Game of the Year (Baylor’s Version): Bears top No. 4 Utah 84-77 on Eras Night

Senior guard Sarah Andrews (24) blows past a Utes defender during No. 21 Baylor women's basketball's nonconference game against No. 4 Utah Tuesday night in the Ferrell Center. Kassidy Tsikitas | Photographer

By Jackson Posey | Sports Writer, George Schroeder | LTVN Executive Producer

Eras night, record student attendance and a top-four upset to cap it all off.

No. 21 Baylor women’s basketball played the role of Anti-Hero, knocking off No. 4 Utah 84-77 Tuesday night in the Ferrell Center. Call It What You Want, but the win was beyond the Bears’ Wildest Dreams.

LTVN’s George Schroeder lets you see the Bear’s top-five toppling  for yourself.

“It was a great win,” senior guard Sarah Andrews, who scored a team-high 18 points, said. “I think everybody contributed a different way. Everybody took over a quarter, in some way, in some how. … In the fourth quarter, I kind of just let the game come to me. But we just played a great game tonight.”

The win was particularly significant to head coach Nicki Collen. The third-year head coach called it “the best home win” of her coaching career.

“I’m just really proud that [the players] are starting to show who they are, and who we are, and how good we can be doing it our way,” Collen said. “It feels really, really good.”

The Utes entered as 3.5-point favorites, but a quick start by Baylor graduate student forward Dre’Una Edwards flipped the switch in a hurry.

Edwards racked up seven points on 3 of 3 shooting from the floor, two assists, a block and a steal in just over three minutes of the first quarter. The Kentucky transfer accounted for the Bears’ first 11 points, as the squad took an early 11-2 lead.

Baylor led by eight when Edwards went to the bench, and before long, Utah trimmed that lead to one point.

“You saw her be a senior on the floor,” Andrews said of Edwards. “You saw her tell everybody ‘Hey, it’s OK, we’re good.’ You saw her step up and be a leader. Dre’s just somebody that’s going to come to play every night. You want to be on her team, not the other team going against her, and I’m just super proud watching her play.”

Utah entered the game averaging 40% shooting on 42.5 3-point attempts per game, but it struggled to hit the bottom of the net on Tuesday. The Utes trailed by six at halftime, 39-33, and they finished the game 6 of 24 from deep.

“We just played Baylor basketball,” Andrews said of the Bears’ perimeter defense. “We stuck together. We knew that we were going to have to guard the 3-point line, our goal was to make them go two-by-two-by-two. But you knew they were going to knock down 3’s, it was just about how you respond. … I think everybody took on the role of, ‘We’re going to run them off the 3-point line and make them beat us another way.’”

Sophomore forward Bella Fontleroy hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to send the game to its final frame. With a 63-54 lead in hand Baylor looked to hold off a comeback effort by Utah.

At 68-58, Utah senior forward Dasia Young hit a jumper to cut the lead to eight. The Utes rebounded a missed free throw, and preseason All-American senior forward Alissa Pili converted the second-chance points. Pili scored again and trimmed their deficit to four points.

Sophomore forward Darianna Littlepage-Buggs tried to push the pace in transition, but tripped and fell just inside the 3-point line and was immediately swarmed by Utah defenders. On the ground, on the verge of a jump ball, she tossed the ball back to Andrews, who rose up and drained a dagger 3-pointer.

The Bears went on a blazing run, scoring eight points in three possessions to stretch the lead back to eight. Utah’s offense fizzled, scoring two field goals in the next three minutes. Three minutes and 27 seconds later, the game was over.

“They’re a really, really good team, and they play well together, but so do we,” Fontleroy, who scored 12 points off the bench, said. “We just had that poise and that control. We were like, ‘OK, they might punch us in the mouth, but we’re going to punch them right back and keep control of this game.’”

The Bears’ next game comes at home against Harvard, with tipoff set for 1 p.m. on Sunday in the Ferrell Center.