By AnnaGrace Hale | Sports Writer
No. 17 Baylor women’s basketball now has four games under its belt, and it’s biggest challenge hasn’t been its opponents. It’s been player health and availability. The Bears have been battling injuries all fall and they seem to just keep racking up.
“This year, when it rains, it pours, and it’s been pouring all fall,” head coach Nicki Collen said.
Even though the season has just started, some of the Bears’ key players have already taken big hits, with senior guard Aijha Blackwell being one of them.
In Baylor’s win on Tuesday against Southern Methodist University, Blackwell took a fall, and a hush went over the Ferrell Center. She was helped directly to the locker room without putting weight on her right leg.
“Everyone saw it was a lower leg injury,” Collen said. “Ajiha has not signed off on sharing medical information.”
Blackwell had an incredible game against the University of Incarnate Word on Nov. 10, where she put up 23 points coupled with 10 boards.
This loss was big for the Bears.
“We love AB [Aijha Blackwell]. We know how much she brings to our table,” senior guard Jaden Owens said. “Losing AB right now is sad, and it’s hard and unexpected. But confidence is high, because we have so much trust in our teammates [and] our coaching staff. ”
On a brighter note, graduate forward Caitlin Bickle started practicing with the team after being out for several weeks with a hand injury. Collen said the veteran is playing in a splint, but didn’t have any restrictions in practice. Fitness isn’t as much a concern, it is more the ability to shoot.
“When you have an injury on your shooting hand, how does that affect you?” Collen said. “How will it affect you the first time she gets it hit? Hopefully she can still shoot it effectively, but we have enough protection on it that she shouldn’t have to worry about taking a hit.”
Last season, Bickle was a big leader on the team on and off the court. This season, although she hasn’t suited up for games, she can still be seen doing handshakes with her teammates before games and hyping up players from the sideline.
Other minor injuries include junior guard Sarah Andrews who tweaked her ankle against SMU. Andrews was in a boot, but the injury is not limiting her from playing this weekend against the University of Maryland.
“I’ll feel 100% probably about in 5 minutes,” Andrews said. “I’m ready to go now but I’ll be ready by tomorrow. I’ll see you all on Sunday at two o’clock.”
There is still no update on redshirt senior forward Dre’Una Edwards who is out for “eligibility” reasons.
In terms of making up for these players, Collen said it will be a team effort.
“We’re certainly going to continue to need contributions from both those freshmen forwards,” Collen said. “It’s kind of a collective effort going forward.”
The collective effort starts now. The team takes on No. 19 Maryland at 2 p.m. on Sunday to wrap up its fifth-straight game at the Ferrell Center.