By Joe Pratt | Reporter
Baylor women’s basketball is the only Big 12 team with a perfect home record. The No. 11 Bears have shined at the Ferrell Center this season, starting out 8-0 on their home floor. However, despite the team’s impressive home performances, attendance for women’s games remains low, as students only fill a handful of rows in the Bear Pit. Head coach Nicki Collen addressed the crowd numbers following a meaningful win over then-ranked No. 7 Iowa State University on Sunday.
“People are missing out if they don’t come, in my opinion,” Collen said. “Certainly, you can watch the game on TV, and you can enjoy it from your living room, but you have the ability to impact the game and when the crowd got involved in the third quarter, I’m telling you, it was a difference maker.”
Collen was touching upon a game where just 44% of the seats in the Ferrell Center were being utilized despite it being the biggest game of the season up to that point. This amounted to only 4,541 people in attendance at what ended up being the Bears’ first ranked victory of the season. Fort Worth freshman Thomas Matchett, who was part of the Golden Wave Band for Sunday afternoon’s game, said he was surprised by the scarce turnout.
“It shocked me a little bit to see how few students were there,” Matchett said. “It was obviously the biggest game of the year for them, and it’s like no one even knew. [The Bear Pit] even had Scott Drew there to cheer on the girls.”
Collen and her team are still adjusting to the coaching change, which could be part of the reason why they may not seem as talented as teams in years past. The Bears took the conference with ease, going 17-1 in the Big 12 and 28-3 overall last season. Through 18 games this season, Collen’s squad already has one more loss than last season’s team had in 31 games. Back in the 2019-2020 season, they finished at 28-2, 17-0 at home. With health and safety precautions in place, attendance for games last year dipped down to around 20%, but the year before, on average, almost 8,000 fans packed nearly 80% of the Ferrell Center.
A less flawless display this season is what may be drawing less people to the games. However, Collen remains patient and said the fans will eventually come around.
“Sometimes it takes time for those things to manifest in a win, but if they keep at it, there is going to be a lot of people that want to jump on the bandwagon later,” Collen said. “I’m not someone who says ‘hey if you weren’t riding for us now you can’t ride for us later.’ The bus will always have room for fans.”
It’s possible more fans will get out and support Baylor’s women’s team as they gain momentum into the tournament.
Houston freshman David Rios also attended the Bears’ battle against the Cyclones, and shared a similar opinion to Collen.
“I think that people just don’t care as much about the women’s team,” Rios said. “It’s … like people see we’re not top five so they don’t go. But a lot of people don’t know that they are actually really fun to watch, and if we keep winning, especially at home, people are [going to] come out.”
The Bears still have seven home games remaining this season, five of which will be against currently ranked teams. Collen’s team will try to continue to prove that they’re worthy of fans’ and students’ attention as they look to achieve excellence at home.