LUBBOCK, Texas — NaLyssa Smith had that feeling that she could score every time she got the ball for No. 7 Baylor. She outscored Texas Tech on her own through the first three quarters.
“It feels good,” Smith said. “I just went out there with confidence tonight.”
Smith had 28 points and 13 rebounds as the Big 12-leading Lady Bears won 82-50 Wednesday night, extending their decade-long winning streak over Texas Tech to 24 games in a row.
Her 22nd career double-double was her eighth in 10 games, and she had all of her points by the end of the third quarter – when Baylor led 66-25. DiJonai Carrington added 12 points for the Lady Bears (15-2, 10-1 Big 12), and Queen Egbo also had 13 rebounds.
There was a scary moment midway through the third quarter when Baylor guard DiDi Richards, who during preseason practice was left temporarily paralyzed after a freak spinal injury, fell hard to the floor and stayed down on her back for several minutes.
Richards eventually sat up and got to her feet, then with aid from two Baylor personnel walked to the locker room. Richards had leaped to try to make a block, and was in midair when making contact and fouling Vivian Gray. Richards returned to the bench midway through the fourth quarter.
“She said she has concussion symptoms,” coach Kim Mulkey said afterward, adding that there were no issues with her back or spine.
Mulkey told her players in the huddle before play resumed that Richards was all right.
“This is not the same injury, she’s moving, she’s coherent, she’s talking,” Mulkey said. “I said now we’ve got to go play ball. We’ve got to keep doing what we’ve done. You can’t start worrying about DiDi. DiDi will be back out here. Sure enough, she was back on the bench before the game was over.”
Texas Tech (9-11, 4-10) led 3-2 after Gray made a free throw with 6:30 left in the first quarter. But the Lady Raiders didn’t score again until Gray’s five points in the first 22 seconds of the second quarter.
Baylor finished the first quarter with 16 consecutive points for an 18-3 lead. The three points were the fewest Texas Tech ever scored in a quarter. The Lady Bears have twice have held teams scoreless in a quarter.
“We just didn’t attack from the get-go. I felt like part of our game plan was to come in and kind of get a little bit of time off the clock each possession, but then it was to attack once we got into it,” Tech coach Krista Gerlich said. “I just felt like we were on our heels. … We weren’t in a great rhythm.
Gray finished with 12 points on 3-of-19 shooting to lead the Lady Raiders, who shot 28% (14 of 50) from the field.
Richards initially got hurt Oct. 24 in a midair collision with teammate Moon Ursin. Richards needed a walker to move around while regaining control and strength in her legs. But she missed only the season opener, and was back on the court for the Lady Bears only 38 days later.
Baylor took over the series lead – now up 49-47 – with its 91-45 home win in the Big 12 opener on Dec. 14. Texas Tech, which won 39 in a row against the Lady Bears from 1984-2002, now hasn’t beat them since Feb. 19, 2011. Coach Kim Mulkey is 41-8 against the Red Raiders in her 21 seasons at Baylor.
Baylor: The Lady Bears have a seven-game winning streak since a 75-71 loss to Iowa State on Jan. 16, when they returned after a two-week pause because of COVID-19 issues.
Texas Tech: Gray, who began her college career at Division II Fort Lewis College and played the past two seasons at Oklahoma State, surpassed 2,000 career points overall – she has 2,010 – 443 as a freshman at Fort Lewis, and now has 1,567 since – making her one of only 20 players with 1,500 points at the Division I level.
Baylor is home against Texas on Sunday.
Texas Tech stays at home to play Saturday against Oklahoma State, Gray’s team the past two seasons.