Super-seniors Caitlin Bickle, Ja’Mee Asberry, hope to leave lasting mark

Fifth-year senior forward Caitlin Bickle (51) pushes toward the lane after a shot fake during a conference game against No. 22 Iowa State University on Feb. 18 in the Ferrell Center. Kenneth Prabhakar | Photo Editor

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

For graduate students forward Caitlin Bickle and guard Ja’Mee Asberry, the Big Dance will be the final ride of their collegiate careers. Despite Asberry only being with the Baylor women’s basketball program for two seasons following her three-year tenure at Oklahoma State University, she said she hopes her impact will last on the younger athletes.

“I feel like my name is always going to be remembered, hopefully,” Asberry said. “I just hope one day [my teammates] say, ‘I hope I can be like Ja’Mee and Cait when
we’re seniors.’”

In an up-and-down season for the Bears (19-12), one thing has been consistent: the unquestioned leadership and work ethic of the graduate student duo. Both Bickle and Asberry were tasked with leading the team through the year and have been the glue holding the team together.

“Caitlin has just had this evolution of being someone who was all about Baylor and always a great team player, to someone who truly impacts whether we win or lose and that can’t be understated,” head coach Nicki Collen said.

Bickle entered her fifth year as a Bear, ready to up her production and increase the drive of the women around her. As Collen’s “security blanket,” Bickle grew in a lot of ways. In her first year as a full-time starter, Bickle had the best season of her career in 2022-23. She averaged 12.2 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game, and continued to play in the middle of the paint in order to defend opposing post players and take charges.

So far this season, the Baylor forward has career-highs in blocks (14), steals (24), but also fouled out the most times in her time with the Bears (six times). Despite getting into consistent foul trouble, Bicke hasn’t fouled out since Feb. 22 in a 67-57 win at Texas Christian University.

Bickle’s 2023 campaign has showcased six double-doubles, 27 starts in 27 appearances and 15 double-digit performances. Her highest scoring output came when she scored 30 points for the first time in her career in a 98-92 overtime loss to then-No. 16 University of Oklahoma on Feb. 7 in the Ferrell Center.

Bickle was emotional ahead of Baylor’s 63-52 Senior Night loss to West Virginia University on March 4, and she said the last five years have “felt like a lifetime.”

Asberry’s five-year journey has looked pretty different from Bickle’s.

“For me, I’ve had a way different path than Cait,” Asberry said. “I’m just happy I made it this far without giving up.”

Asberry came to Baylor as a senior transfer from Oklahoma State. In her last year with the Cowgirls, the Tulsa, Okla., native was awarded All-Big 12 Second Team honors. She felt she had reached a new level and decided to transfer to Baylor in order to further elevate her skill.

“Why Baylor? It looks good on your resume, one, for school,” Asberry said. “Two, everyone here loves you. Three, your teammates and your coaching staff love you. Four, for me personally, you get to get away from everyone. It’s not as small as Stillwater, of course, but it’s still small and quiet.”

Even though Asberry may love the quiet in Waco, she showed her loud ability on the court. In what is her final year as a Bear, Asberry has averaged 10.8 points per game and played strong defense on the perimeter.

With a seven-point outing in a 71-61 win over Texas Tech University on Feb. 25, Asberry eclipsed 1,500 career points. She was already just one of three members on the team with 1,000 or more total career points. Asberry has reached double-figure scoring in 18 games this year and recorded a season-high of 21 points in an 87-68 loss on the road at Kansas State University on Feb. 15.

However, the highlight of her career was a year ago when she helped the Bears win the program’s 12th-straight regular season Big 12 championship.

“I think in terms of roles and expectations, personally, when [Ja’Mee] came here last year, at times she was the fifth option on the floor,” Collen said. “A really good fifth option. But it was about playing for a championship and being part of a championship program. And for that to happen for her and [Jordan Lewis] last year was really, really special.”

The Bears are preparing to duke it out in the NCAA tournament, but no matter how far they go, Bickle and Asberry believe they’ve left their mark on the Baylor women’s
basketball program.