By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
After a down game against Iowa State, Baylor bounced back with a 77-58 win over a strong Oklahoma State team.
The Lady Bears got production from a number of players, including senior guard Moon Ursin, junior forward NaLyssa Smith and senior guard DiDi Richards. Usrin poured in 20 points to go along with eight rebounds. Smith scored 18 points of her own, and dominated the backboards, hauling in 12 rebounds. Richards continued her versatile contributions, scoring 11 points, grabbing six rebounds and dishing out seven assists. The performance of the three upperclassmen was key in righting the ship after a loss.
“You have got to be ready when opportunity knocks,” said head coach Kim Mulkey. “So who do you rely on? Most coaches rely on the most experienced players in their lineup. I thought that NaLyssa might’ve had one of her finest games this year.”
Baylor started out strong in the first quarter, never trailing to or drawing even with Oklahoma State. A 6-0 run early in the period led by Smith and Ursin helped push the Baylor lead to seven. Smith and Ursin were the driving force for the Lady Bears in the opening frame, scoring six and five points, respectively. Additionally, Smith and Ursin each pulled in three rebounds, contributing to Baylor’s 13-8 edge on the glass. Despite shooting just over 36 percent from the floor, Baylor finished the quarter with a 14-8 advantage. The hot start was something the Lady Bears had certainly lacked in their last game, but Ursin and the team knew how important it was to jump out in front.
“It was huge. That gets our motor going,” Ursin said. “That allows us to get into the flow a little bit and just have fun. Once we settled and got comfortable, that’s when we went on [a] run.”
The Lady Bears extended the lead further in the second quarter, buoyed by 11 points from Ursin, four from Smith and another four from Richards. Ursin’s quarter was particularly impressive, as the quarter alone would have been her fifth highest scoring game of the season. At halftime, she led the game with 16 points in 20 minutes. Baylor outshot the Cowgirls from everywhere on the floor, including at the line. The Lady Bears continued to dominate the glass, heading to the half with 10 more boards than OSU. After two, Baylor led 37-23. At the half, Mulkey was especially impressed with Ursin.
“Moon, I could’ve kept her in there to get her career high,” Mulkey said. “She gave everything she had. She was our second leading rebounder.”
Baylor opened the third quarter on a tear, starting with a 10-0 run to push the lead to 24. From that point, the teams traded buckets, but the Lady Bears weren’t about to let Oklahoma State back into it. Smith continued her strong game, adding another six points and three rebounds, while redshirt junior guard Trinity Oliver added four points, two rebounds and an assist. After another strong quarter, Baylor went to the final frame up 54-39.
The game’s closing period only solidified what the first three had suggested – OSU was outgunned. Freshman center Hannah Gusters led the final charge for the Lady Bears, putting up six points in just six minutes in the quarter. A few last-minute free throws cut down on the lead, but it wasn’t enough to keep it close as Baylor won 77-58.
The Lady Bears will be back on the floor Saturday to bring the Oklahoma Sooners to the Ferrell Center. The game is set for 7 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.