Waco, TX— No. 15 Baylor (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) came out on a mission against the No. 7 Iowa State Cyclones (16-3, 5-2 Big 12) and could do no wrong in an 87-61 victory that put the Bears right in the thick of the Big 12 title hunt.
With Baylor men’s basketball coach Scott Drew and head assistant Jerome Tang cheering in the Bear Pit student section, Coach Nicki Collen’s team crushed Iowa State’s will as they built a lead that went as high as 34.
Take your pick of any individual performance or other-worldly defensive statistic from Baylor to lead the highlights for this route.
Baylor held Iowa State to shot 32.7 and 25.9 percent from the field and three respectively—well below their season averages. The Cyclones were ranked second in the nation in made threes per game, averaging about 10.6. They were also ranked 12th in the country in three-point percentage at 38 percent.
Before two three-pointers by Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw (11 points) in the final two minutes of the game, Iowa State had only made five threes on 20 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
Point guard Jordan Lewis poured in a game high 24 points on 9-of-11 shooting from the floor (6-of-7 from three-point land) and added six assists. The Bears made 12 threes in total with Sarah Andrews knocking in four, and both Ja’Mee Asberry and Jaden Owens each adding one.
The Bears were firing on all cylinders so much that Andrews (18 points on 7-of-13 shooting and 4-of-5 from three) even banked in a triple with under three minutes to play to make it 85-51.
Together the guard duo of Andrews and Lewis totaled 42 points and 11 assists. The Bears assisted on 26 of their 32 made field goals (81.25 percent). They also combined to make 10 threes. This was the fourth time this season that Baylor has made 10 or more three-pointers. From 2013-21 under Hall of Fame Coach Kim Mulkey, Baylor had only accomplished that five times over 281 contests (1.78 percent).
In the post, Queen Egbo had 14 points and an unforgettable 21 rebounds (nine offensive) to anchor the Bears. She had 10 of her rebounds in the second quarter where Baylor really created separation and turned a one-point deficit into an 11-point halftime advantage. Many of Egbo’s offensive boards turned into Lewis swishes as the five-star played with a fiery tenacity.
NaLyssa Smith played like an All-American in the second half and finished with 17 points—many on smooth jump shots—and six rebounds. She had a terrific AND-1 and then jumper on back-to-back Caitlin Bickle assists that capped a 19-0 Bears’ run over four and a half minutes in the third quarter and increased the Baylor lead from eight to 27.
For Baylor, good things came in threes as Egbo had three steals, three assists and three blocks to help smother the Cyclones. Smith also had three blocks on the defensive end and the Bears, inspired by Bickle (6 points), took three charges in the fourth quarter.
The only area of improvement to point out for the Bears after today is their end of quarter defense. They led 12-7 with under a minute to play in the first quarter and let Iowa State nail their first three of the afternoon. Instead of holding for the final shot, Smith seemed to rush a jumper, which allowed Ashley Joens to make a three at the buzzer and give the Cyclones the lead. Joens finished with a team high 19 points on 4-of-14 shooting, seven rebounds and three assists.
After dealing with a Covid pause and finding themselves in dead last of the early Big 12 standings, Baylor is now right back in it. Along with the Bears and Cyclones, there are five total teams with two conference losses: Kansas State, Oklahoma and No. 14 Texas. There is still work to be done for the Bears who are 3-2, while Texas is 4-2 and the other three teams are 5-2.
Still it will be nice for Coach Collen—who has faced a ton of criticism for a vast number of reasons— to get a big victory under her belt as the team seems to be fully healthy (Owens left the game holding with what looked to be a hand injury) and mentally in sync moving forward. They travel to Texas Tech this Wednesday which will be on ESPN+.
Iowa State, after losing two straight, will host Kansas this Wednesday also on ESPN+. The Cyclones are attempting to win their first Big 12 regular season championship since 2000 when they shared the crown with both Oklahoma and Texas Tech.