Smith, Egbo lead No. 7 WBB to 20th win of season

Senior forward NaLyssa Smith finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds after a slow start against TCU on Feb. 16 in the Ferrell Center. Grace Everett | Photographer

By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor

No. 7 Baylor women’s basketball earned their 20th win of the season Wednesday night in the Ferrell Center, defeating Texas Christian University 80-55. After a competitive first half of play, the Bears came alive in the second half to surge past the Horned Frogs, outscoring them 47-25 following the halftime break.

“We had confidence in each other, we definitely knew it would come,” Queen Egbo said. “Second half was kind of where we decided we were going to separate ourselves from them [TCU].”

The senior front-court tandem of forward NaLyssa Smith and center Queen Egbo had their hands all over this one, each putting up a double-double. Egbo led all players in points, rebounds and blocks with 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting and 13 boards to go along with three rejections. Smith finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds after a slow start.

In the backcourt, starting guards graduate student Jordan Lewis, sophomore Sarah Andrews and junior Ja’Mee Asberry all had a solid night. Lewis filled the stat sheet with 14 points, six rebounds and six assists as well as three steals. Andrews scored eight points and tied a career-high with nine assists. Asberry was the fourth Bear to reach double figures, chipping in 11 points.

Baylor (20-5, 10-3 Big 12) and TCU traded runs in the first quarter with the Horned Frogs doing their damage from beyond the arc (4-of-8), while the Bears earned their points in the paint and the charity stripe. A shooting foul in the final seconds of the period allowed TCU to take a 19-18 lead before the buzzer.

The Horned Frogs (6-16, 2-11 Big 12) pounced on the Bears early in the second, jumping out to a 28-20 lead. However, a 13-2 run over the last half of the quarter allowed Baylor to get back in front before halftime with a 33-30 advantage.

At the half, Egbo led all scorers with 14 points and six rebounds. After letting TCU shoot 4-for-8 from deep in the first quarter, Baylor held them to just 1-for-5 in the second. While the Bears struggled to shoot 3s themselves, going 3-for-11, their ball movement allowed them to pick apart TCU’s zone defense, allowing Egbo to dominate inside.

“I felt like they were really aggressive and we didn’t respond well at first,” Lewis said. “I feel like they were pushing us under the basket on rebounds. I felt like we weren’t getting off screens as well, and I felt like they were being more aggressive than us, so we knew when we came out, we had to be more aggressive with them. We knew that their record didn’t reflect who they were and they were going to fight till the end. And so we knew that we had to play our best to win today.”

Baylor got into a groove offensively in the third quarter. The Bears outscored TCU 26-17, thanks in part to a 9-0 run to end the period that got the crowd on their feet. The run gave Baylor a 59-47 edge heading into the fourth quarter.

Smith and Egbo came out aggressive in the final quarter, bringing intensity on both sides of the ball to help seal the deal. The two combined for 12 points and seven rebounds in the period and set the tone defensively, as Baylor outscored TCU 21-8 to finish the job. However, the biggest cheers of the night came with 25 seconds left in the game when walk-on freshman guard Andrea Katramados, known as AK by her teammates for her shooting ability, connected on a corner three in front of the Baylor bench.

“It was pretty exciting,” Lewis said. “We love AK. She brings a lot of energy to the team and she’s never complaining, so for her to get out there and get an opportunity to knock down the shot was exciting for all of us.”

With losses to Iowa State University (21-4, 10-3 Big 12) and the University of Oklahoma (20-5, 9-4 Big 12), Baylor’s win puts the team tied atop the Big 12 conference standings. The Bear are back in the race for the conference championship with five games left to go.

“I’m grateful to be back where we control our own destiny,” head coach Nicki Collen said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. When you start 0-2, you’re going to need help. We’ve been pretty good since we were 0-2, but you still need help. Now, it puts us back in the driver’s seat in terms of controlling our own destiny.”

Baylor will look to stay atop the Big 12 with a win in the second game of a back-to-back duel with TCU at 1 p.m. Saturday at Schollmaier Arena in Fort Worth.