FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — The quick rematch felt a lot like the first meeting for the No. 7 Baylor women and TCU.
The Bears hope there’s a little more deja vu in their near future.
NaLyssa Smith scored 23 points, Queen Egbo had 14 points and 12 rebounds and Baylor pulled away after halftime again Saturday, winning 78-59 for a second victory in four days over the Horned Frogs, and 33rd in a row in the series.
Baylor (21-5, 11-3 Big 12) matched its season best with a sixth consecutive victory and moved a half-game ahead of sixth-ranked Iowa State atop the Big 12. The Cyclones played No. 15 Oklahoma later Saturday.
The Bears have won the last 11 Big 12 regular-season titles, but under new coach Nicki Collen lost their first two conference games. They moved into first place for the first time this season with the first victory over TCU.
Collen said she thought she saw a stat from before the first meeting with the Horned Frogs that said the Bears went from last to first in the conference in exactly a month.
“And we did that by going 1-0,” Collen said. “We did that by challenging them to get better every day. I felt like this league was good enough that people were going to take hits along the way.”
The Bears beat TCU 80-55 at home Wednesday in a game that was rescheduled from January because of COVID-19 issues at Baylor. It’s the first time the schools have met in back-to-back games.
Okako Adika had 23 points and nine rebounds and Lauren Heard scored 12 points for the Horned Frogs (6-17, 2-12), who haven’t beaten Baylor since Feb. 28, 1990 and are 0-21 in the series since joining the Big 12.
TCU has lost nine consecutive games, its longest skid since dropping the first 13 conference games in the school’s first Big 12 season, 2012-13. The Horned Frogs trailed by three at halftime, matching the deficit from the game in Waco, before getting outscored 26-13 in the third quarter.
“Elusive 40-minute game,” coach Raegan Pebley said. “It’s still an issue for us. I thought we played really well, very similar to how we played in the first half there. Nearly almost the exact score. Just that start to third was tough.”
Baylor forced turnovers on three of TCU’s first four possessions in the third quarter, and Sarah Andrews gave Baylor its first 10-point lead at 41-31 with a 3-pointer that got the loudest cheers to that point from the pro-Baylor crowd.
The Bears pushed their lead to 52-36 on a 16-5 run capped by a layup from Smith, who was 10 of 16 from the field. Andrews and Jordan Lewis added 12 points apiece.
“We’ve yet to play our best basketball,” said Andrews, who had a game-high seven assists. “So hopefully when March comes we’re playing our best basketball. Each and every game, we’ve just grown. I see something new each and every game that we’ve gotten better at.”
Baylor: Egbo managed her fourth consecutive double-double despite her production slowing as her foul trouble worsened. She had nine rebounds at the half. The second-half struggle was highlighted by a technical that also counted as a personal foul. Smith had trouble of her own, watching Baylor take control early in the third from the bench because of three fouls. Smith played just 24 minutes.
TCU: The second-half fade has been persistent for the Horned Frogs. It happened a week ago at home in a 23-point loss to Iowa State. Seven of the nine losses on the losing streak have been by double digits.
The Bears should regain their familiar perch as the highest-ranked Big 12 team in The Associated Press poll. Iowa State’s loss to No. 14 Texas the same night as the Bears’ first win over TCU gave Baylor the opening.
Baylor: At Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
TCU: Oklahoma at home Wednesday in the fourth of what should end up being five consecutive games against ranked teams.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25