By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor women’s basketball has a new streak going. After a sad end to their 61 straight home wins, the Lady Bears smoked Oklahoma 84-61 on Saturday, setting the new streak at one.
Spearheading Baylor’s effort were senior guards Moon Ursin and DiDi Richards, along with junior forward NaLyssa Smith. Ursin scored 14 points and snagged 11 rebounds, while Richards handed out 12 assists. Smith led the Lady Bears in scoring at 21 points. Baylor’s performance, while impressive, was also efficient, hitting 59% of their field goal attempts. Ursin’s double-double was the latest in a string of strong performances.
“I’m just playing basketball now,” Ursin said. “I’m older and I learned a lot being in the program for four years now. It’s just starting to come to me, I’m allowing the game to come to me. I had to be patient, my turn is here and I’m not gonna waste it.”
The first quarter started out strong for Baylor, but would end up being hotly contested. The Lady Bears jumped out to a 6-2 lead, led by six points and three rebounds from Ursin and another six points from junior center Queen Egbo. Baylor had their way on the inside, scoring 14 of their 20 points in the painted area. All those points at the rim led to a high shooting percentage for the nation’s No. 9 team, as Baylor shot 53 percent from the field in the opening quarter. After a pair of free throws, Baylor took a lead to end the quarter 20-18.
The Baylor defense showed up in a big way in the second, allowing just five points to the Sooners, while scoring 25 of their own. Smith and Ursin led the charge for the Lady Bears again, scoring eight and six points in the quarter, respectively. Though playing out of the guard spot, Ursin had her way on the glass, grabbing four boards in the second. Baylor’s hot shooting carried over from the first quarter and then some, as the Lady Bears hit over 73% of their shots from the field. At the half, Baylor led 45-23.
“In the second quarter, I would have to start with defense,” said head coach Kim Mulkey. “They started out hot and [Taylor] Robertson and [Madi] Williams are volume shooters, they’re just going to keep shooting the ball for them. So we just have to wear them down and hope they miss more than they make and I thought that started to happen in the second quarter.”
Baylor opened the second half in explosive fashion, outsourcing Oklahoma 27-21 in the third quarter. Freshman guard Sarah Andrews stepped up for the Lady Bears, scoring seven points in just five minutes of play. Richards showed out in another part of the box score, dealing out five assists in just the third quarter.
In comparison, no Oklahoma player had that many assists in the game’s first three quarters combined. A 7-0 run early in the third helped keep Baylor well out of the Sooners’ reach. Heading into the fourth, Baylor led 72-44. Richards’ night passing the ball was a career best, thanks in part to the skill of her coach and teammates.
“Coach Mulkey does a really good job at putting me in positions to hit open players,” Richards said. “So, it’s the different plays that coach Mulkey draws up and it’s so easy to have Moon, Lyss, Queen, Hannah [Gusters], Sarah [Andrews]…the list goes on.”
The fourth quarter was much the same as its three predecessors. This time, it was Baylor’s depth that made the difference. The starters left the court, but the second unit came through for the Lady Bears. Freshman center Hannah Gusters was perfect from the floor in the fourth, and also brought in a rebound. While the Sooners did outscore Baylor 17-12 in the quarter, it wasn’t enough to overcome the Lady Bears’ sizable lead. As the clock ran down, Baylor found themselves the victors. As depth goes, Mulkey knows the Lady Bears have a variety of threats from anywhere on the floor.
“When everybody is contributing we’re very hard to guard,” Mulkey said. “I think that as the season continues if we can continue to get perimeter production it makes everybody’s job easier.”
Baylor’s next game is set for Tuesday at 7 p.m., when in-state rival TCU comes to the Ferrell Center for their second showdown with the Lady Bears. The game will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.