Lawrence, KS— For the second consecutive road game the Bears found themselves scrambling after squandering a 75-71 lead with under four minutes to play. Somehow Baylor (11-4, 1-2 Big 12) managed to go on a 7-0 run in the final 11 seconds to beat Kansas (11-3, 2-2 Big 12) 82-79.
At Phog Allen Fieldhouse, Kansas used an 8-0 run to take a 79-75 lead with 25 seconds to play. The lead stayed at four when Aniya Thomas missed the second free throw and Baylor grabbed the rebound facing a dire situation.
Coach Nicki Collen advanced the ball to the front court on a timeout and designed a play for Jordan Lewis who drove left down the lane but missed a difficult runner. Sarah Andrews—who finished with a game high 25 points and added six assists— grabbed the offensive rebound and shoveled the ball to Ja’Mee Asberry (20 points) for a three with 11 seconds left.
The Bears have been so close so many times this season already in the fourth quarter that in the huddle, there was a sense of calm. Despite the collapse in Norman just a few days prior and even missing a three on their last possession out of a timeout, Baylor felt confident.
Asberry said that “no one was panicking” while in the huddle and Andrews added that “they came together as one” in that moment. The Bears’ character has been tested all year as adversity has been hurled their way, and yet they continued to show resolve. This time it ended in a win.
Down one, Baylor still needed a break. They received it on the ensuing inbounds play when Lewis stole the ball, was fouled and hit two free throws to put the Bears up one. NaLyssa Smith grabbed an emphatic rebound to secure her 12th double double of the season (15 points and 10 boards) and Baylor’s first Big 12 victory of the season.
Collen said that was the challenge that she presented to the team after the loss to Oklahoma. She point blank asked them “are you ready to quite or are you ready to figure this out.”
Kansas started off the game with a 7-2 run and led 20-14 as Holly Kersgieter made a three at the first quarter buzzer. In the second quarter, Baylor immediately took command by hitting five three-pointers during a 23-8 run that gave the Bears a 37-28 lead. The Jayhawks battled back and hit another three-point buzzer-beating shot, this time by Zakinthos Franklin, cut the Baylor lead to five at half.
Kansas tied the game at 60 at the end of the third before Baylor’s Asberry hit a three to beat the third quarter buzzer and give the Bears a 63-60 edge. The fourth quarter was then back and forth with both teams blowing four-point leads in the closing minutes.
Each team shot an excellent percentage from the field with Kansas shooting 50 and 52.6 percent from the field and three respectively. Ioanna Chatzileonti and Franklin each had 20 points for the Jayhawks and Kersgieter had a team high 23 points with five made threes.
While the Jayhawks made 10 threes, the Bears sunk 14 threes (48.3 percent)—which is tied for second in program history. Asberry made six threes and Andrews became one of six Bears in program history to make seven threes in a game.
For the Bears, who could not get over the fourth quarter hump in their losses against Maryland, Michigan, Kansas State and Oklahoma, the victory provided a huge sigh of relief. It was finally Coach Collen’s first Big 12 victory as a head coach as she look to guide Baylor out of the cellar to be in a position to win their 12th straight Big 12 championship.
What looked like was going to be a Baylor loss to the Jayhawks for the first time since 2014—and lose more than two Big 12 conference games in a season for the first time in over a decade— turned into a potential season changing momentum win.
Collen, referencing the Baylor men’s recent loss on Saturday and her team’s own slow Big 12 start, said she was happiest for her kids and staff to get this win, but also thought that the ‘Baylor family’ probably really needed this win too.
Baylor will host Oklahoma State this Wednesday at 7 p.m. at the Ferrell Center. The game will be televised on ESPN+.