi Richards had a great all-around game as well, with six points, 10 assists and six rebounds.

Defensively, Baylor was as good as it has been all season. The Lady Bears held K-State to just 36.8 percent shooting from the field and 27.8 percent from beyond the arc.

Baylor is hitting the home stretch of the season, with just two regular season games left. In a couple of weeks, the Lady Bears will play in the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo. before getting ready for the NCAA tournament in late March.

Mulkey said she thinks the team is developing into the best version of itself at the right time of the season.

“I think we’re getting [to our best],” Mulkey said. “Knock on wood, we’re healthy right now. You see NaLyssa Smith starting to relax a bit with her ankle, we’re shooting the ball good, and it’s the time of year to do it.”

The Lady Bears next play at 7:30 p.m. Thursday in the Ferrell Center against Texas in their final home game of the regular season.