STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — Te’a Cooper had started all 23 previous games this season for No. 2 Baylor, but coach Kim Mulkey decided to start Moon Ursin at guard on Saturday night.
The move paid off as Cooper came off the bench to score 15 points, including the 1,000th of her career, to help lead Baylor to a dominating 69-42 victory over Oklahoma State.
It was the 16th straight triumph for Baylor (23-1, 12-0 Big 12) and its 53rd consecutive Big 12 regular season win, as well as the 599th of coach Kim Mulkey’s career.
Cooper, a graduate transfer from South Carolina, still played 25 minutes, and also had eight rebounds and four steals.
“It felt good,” said Cooper, who shot 6 of 10 from the floor. “I didn’t know (about the milestone) until just now, so that feels good to know that I did that.”
Juicy Landrum added 12 points and five assists while Queen Egbo contributed 10 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Lady Bears. Baylor had four other players hit at least six points and Mulkey noted that her team’s balance and depth was a key to its success.
“We can score at all positions,” Mulkey said. “You think, ‘Well, God, Baylor always has these dominant players.’ Well, yeah we do. But I think if you look at the box score, everybody scores for us. We share the ball. We lead in a lot of national categories in assists, our kids are not afraid to share the wealth and I think that’s very important for us.
“I thought our bench was great tonight. (Cooper’s) normally a starter, but I chose to bring her off the bench tonight, and wow, she did great. I’ve got eight or nine that could be out on that floor when we tip it off.”
Vivian Gray scored 19 points to lead Oklahoma State (14-11, 5-8), which is now 2-5 in its last seven games. It was the 50th consecutive game that Gray, who entered the day ranking 17th in the nation in scoring (19.8 points per game), reached a double-digit point total.
Natasha Mack scored seven points, all in the second half, and had 15 rebounds, three steals and four blocks for the Cowgirls.
“Not real happy the way we played tonight,” said Oklahoma State coach Jim Littel. “I thought we had some people play a little on the intimidated side and you can’t do that against Baylor. They just smell it when you get that way and they’re going to come at you. They got size, they got length and what they’ve always done, they make the lane disappear. There’s no easy baskets.”
After taking a 41-18 lead into halftime, Baylor maintained at least a 20-point advantage throughout the second half. Gray’s 10-foot jump shot brought Oklahoma State to within 47-26 with 6:22 left in the third quarter and the Lady Bears reeled off a 14-1 run over the next eight minutes to put the game well out of reach.
Baylor: The sustained excellence exhibited by the defending national champion Lady Bears has been impressive. In addition to extending their overall winning streak to 16 games and their Big 12 regular season winning streak to 53, they have now won 42 Big 12 regular season games on the road. They have also won nine straight against Oklahoma State, with their last Big 12 road loss coming against the Cowgirls on Dec. 30, 2015. The road streak is the third-longest in NCAA history and second-best active stretch, trailing only Connecticut’s in the Athletic American Conference.
Oklahoma State: After an 8-0 run, the Cowgirls had pulled to within 21-17 with 6:44 left in the second quarter, but it all fell apart after that. Baylor finished the half on a 20-1 run to take a commanding 41-18 advantage into halftime as Oklahoma State missed its last 10 shots of the quarter. The Cowgirls’ overall shooting percentage of 18.8 % (3 of 16) in the second quarter marked their third-worst shooting quarter of the season.
SHE SAID IT
“We have been playing in spurts the last three weeks,” Mulkey said. “You hadn’t had your full team on the floor healthy. (Starting forward Lauren) Cox was out the first part of the season, then we get her back and Nalyssa Smith goes out. When you get my team on that floor healthy for a long period of time, I think we can be special. We’re a different team than we have been, but we got some tremendous athletes and scorers.”
Baylor: The Lady Bears put their road winning streak on the line again as they travel to Lubbock to take on Texas Tech on Tuesday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowgirls have a week off before face TCU on the road on Feb. 23.