Shorthanded Lady Bears fall to Iowa State

Baylor guard Moon Ursin, center, drives between Iowa State guard Lexi Donarski, left, and teammate guard Ashley Joens, right, in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021, in Waco, Texas. (Rod Aydelotte/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer

The No. 6 Baylor women’s basketball team lost its second game of the season on Saturday, falling 75-71 to Big 12 rival Iowa State.

“Our offense was the problem tonight. I’d have to go back and look at the film. How many layups did we miss? How many offensive rebounds did we miss tonight?” head coach Kim Mulkey said. “We’ve got to all get together at some point. Not sure when we’ll get there but we’ll get there.”

The loss was Baylor’s first game since Jan. 2 and the Lady Bears had only one practice prior to facing the Cyclones after having to halt activity due to COVID-19 precautions. Baylor was also without two of its best perimeter shooters in DiJonai Carrington and Caitlin Bickle.

Baylor was led by versatile contributions against ISU from guard DiDi Richards (eight points, four rebounds, 10 assists, three steals) and forward NaLyssa Smith (14 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, three blocks). As a team, Baylor shot an abnormally low percentage from the field and the free throw line. The Lady Bears were good on 31 of their 77 shots from the floor, and five of their 11 shots at the line.

The first quarter was a slow one for the Lady Bears. After the first frame, Baylor trailed 23-12. Baylor failed to make a three in the quarter, and went without an attempt from the free throw line. From the field, the Lady Bears shot just 30%, well below their standard mark of 49%. The Cyclones, on the other hand, had no such struggles. Iowa State hit three shots from beyond the arc, and made both their free throw attempts. The Cyclones also out-rebounded the Lady Bears, 14-10. Richards led the way for Baylor after one, with six points, a rebound and two assists. For a team as successful as Baylor, trailing at any point can be a bit of a surprise.

“It was a bit of a shock,” said senior guard Moon Ursin. “We haven’t practiced in a week… We knew we had to stay in the game as best we could.”

The second quarter was much stronger for Baylor. Forward Queen Egbo and guard Jaden Owens each posted seven points in the period, while Smith contributed in a number of ways with five points, five rebounds and a pair of blocks. A 12-0 run to open the quarter gave the Lady Bears a one point lead. The quarter from that point continued to be competitive, with the lead trading hands twice. The Cyclones hot shooting cooled off somewhat in the second, only hitting one of their eight three point attempts. At the half Iowa State led 34-33.

The third quarter was another battle, with both teams trading buckets for the majority of the frame. Iowa State guard Emily Ryan put up 11 points in the quarter to help the Cyclones hold the lead. For Baylor, Ursin took the lead in the penultimate frame, scoring eight points while also dishing out a pair of assists and blocking a shot. Baylor shot 41% or lower from both the field and the free throw line, and a rough 1-7 shooting stretch sent the Lady Bears into the fourth down 56-50.

Baylor won the scoring battle in the fourth quarter, but it wasn’t enough. The Lady Bears failed to get to the line in the fourth, while Iowa State converted six of their seven shots from the charity stripe. ISU guard Ashley Joens poured in 14 points in the final quarter to help the Cyclones hold the lead. Trinity Oliver led the way for Baylor in the quarter, scoring six points and grabbing two rebounds. Despite the loss, Mulkey did see positives in the fourth.

“Trinity Oliver gives you big rebounds. She got two offensive rebounds late,” said Mulkey. “I was looking for someone to give us a spark and that’s what we got.”

The Lady Bears will return to the court Wednesday in Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State. That game is slated for 6:30 pm on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.