By Michael Haag | Sports Writer, Video by Joe Pratt | Broadcast Reporter
No. 5 Baylor women’s basketball (7-1) crushed Morehead State University 73-28 Tuesday night in the Ferrell Center, as they gave up nothing defensively. The Bears held the Eagles (1-5) under 10 points in each quarter. The last time the Bears held an opponent to under 30 points was Dec. 19, 2020, with 24 points against McNeese State, which was also the last time Baylor held an opponent to single digits in every quarter.
Sophomore guard Sarah Andrews led the way offensively for the Bears, as she recorded a career high 20 points and shot 6-8 from three-point range. The backcourt of senior center Queen Egbo and senior forward NaLyssa Smith each posted double-doubles, with Egbo putting up 11 points and 16 rebounds, while Smith finished with 10 points and 11 boards. It’s the first time two teammates have recorded double-doubles since March 24, 2021. Egbo’s 16 rebounds were a career high and she also dished out a career-tying four assists.
Head coach Nicki Collen said Andrews changes the game for the team and gives them much needed boosts. She also said Andrews will need to get in better shape for conference play.
“She’s such an electric player. You can [see] her speed when [she] has the ball in her hands and the things she can do with it,” Collen said. “She’s really learning to battle through fatigue, make shots when she’s tired, defend when she’s tired. She kind of wears her fatigue a little bit more than others. Having her get in shape now so she’s truly in shape by [the] Big 12 season will be really important for us.”
Andrews said she felt challenged coming into this game by her coaching staff and that after the first few makes she “just believed anything was going.” She also said her teammates found her when she was open to get her in rhythm. Egbo said the rim was “like an ocean” for Andrews.
“It felt really good,” Andrews said. “I think coming into the game, I was challenged and I accepted the challenge by coach Tony [Greene]. He told me to play every game with energy so tonight, I just came out with energy and I really thank my teammates. They got me the ball in the right spots tonight and I was just able to knock down shots.”
Baylor as a unit shot 45% from deep and 47% from the field. The team also out-rebounded the Eagles 48-27. Baylor also cleaned up from the charity stripe, hitting 8-of-11, dominating in all facets of the game. As a result, the defense stood out, which Andrews said is the key to the team’s ultimate goal of winning a title.
“I think, over time, you’ve seen our defense grow,” Andrews said. “I think down the line, defense wins championships, so why not start tonight and each and every game building up to it?”
Baylor jumped out to a 20-9 lead to end the first quarter, with long-range shooting from junior guard Ja’Mee Asberry, who finished the game with 14 points and four assists. Asberry hit 2 of 5 from behind the arc in the period. Baylor forced seven of MSU’s 10 first half turnovers in the opening quarter. The Bears also went on a 10-3 run to close the quarter with an 11-point lead.
The Bears opened the second quarter with a three pointer from Andrews, who started to get hot. Baylor went on a 14-3 run over the final six minutes of the half to bolster their lead to 20. After a last second shot from MSU, the Bears led 37-17 heading into the intermission. Andrews scored 12 of her 20 points in the first half, going 4-for-4 from three.
The third quarter showcased Andrews’ sixth three-pointer of the game to send Baylor into the break ahead 60-22. Smith also tallied her double-double before the end of the quarter.
The fourth quarter was more of the same, as the Bears limited MSU points while expanding their lead. Egbo tallied her double-double this period while Andrews hit her first shot from inside the arc with a floater to finish the routing.
After the game, Egbo said she had a talk with Collen about her expectations for the team. Egbo said she wants to meet those expectations and help the team out in any role necessary.
“Yeah, I had that talk with Nicki and she just reiterated what she expects from me and how she expects me to be playing every night,” Egbo said. “So, I just try to live up to those expectations and if I can’t do anything, the least I can do is bring energy and get rebounds every now and then. So, that’s what I try to do and help my team in any way I can.”
Collen said the defensive approach was more exhausting than most viewers may have noticed. She said MSU brought a slow-paced offense, using a lot of the shot clock, putting lots of strain on Baylor’s defense.
“They were in stall game all night, and that’s hard,” Collen said. “I don’t think fans understand how hard it was to defend for 22 seconds on every possession before they really tried to score.”
The Bears remain at home for a test against the University of Missouri (7-0) as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday in the Ferrell Center.