By Harper Mayfield | Sports Writer
Baylor women’s basketball was back on the road this week, getting a 64-52 win over Kansas State Sunday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum in Manhattan, Kan.
The Lady Bears were led by junior forward NaLyssa Smith, senior guard Moon Ursin and graduate guard DiJonai Carrington. Smith led Baylor with 17 points and eight rebounds while Ursin and Carrington combined for six three-pointers to notch 16 points each.
Although the game was closer than many of Baylor’s contests to this point, Baylor did outclass K-State in a number of areas. The Lady Bear second unit was a force, scoring 21 points to the Wildcats’ eight. Additionally, Baylor found success when the game sped up, scoring eight points on the fast break while allowing K-State to score none. The team’s dominance in those areas gave head coach Kim Mulkey confidence that the game was always well in hand.
“I thought we were in control of the game start to finish,” Mulkey said. “I never felt like the momentum swung. They hit some buckets, things like that, they got some threes on second chance points but I felt like we controlled the game.”
The first quarter didn’t necessarily start with that kind of control, as Baylor trailed with four minutes and 23 seconds left in the period. Not to be denied, Smith, Ursin and Carrington orchestrated a 7-0 run to give the Lady Bears an edge. Despite their strong close to the quarter, Baylor did struggle from beyond the arc, hitting just one of four attempts. As luck would have it, K-State converted an even lower percentage of their three point attempts, clocking in at 20%. At the end of one, Baylor led 16-11.
The second quarter played much more to Baylor’s liking. The Lady Bears shot better than 50% from everywhere on the floor. The teams traded baskets for most of the quarter, but the Baylor bench came through in a big way. Junior forward Caitlin Bickle connected on a pair of threes in the second and helped Baylor extend its lead. In the second, the Lady Bear bench poured in 13 points, more than triple that of the Wildcat second unit. Behind a strong performance from the reserves, Baylor took a 37-26 lead into halftime.
In the third, Carrington kicked off an early 7-0 run for Baylor. Her excellent shooting from deep was a big part of Baylor’s ability to score against the Wildcats’ zone defense. In the third alone, Carrington had five points and an assist, a testament to her quick return from COVID-19 issues. As for her shooting, Carrington credits a renewed confidence.
“If you shoot a lot you’re going to make a lot,” Carrington said. “I think it’s just confidence, and playing free, and playing within myself, letting it come to me. Trying not to force…just trying to be comfortable and give my team what we need in that game.”
The final quarter saw the teams trade scores heading towards the final buzzer. Even with a comfortable margin on the scoreboard, Baylor didn’t take their foot off the gas. The Lady Bears were still aggressive in driving to the basket, scoring six points in the paint and earning five free throw attempts. That aggression helped keep Baylor in front, finishing K-State off 64-52 to move to 14-2 on the season and 9-1 in the Big 12.
The Lady Bears will see the floor again at 6 p.m. Wednesday, as they continue their road trip with a stop in Lubbock to take on Texas Tech. The game will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.