No. 7 Lady Bears dominate Tech in Big 12 home opener

Texas Tech guard Vivian Gray (12) battles the Baylor defense during an NCAA basketball game on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Brandon Wade)

By Harper mayfield | Sports Writer

Baylor women’s basketball put on a dominant showing against Texas Tech, beating the Lady Raiders 91-45 Monday night at the Ferrell Center. The win pushes Baylor’s home winning streak to 58 games, the longest in the nation.

The win is Baylor’s second consecutive victory, following the team’s win over West Virginia on Dec. 10. It was also Baylor’s largest margin of victory on the year, at 46 points. Leading the Lady Bears was junior forward NaLyssa Smith with 21 points and nine rebounds. Other statistical standouts included transfer guard DiJonai Carrington, who finished with 13 points, and sophomore guard Jordyn Oliver, who finished with eight points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Head coach Kim Mulkey thought several Lady Bears played their best game of the season.

“I thought our rebounding was significant tonight,” Mulkey said. “The challenge I gave to NaLyssa Smith, DiDi [Richards] and Moon [Ursin] defensively on those three scoring guards, they accepted it. I’m as proud of what they did on the defensive end as I am of what they did offensively.”

The Texas Tech offense has the potential to be a lethal one, but Baylor’s nationally renowned defense was able to keep the Lady Raider’s high-level scorers in check.

“They have three of the best scoring players in our conference,” Mulkey said. “Vivian Gray transferred there, all-conference player from Oklahoma State, and then you add [Chrislyn Carr and Lexi Gordon] to the mix. Those are three kids who can flat out score the basketball.”

The Lady Bears were able to lock down Tech, as only Gray scored in double figures. Carr and Gordon added seven and eight points, respectively.

Baylor was dominant from the tip, but the first quarter was the game’s most competitive. Tech had a lead twice in the quarter, the only two times that would happen for the Lady Raiders all game. With just over four minutes remaining in the quarter, Tech led 8-7, but Baylor was all but deterred, going on a 13-3 run to close the quarter with a 20-11 lead.

Baylor opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run, stretching the lead to 16. A 9-0 run later in the quarter would extend the Baylor lead even further. Smith led the Lady Bears in second quarter scoring with five points, while junior forward Caitlin Bickle added four rebounds, two assists and a blocked shot. The Lady Bears went into halftime with a 40-23 lead.

The Baylor dominance continued in the third, buoyed by 10 points and four rebounds from Smith, and four points and five rebounds from junior center Queen Egbo. The Lady Bears dominated in the post, scoring 14 of the team’s total 24 points in the paint. Six of those 14 came off second chance points, which came by way of Baylor’s five offensive rebounds. Baylor ended the third with a 64-36 lead.

Entering the final quarter with a 28 point lead, the Lady Bears could’ve taken their foot off the gas, but kept pushing. A 21-2 run to open the quarter extended the lead to 47. Tech wouldn’t come much closer, only cutting one point into the deficit. Redshirt junior Trinity Oliver closed strong for the Lady Bears with six points and three rebounds, while Jordyn Oliver posted five points, four rebounds and four assists. Jordyn Oliver said she feels the young players on the roster are beginning to find their footing.

“I feel like we found our groove, just over time we’re going to keep getting more and more comfortable,” Oliver said. “I think it’s only game five, like Coach always says, so over time we’re just going to keep getting more and more comfortable.”

Baylor will be back on the court on Wednesday, as they welcome Southern to Ferrell Center at 2:00 p.m. The game will air on Big 12 Now and ESPN+.