WACO, Texas (AP) — Defending national champion Baylor finally got tested this season. The No. 2 Lady Bears still won by double figures without their preseason AP All-American.
Queen Egbo had 16 points and 10 rebounds, NaLyssa Smith had 12 points and Baylor finally pulled away late in a 58-46 win over No. 22 and previously undefeated South Florida on Tuesday night.
“Two teams that got after each other,” coach Kim Mulkey said.
After winning their first three games by an average margin of nearly 71 points, the Lady Bears (4-0) had only a one-point lead midway through the third quarter after a 3-pointer by Maria Alvarez. But Egbo, playing a bigger role with standout 6-foot-4 senior post Lauren Cox out because of a right foot injury, then had a layup.
“I want to have a big presence,” Egbo said. “I know if we aren’t getting much on the outside, that we need to get something on the inside. Get inside and have a big post presence and finish layups.”
Cox missed her second game in a row, and there is still no timetable for her return.
Bethy Mununga made a 3-pointer and a jumper in a 24-second span for South Florida in the fourth quarter to cut the gap to 45-42 before the Lady Bears finished with a 13-4 run — matching the same run they had to start the game before the Bulls came back.
Mununga had her fourth double-double this season, with 16 points and 12 rebounds. Elisa Pinzan scored 14 points with four 3-pointers.
“I’m proud of the kids. I say that sincerely because I looked up and all night we basically had two players from last year’s championship team on the floor,” Mulkey said. “We battled and it was good to see. I thought our defense was tremendous. Our offense, we’re not in the flow yet.”
Baylor shot only 36 percent (16 of 45) from the field, and struggled at the free-throw line as well at 64 percent (25 of 39).
“If you make a little bit more than we did from the foul line you might could have breathed a little more through the game,” Mulkey said.
Juicy Landrum added 10 points for the Lady Bears, including their only 3-pointer with just over a minute left in the game.
South Florida tied the game at 15-15 early in the second quarter before Baylor scored 10 in a row, including five by graduate transfer Te’a Cooper, who had 12 points.
South Florida: The Bulls faced their second ranked Big 12 opponent this year, having defeated then-No. 15 Texas 64-57 on Nov. 8. … Enna Pehadzic, who came into the game with a team-high 15.1 points a game, was limited to only three points on 1-of-10 shooting.
Baylor: The Lady Bears have a 33-game winning streak, plus have won 43 in a row at home overall and 53 consecutive non-conference games at home. … The Bulls defense proved to be a challenge Baylor, which turned the ball over 18 times, nearly five more than its average, and got outrebounded 35-33. Baylor also shot poorly from the free throw line, going 25-for-39.
South Florida hosts Saint Francis on Sunday before going to Mexico to play in the Cancun Challenge over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Baylor concludes its season-opening five-game homestand against Lamar on Thursday, then goes to the U.S. Virgin Islands to play in the Paradise Jam over Thanksgiving.
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