Lubbock, TX—Texas Tech (9-10, 2-6 Big 12) could not overcome a slow start and ultimately suffered another close defeat—this time an 88-80 loss to Baylor (14-4, 4-2 Big 12).
The Bears did not miss a beat in the first half as the team was in a grove as they built a 16-point first half lead. Their confidence was sky high after destroying No. 7 Iowa State over the weekend where their lead got as high as 34. They continued their hot shooting in Lubbock with four out of six three-pointers made in the first half.
Vivian Gray and the Red Raiders had other plans after halftime. After a Rhule McKinney three made it a 38-51 halftime score, Gray kicked off a 12-0 run in the first three minutes of the third with a three of her own. Their tenacious defense forced Baylor turnovers and missed shots, while their aggressive offense got white hot.
The Red Raiders’ 15-0 run in just about three minutes of game time made it a 50-51 contest. It featured four made threes and one three-point play.
Finally though, Baylor broke through and the rivals traded baskets for the rest of the third quarter. Nobody played a larger role for the Bears than Sarah Andrews who scored nine of her 19 points (on 7-of-10 shooting) in the third, including a step back three-pointer at the buzzer to put the Bears up five.
Texas Tech had plenty of bullets left to fire as they climbed back from a seven-point deficit to tie the game at 79 with 2:36 left to play. Again, this was largely done due to their success from beyond the three-point line. They shot 73.3 percent and were 11-of-15 from deep. That nearly doubled Baylor’s efforts from deep, as the Bears only made 6-of-12.
Gray was the spark for the Red Raiders with 21 points, five assists and four rebounds; yet it was Bryan Gerlich who had a team high 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting coupled with seven assists. Taylah Thomas was also in double figure with 13 points; Lexy Hightower had three key threes to finish with nine points; and McKinney had eight points off the bench. The Red Raider bench was a perfect 3-of-3 from behind the arc as well.
Over the final 2:36, the Bears buckled down to go on a game-ending 9-1 run to win.
NaLyssa Smith was once again a key difference maker as the All-American dropped a game high 23 points and added nine rebounds. It was her 28th career game with 20 or more points.
However, everyone played well for the Bears, who needed everything they got. Ja’Mee Asberry and Queen Egbo each had nine points; Jordan Lewis had 16 points despite navigating foul trouble and Caitlin Bickle was a point shy of her career high with 12 points and seven rebounds off the bench.
Baylor only assisted on nine of their 32 made field goals (28 percent). They relied on Andrews and Smith in the second half to create and carry the load. The Bears were able to survive this scare, but need to find a way to maintain focus coming out of halftime and play their game if they want to claim another Big 12 title.
Baylor travels to West Virginia on Saturday for their final game of the month. The Red Raiders will host No. 13 Iowa State this weekend.