WACO, Texas (AP) — Eleven wins in a row would lead to No. 7 Baylor celebrating 11 Big 12 regular-seasons titles in a row.
NaLyssa Smith scored 20 points, DiJonai Carrington had a double-double and the Lady Bears won their 10th game in a row Wednesday night, 70-51 over Oklahoma State to move within a win of at least a share of another conference title.
“I start thinking about conference championships when you get closer to clinching them,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “Obviously we don’t want to share it. We’ll need to win two more after tonight, but the fun part is if we can beat Kansas State here Saturday, you can celebrate on your home floor. … The confetti will fall and we’ll do all of that. But you’ve got to win the game first.”
The Lady Bears (18-2, 13-1 Big 12) took control by scoring the last 17 points before halftime. But that came after a miserable stretch of nearly 9 1/2 minutes when they blew all of an early 14-point lead with nine turnovers while missing 11 of 12 shots.
“Once we started clicking, and once we see one shot fall in, it’s kind of like, lets build off it now,” said point guard DiDi Richards, who had 11 assists. “And eventually that turned into a 17-0 run.”
Carrington had 12 points and 11 rebounds for Baylor. Queen Egbo had 13 points and Moon Ursin 11, while Egbo and Smith both had nine rebounds.
The Lady Bears still have four games to play, but Oklahoma State (17-7, 13-5) became the first Big 12 team to complete its regular season. The Cowgirls had won nine of their 10 games since a 77-58 home loss to Baylor on Jan. 20.
Natasha Mack had 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Cowgirls, and Ja’Mee Asberry had 15 points.
Baylor scored the game’s first seven points, and was up 16-2 when Egbo made a layup with 3:54 left in the first quarter. Mack then made a jumper to start a 19-2 run, which she ended with another jumper that made it 21-18 with 4:48 left in the second quarter.
Oklahoma State got 11 of its 21 first-half points off turnovers, taking the lead with consecutive baskets after turnovers by Smith. Mack’s steal led to a 3-pointer by Fields that put the Cowgirls up 19-18, and Neferatali Notoa had a steal that set up a Mack’s run-ending jumper — and their last points before halftime.
Smith then scored eight points in Baylor’s half-ending run, starting it and ending it with layups. After Smith blocked a shot in the closing seconds, Carrington got the rebound and passed to Smith for a breakaway basket to made it 35-21 at halftime.
“She saw we had enough time, and she just took off,” Mulkey said of Smith before referring to Carington’s pass. “For her to see I need to lead her right now, we don’t have time to do much dribbling, was a very alert play by two kids that had to know how much time was on the clock. …. That was a big momentum boost for us right there, with NaLyssa running the flor like that and DiJonai recognizing it.”
Oklahoma State: The Cowgirls lost their 11th consecutive game in the series against Baylor, but still had a record-breaking regular season. Their 13 league wins were a school record, two more than they had ever had — they had won 11 Big 12 games five times, the most recent in 2017-18.
“A team that’s fighting for second, third place in the league, and a good team, well-coached team, a team that just has my upmost respect because of what they’ve done all year,” Mulkey said. “Picked eighth in our conference, and look where they are.”
Baylor: Carrington has scored in double figures in all seven games since her return from missing four games because of COVID-19 protocols. It was her first double-double for Baylor after nine in her four years at Stanford.
Oklahoma State has a two-week wait until the start of the Big 12 tournament, which begins March 11 in Kansas City.
Baylor is home to play Kansas State on Saturday, then has three makeup games next week.
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