WACO, Texas – One thing hasn’t changed for the Baylor women in their first season since the departure of longtime coach Kim Mulkey.
The Bears still know how to take care of Texas.
NaLyssa Smith scored 25 points and ninth-ranked Baylor beat the No. 13 Longhorns for the 12th consecutive time, never trailing in a 75-63 victory Friday night.
It was the first of two meetings over three days between the Big 12 rivals, and it makes first-year coach Nicki Collen feel comfortable since she arrived from the WNBA.
“To me, this is playoff basketball,” Collen said. “It’s play a game, see what you did well, see what you’ve got to improve on, see what you can maybe take advantage of when you didn’t and do it all over again Sunday. It just feels like a two-game series. I know this isn’t normal for them, but this is normal to me. Or at least it has been for five years.”
Ja’Mee Asberry had all 15 of her points in the first 12 minutes for the Bears (16-5, 6-3 Big 12) in a game originally scheduled for Jan. 9 but postponed because of COVID-19 issues in the Baylor program. The rematch is Sunday in Austin.
Aliyah Matharu scored 17 points for the Longhorns (15-5, 5-4), who haven’t beaten Baylor since Feb. 6, 2017. Both teams were coming off losses to No. 18 Oklahoma – both on baskets in the final seconds from Liz Scott.
Texas, which trailed by 14 in the first half, pulled within 48-45 in the third quarter. But Sarah Andrews’ three-point play on a driving layup restored the Bears’ double-digit lead at 55-45 in the final minute of the quarter. Andrews had 17 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.
“Basketball is a game of runs, and we knew they were going to pressure us,” Andrews said. “They didn’t quite capitalize on some of the turnovers, and I think we capitalized more off of theirs. We just pushed through it.”
Smith, Asberry and Andrews accounted for the first nine points before a bucket from Queen Egbo capped an 11-0 run in the first quarter after the Longhorns had pulled even at 7. Egbo fouled out in the fourth quarter with six points.
“There’s just certain things that we just did not do well in the first half that we know better,” Texas coach Vic Schaefer said. “Sometimes when you’ve got a young team, an inexperienced team, maybe some immaturity, these things happen. We got some really good shots, y’all. We just can’t make a shot.”
Texas: The Longhorns had passes knocked away on consecutive turnovers on their first two possessions and finished with 20 turnovers. That was after committing a season-high 24 turnovers in the loss to Oklahoma. Baylor was sloppy, too, finishing with 19 turnovers.
“Yes, it was a bad start,” said point guard Rori Harmon, who had 10 points, six assists and two turnovers. “Yes, it can set the tone, but we shouldn’t let it set the tone.”
Baylor: Smith, among the national leaders in double-doubles with 14, didn’t get her first rebound until late in the first half but managed to finish with eight to help keep the Bears from getting dominated on the boards. Texas had a 34-30 rebounding edge.
The Bears will have a chance to solidify their spot in the top 10 despite the loss to Oklahoma if they can sweep the Longhorns. Texas probably won’t move much either way regardless of the rematch outcome.
Asberry opened her scoring with a three-point play on a layup, and the remaining 12 points came on her four 3-pointers. She missed her first two 3s but hit four of the next five, capped by her final points for a 29-17 lead with 7:49 remaining in the second quarter.
The Longhorns haven’t beaten the Bears in Austin since Jan. 31, 2010. With this loss, that 2009-10 season will remain the most recent time that Texas won both regular-season games against Baylor.