Baylor women’s basketball collapses late to WVU, 63-52, on Senior Day

Freshman forward Bella Fontleroy (22) drives into the lane during a conference game against West Virginia University Saturday in the Ferrell Center. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Michael Haag | Sports Editor

Baylor Bold weekend should have been written in all lowercase and in anything but bold font, as both basketball programs tapped out in a pair of Senior Day contests on Saturday in the Ferrell Center.

Following the seventh-ranked men’s crumbling loss to Iowa State University in the morning, the women had a chance to salvage the day, but ended up bowing out with a score of 63-52 to West Virginia University in the Ferrell Center.

“Today was a bad day for Baylor basketball,” head coach Nicki Collen said. “That’s the lead [in the article]. Both games were ugly; it was like a grind.”

The Bears (19-11, 10-8 Big 12) honored fifth-year senior forward Caitlin Bickle and graduate student guard Ja’Mee Asberry in the pregame Senior Day ceremonies. Both Bickle and Asberry have exhausted all of their eligibility and played their final game in the Ferrell Center.

Olivia Havre | Photographer
Head coach Nicki Collen looks on to the ocurt as her team plays during a conference game against West Virginia University Saturday in the Ferrell Center. Olivia Havre | Photographer

Asberry finished with 18 points, her third-highest scoring output of the season, and snagged six rebounds, falling just one shy of tying her career high. Bickle struggled on Saturday, as she only logged four points to go with seven rebounds and three assists.

Junior guard Sarah Andrews followed Asberry with 13 points on 3-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc. Andrews reached double figures for the 15th time out of 18 Big 12 conference games in 2023. Freshman forward Darianna Littlepage-Buggs was the only other Bear in double figures, as she had 11 points to go with seven rebounds.

Collen said it was frustrating to lose like that and that she “feels bad for the fans.” She said she’s trying to figure out why her team can go on the road and beat the No. 12 team in the country earlier in the week and turn around and play flat right after.

“This was not us today,” Collen said. “And it’s sad because to play as well as we did at Texas and to kind of follow it up with this. I think I probably feel a lot like [Texas head coach] Vic [Schaefer] did at his press conference on Monday, where he didn’t understand why his team looked like that 48 hours after going on on the road at OU. I don’t understand why our team didn’t execute after having basically two days off, a little extra rest and then two practices.”

After a layup by Littlepage-Buggs to start the first quarter, WVU (19-10, 10-8 Big 12) went on a 9-0 run to force a full timeout from Collen. Her group responded with three-straight buckets to make it 9-8 in favor of the Mountaineers with 4:12 on the clock. Andrews made a step-back 3-pointer nearly four minutes later, and the two programs were knotted at 16 points apiece going into the second quarter.

WVU extended its lead to four at the 4:46 mark of the second period, but Asberry swooshed home a 3-pointer to make it 25-24 just under a minute later. The programs traded baskets a few times before the Mountaineers pushed out to a six-point lead with 10 seconds left. But Littlepage-Buggs scored a layup as time expired to send Baylor into the break trailing 34-30.

A second-chance jumper by Littlepage-Buggs tied the game at 41 points apiece near the midway point of the third quarter, but West Virginia scored five-straight points to reclaim the lead. The Bears fired right back with five-consecutive points of their own to knot the tally at 46-46 by the end of the period.

WVU took control of the fourth quarter in a hurry, courtesy of a 10-run to open it up. Baylor didn’t score its next basket until nearly six minutes into the final period. The Bears closed the margin to eight points at the 2:20 mark, but Smith buried a 3-pointer about a minute later to give the Mountaineers the 63-52 win.

“It was just one of those nights where it was like as soon as we thought we got over the hump, we were right back down in adversity,” Andrews said.

Olivia Havre | Photographer
Freshman forward Bella Fontleroy (22) snags a rebound off the rim during a conference game against West Virginia University Saturday in the Ferrell Center. Olivia Havre | Photographer

Baylor, now locked in as the sixth-seed in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship, is slated to play against third-seeded and No. 23 Iowa State in the quarterfinals at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.

The game will stream live on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

Asberry said the team just has to “look at is as if we’re 0-0” going into tournament play.

“We can just finally flush this away,” Asberry said. “We don’t have to talk about what we did in the past anymore. All we have to talk about now is what we’re going to do, because it’s elimination now, so it doesn’t matter what we did in Big 12 (play or) non-conference (play).”