By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor returned from a one-game road trip to blast Kansas 83-50 Thursday night in the Ferrell Center. This win was the Lady Bears’ fourth in a row and is tied for the largest margin of victory during that streak.
Baylor got their scoring from a variety of sources, with three players scoring 16 or more points. Junior forward NaLyssa Smith scored 17 points to go with 10 rebounds, senior guard Moon Ursin put 16 points on the board and graduate guard DiJonai Carrington added 17 points of her own. With contributions coming from so many places, it was hard for head coach Kim Mulkey to find much fault with the box score.
“You potentially could’ve had three of them with double-doubles,” Mulkey said. “Four if Carrington had gotten three more rebounds, so that’s good production from those players.”
The Lady Bears started out hot in the opening quarter, going on an 8-0 run from the jump. Junior center Queen Egbo was responsible for a lot of that run, scoring Baylor’s first six points. That 8-0 run would match the Jayhawks’ scoring total for the entire quarter. The Lady Bear defense held Kansas to 22% shooting from the field, with just one Jayhawk player shooting better than 25% in the first. Buckets from Moon Ursin and junior forward Catilin Bickle, paired with a charity stripe shot from Carrington created a 5-1 run to close the quarter, and sent Baylor to the second up 21-8.
Baylor came out fast in the second quarter too, but that didn’t tell the story of the whole period. Kansas would actually outscore Baylor in the second, 20-17. The Lady Bears struggled offensively, only hitting 27.8% of their field goal attempts, while Kansas converted over 61%. The Jayhawks got hot from beyond the arc too, hitting every one of their triples in the second. Kansas’ top two scorers also matched or surpassed all of Baylor’s top three scorers. Despite their struggles in the second, Baylor still took a lead to the half, 38-28. Even with the lead, Mulkey knew her team was capable of more.
“We knew that coming in that Kansas was not going to look at the scoreboard and stop playing,” Mulkey said. “[We had a] 15-point lead or so, and we didn’t extend it. I as a coach can accept some of that because I subbed a lot early. Maybe so, maybe not so, but I know that we didn’t finish the half like we need to to be a really good basketball team.”
The start of the second half swung back Baylor’s way, kicking off with a 19-4 Lady Bear run. Carrington carried the load for this tear, scoring eight consecutive points. The quarter at large was Carrington’s too, as she matched Kansas’ total points in the third. Alongside Carrington, Smith had four points and six rebounds, and Ursin had another five points. The explosive start to the half helped stretch the Baylor lead, as the Lady Bears went to the fourth up 63-38. Smith has had some strong rebounding performances recently, and she attributes some of that to the team’s competitive nature.
“Everybody competes in practice,” Smith said. “[Coach Mulkey] stresses so many times that we need to rebound on the offensive end, so I guess it is a competition to see who can get the most [rebounds].”
The fourth quarter was a similar story to the third with the Lady Bears going on a 10-2 run in the middle of the quarter. Baylor got contributions from all over in the fourth, with seven players scoring in the closing period. Defense was another point of emphasis, holding Kansas to under 27% from the field and 14% from three.
The Lady Bears will be back in action on Sunday, as they head to the Little Apple in Manhattan, Kan. for a showdown with Kansas State. The contest is set for 1 p.m. on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.