Van Gytenbeek’s 2 free throws lifts No. 24 Baylor women’s basketball over No. 22 West Virginia 66-65

Senior guard Jana Van Gytenbeek attacks from the left wing during No. 24 Baylor women's basketball's conference game against No. 21 West Virginia on Saturday in the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

No. 24 Baylor women’s basketball pulled out a nail-biting 66-65 win against No. 22 West Virginia on Saturday afternoon in the WVU Coliseum in Morgantown, W.Va.

The Bears (21-6, 10-6 Big 12) lost a double-digit lead to the Mountaineers (22-5, 11-5 Big 12) when WVU junior guard JJ Quinerly scored a 3-pointer to make it 64-65. Baylor senior guard Jana Van Gytenbeek stepped in for junior guard Jada Walker after Quinerly was forced to foul.

Gytenbeek, who had been on the bench for more than five minutes, was able to sink both free throws for the Bears to give them the lead and win with 4.3 seconds left on the clock.

“When your head coach gives you a bear hug and tells you she has all the faith in the world in you, it’s pretty easy for you to feel confident in that moment,” said Van Gytenbeek. “That could make me cry. I’m going to credit that to Nicki and all the other coaches and teammates who told me I was going to make this.”

Even with 4.3 seconds left on the clock, the Mountaineers attempted to go coast-to-coast, however, it was unsuccessful.

“I was proud of them because they never quit,” Collen said. “Teams get in desperation mode, so we have to have more poise in those late-game situations. But we also can’t just stop playing. We can’t step back. But you also have to give yourself credit for building up a lead to sustain.

“There’s a reason you had a 12-point lead. You give yourself a cushion to make more mistakes down the stretch when teams are more Kamikaze and take more things away.”

The game featured eight lead changes and two ties from the ranked teams. In the first quarter, West Virginia capitalized on Baylor’s 12 turnovers, scoring all 16 of its points and had a three-point lead of 16-13.

“We had a bazillion turnovers,” Collen said. “None of [the first-quarter turnovers] were against the press, they were all once we broke the press, other than [when] Yaya [Felder] had a couple when I had her in. We got into the halfcourt, and our decision making in the halfcourt . . . we have to grow in that area.”

After halftime, the Bears came ready to play despite trailing 28-25. They were able to put up 25 points, matching their score from the first half. Baylor shot 71.4% from the field with the help of senior guard Sarah Andrews and Van Gytenbeek, who scored eight points each.

The team will stay on the road, as it heads to Cincinnati to play Cincinnati (13-14, 5-11 Big 12) on Tuesday before wrapping up the regular season against Oklahoma State (13-14, 6-10 Big 12) on Sunday March 3, in the Foster Pavilion.

Zach Babajanof-Rustrian is a freshman journalism and psychology major from Lutz, Florida. In his first year at the Lariat, he is excited to learn from the editors and to improve his writing skills. After graduation, he hopes to become a public relations agent for a Tampa sports team.