Waco, Texas—Not playing for the past 10 days and having to deal with the logistics of having to schedule a new team just days before made no difference on Nikki Collen’s Bears.
Baylor (10-2) ran away from North Texas (6-4) in the second half to defeat the Mean Green 86-65 to close out both their non-conference slate as well as 2021.
At 49.3 percent, the Bears shot 11 percent better—on 11 extra shots—than UNT as five players scored in double figures for Baylor: Smith (28 points), Jordan Lewis (13), Caitlin Bickle (13), Queen Egbo (12) and Sarah Andrews (11).
Smith recorded her 11th straight double double of the season as she grabbed 11 boards to pair with her 67 percent (14-of-21) shooting night. She has scored 20 or more points in four straight games.
Entering the game, Smith was leading the nation with 13.3 boards per game. It is her 35th career double double, which now ties Smith for seventh in program history (Lauren Cox and LaNita Luckey).
Egbo, after struggling in the Bears’ previous loss to Michigan with only four points, also recorded a double double with 11 rebounds. To compliment the post play, Baylor also shot 36 percent from beyond the arc (9-of-25). Both Andrews and Bickle each nailed three three-pointers. Bickle’s 13 points and three threes were a career high.
Baylor had an abundance of energy to begin the game. It was clear that they were excited to play a Texas opponent and ready to play a game after their 10-day hibernation. As per usual, Bickle showcased that energy immediately off the bench and teamed up with Smith to unleash hell.
Perhaps with a bit too much enthusiasm.
Bickle threw a perfect alley-oop to Smith with 1:30 left in the first quarter to make it 21-10. Smith then ripped an offensive rebound away one minute later to get an easy layup, but was given a technical foul immediately after for flexing on the opponent.
But UNT missed both free throws, Bickle drew a charge on Amber Dixon and Lewis (who also had seven assists) nailed a three to close a strong quarter. The momentum was squarely with the Bears.
To their credit, the Mean Green chipped away in the second quarter. They shot 35.3 percent from three, and went on a 16-7 run over a six minute span to cut the Bears’ lead to six with two minutes before halftime.
Aly Gamez (12 points) kicked off the run with a three and Jamison Jackson (14) also had two threes during the stretch. Quincy Noble, who led UNT with 18 points, also came alive after being shut out in the first quarter.
North Texas never got any closer than eight points in the second half, and Baylor used a 10-2 over the final 3:50 of the third quarter to build a 23-point advantage.
Baylor has now won 67-straight home non-conference teams and improves their record to 18-12 versus UNT in the team’s first meeting since 2006.
The Bears will travel to Kansas State on Sunday, January 2 to face the Wildcats in their Big 12 opener at 1 p.m. CST. North Texas’ next scheduled game is at UAB on Thursday, January 6 due to Covid-19 pauses in the Rice program.