Baylor basketball shows new-look offense in win over Texas A&M-Commerce

Sophomore guard Sarah Andrews knocks down a three in an exhibition match against Texas A&M-Commerce on Oct. 27 in the Ferrell Center. Andrews went a perfect 5-5 from the beyond the arc. Brittany Tankersley | Photographer

By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor

In their first outing under head coach Nicki Collen, Baylor women’s basketball dominated Texas A&M University-Commerce on both sides of the ball in an exhibition game Wednesday night in the Ferrell Center, winning 88-52.

Collen said she used the game as an opportunity to try out new things and see what her team could do.

“Almost every timeout, I drew up something they haven’t seen before,” Collen said. “Someone gets this tape and they think that some of those are plays, they’re not, they’re not in our playbook yet. I want to know if they can see a diagram [and] execute coming out.”

The team responded, as both senior forward NaLyssa Smith and senior center Queen Egbo notched double-doubles. Smith filled up the stat sheet, finishing the game with 27 points and 15 rebounds while also dishing out four assists to go along with three steals and a block. Egbo put up 15 points and 10 rebounds while locking down the paint with four blocks and a steal.

Collen’s new spread out offense was on full display as the Bears attempted 23 shots beyond the arc, knocking down 10 of them to shoot 43.5% from the three-point line.

“I don’t think that’s a bad number; I mean, you’re talking about a third of our shots being threes. I think that’s realistic,” Collen said. “We’re going to shoot threes. I mean, you saw why, Ja’Mee [Asberry] can shoot it, Jordan [Lewis] can shoot it and Sarah [Andrews] can shoot it. So you know we have to be able to balance the floor for Queen [Egbo] and Liz [Smith].”

Sophomore guard Sarah Andrews led the team in three-point shooting, draining all five of her attempts from the deep to help her finish with 17 points.

“I just came out ready,” Andrews said. “The work I put in before, I know that I got a nice stroke and my teammates found me in the right spot tonight, and they really helped me get the ball off.”

Smith said she loves having a team full of shooters because she knows the offense will continue firing and putting up points even when she’s not on the floor. Smith also said it creates a problem for opposing defenses because they’ll have to decide whether or not to focus on her, or stopping the three ball.

“If they focus on me that’s just gonna help out all our shooters and everybody else on the floor,” Smith said. “So I mean, they might not want to scout me that hard because we got a lot of shooters.”

Baylor jumped out early, scoring 19 unanswered points as the Lions weren’t able to score in the first six minutes of the game, shooting just 1-14 in the first quarter as the Bears finished the period 23-3.

“I felt like as a group, they came out ready to compete,” Collen said. “That’s the big part, that they didn’t take this team for granted. That they put their foot down and accelerated early.”

The Bears continued to create havoc on the defensive end in the second quarter as they forced nine turnovers on their way to taking a 38-14 halftime lead. By halftime Smith had already secured her double-double with 15 points and 10 boards.

The Bears did most of their damage from deep in the third quarter as they knocked down five threes on their way to a 30 point quarter to give them a 58-29 lead heading into the fourth.

After scoring just 29 points in the first three quarters, the Lions outscored the Bears, 23-20 in the fourth quarter. Part of the reason for the scoring outburst is that the Bears gave up six offensive rebounds in the quarter, which Collen said is something the team needs to work on.

“This team has to get better, there’s a reason why Baylor led the nation in defensive and defensive rebound efficiency,” Collen said. “Liz [Smith] and Queen [Egbo] are good rebounders, but it was because of Moon [Ursin] and DiDi [Richards] and DiJonai [Carrington], because those guys are big guards that cleaned up a lot of balls, and we’re small, we can’t be big. So we have to check people early. We got to scrap and fight and do those things because we look differently.”

Baylor will wrap up exhibition play with a matchup against West Texas A&M at 7 p.m., Nov. 3, at the Ferrell Center before tipping off the regular season on Nov. 9 with another home game against Texas State University.