No. 5 seed Baylor women’s basketball takes out No. 12 seed Vanderbilt 80-63 in NCAA Tournament first round

Sophomore forward Bella Fontleroy turned in her third double-double of the year, and sixth of her career, with a 19-point, 11-rebound performance. Fontleroy led the Bears in both categories. Photo courtesy of Baylor Athletics

By Zach Babajanof-Rustrian | Sports Writer

No. 5 seed Baylor women’s basketball knocked out No. 12 seed Vanderbilt 80-63 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday night in the Cassell Coliseum in Blacksburg, Va.

The Bears started off hot in the first quarter, as they scored 24 points to the Commodores’ 12. Baylor was able to capitalize on Vanderbilt’s nine turnovers, and sophomore forward Bella Fontleroy and junior guard Jada Walker both scoring six points each.

Fontleroy finished two points shy (19) of her career high.

“Bella understands that her role is a little bit different every game,” Bears head coach Nicki Collen said. “If she’s making shots, she’s probably going to get a lot of shots. If she’s not, she’s going to be out there because she defends, rebounds and does a good job being a team player.”

In the second quarter, the Bears were able to keep the lead, however, the Commodores didn’t make it easy. Vanderbilt forced eight turnovers by the Bears and was able to close the lead to 41-34 going into half.

Even though Vanderbilt was able to lessen Baylor’s lead, senior guard Jana Van Gytenbeek made her presence known by scoring five points for the Bears, tied for the highest amount of points earned for the quarter with Fontleroy.

After halftime, the Bears came in hungry, keeping the lead throughout the third quarter. Only having one turnover, Baylor was able to use Vanderbilt’s five turnovers to score a total of 28 points, the most per quarter. Baylor extended its lead to 69-49 going into the last quarter of the game.

Having a 20-point lead entering the fourth quarter, Baylor looked to keep the lead to head to the round of 32. Senior guard Sarah Andrews was able to contribute to the Bears’ 11 points for the quarter, scoring five points, helping with Baylor’s 80-63 win.

The Bears will now turn their attention to No. 4 seed and host Virginia Tech as they will square off at 7 p.m. on Sunday in the round of 32 in the same venue.