By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor, Video by Joe Pratt | Broadcast Reporter
After three weeks of playing on the road, No. 15 Baylor women’s basketball returned to the Ferrell Center Wednesday night and showed its physicality. Senior center Queen Egbo and senior forward NaLyssa Smith dominated the paint en route to a 67-49 victory over Oklahoma State University, which was without leading scorer junior guard Lauren Fields.
“I feel like we just were on the same page today coming off a big win from Kansas,” Egbo said. “We kind of knew what we wanted going forward and we came and we played like that today. Obviously, we know we were making shots, so it makes it a lot easier, but being able to come and get a win, it always feels good.”
Smith said it felt great to be back playing in front of the home crowd while also getting their first Big 12 win in the Ferrell Center this season.
“It felt great, honestly,” Smith said. “We started out 0-2, that Kansas win was a big win for us and just coming home, I love the energy at home. I just feel like it’s a different environment. You got the fans on your side, home court advantage. So, just coming in and getting that win just helps us and hopefully they’re there for the Iowa State game.”
Egbo reached the 1,000-point milestone, which she said has been “a long time coming,” and scored a game high 19 points, with a perfect 9-of-9 from the charity stripe. She also came down with eight rebounds and two blocks. Head coach Nicki Collen said she hopes Egbo has this type of performance every night.
“We need Queen. That’s the Queen we need every game,” Collen said. “Look at Queen’s career. I don’t want to say I’m the difference maker because she’s had strings in the past where she’s put together three or four games that make her look like a top-five pick, and then she kind of disappears. And so that’s my challenge to her, it’s her challenge to bring that every night.”
Smith recorded her 13th double-double of the season and 41st of her career with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Graduate student guard Jordan Lewis chipped in 13 points and seven assists. Transfer guard Ja’Mee Asberry, in her first game against her former team, added nine points, four steals and three assists.
“She was motivated, there’s no question,” Colleen said. “I wish we could have gotten her more shots to be honest. But you know, I thought she really guarded, I think she was a difference maker. She had some really good passes early I thought as well. So, I thought she had a great game.”
With neither team being able to connect well from beyond the arc, OSU going 4-for-17 and Baylor shooting 2-of-11 from deep, the Bears separated themselves by getting to the free throw line where they knocked down 19-of-25.
“It was pretty physical; They were playing very aggressive on rebounds, on shots, they were super aggressive,” Egbo said. “It was all about just getting to the line and making your free throw when the time came and that’s what we did tonight.”
The Bears (12-4, 2-2 Big 12) were able to cause problems on the defensive end for the Cowgirls (6-9, 1-5 Big 12), forcing 17 turnovers through a mixture of steals, drawing charges and forcing shot-clock violations. However, Collen said she needs to see more out of her team on that end of the floor.
“I thought we looked a little tired, personally,” Collen said. “I thought our on-ball pressure can be better. I thought in some ways we just had an advantage because they didn’t aggressively attack early, so we always were kind of set and back and our biggest struggles were in sudden change stuff, turnovers, long rebounds, that type of thing. So we have to be better Sunday.”
Egbo notched 10 of her 19 points in the first quarter as the Bears led 18-12 at the end of the period.
In the second quarter, Baylor stretched the lead to 30-18, but gave up a late run in the final three minutes allowing the Cowgirls to make it a 34-26 deficit heading into the half.
While the Bears couldn’t dial one from deep in the first half, they flexed their strength down low with 16 points in the paint. They were also able to crash the offensive glass with seven offensive rebounds leading to eight second chance points.
Baylor widened the gap to 17 in the third, taking a 52-35 lead by the end of the quarter and was able to keep the margin throughout the final period by continuing to get baskets inside with a total of 32 points in the paint.
Next up, the Bears will host No. 7 Iowa State University (16-2, 5-1 Big 12) at 2 p.m. on Sunday in the Ferrell Center.