NORMAN, Okla. — The Baylor Lady Bears found the offense they needed in the first half, then clamped down on defense in the second half to fend off Oklahoma.
Baylor scored the first eight points of the third quarter and didn’t let Oklahoma come back as the Lady Bears grasped a 77-66 victory on Sunday at the Lloyd Noble Center.
The seventh-ranked Lady Bears held the Sooners to 11 points in the third quarter and just 13 in the fourth to post the win. In doing so, Baylor (17-2, 12-1 Big 12) maintained a 1.5-game lead over No. 19 West Virginia in the conference standings.
Although Oklahoma is sixth in the Big 12, Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said this was a better win than it might appear on paper. The Sooners had defeated Iowa State and West Virginia in the last two weeks.
“We just beat what I consider the hottest team in the Big 12 right now,” Mulkey said. “When I say hot, I mean they’re playing good.”
DiJonai Carrington came off the bench to lead Baylor with 19 points. She and guard Moon Ursin filled up the basket in the first half. Ursin finished with 17, forward NaLyssa Smith added 16 and guard DiDi Richards had 11 to give the Lady Bears four players in double digits.
Madi Williams scored a game-high 21 points to lead Oklahoma (8-10, 5-8).
But the Sooners couldn’t stop Baylor from getting to the basket either in transition or the half court game. The Lady Bears scored 42 points in the paint and 20 on fast breaks.
“They were really out on the perimeter. They were trapping on ball screens, they were trying to get the ball out of our hands on the perimeter,” Carrington said. “So that really opened up the driving lanes and that’s what I tried to take advantage of.”
Baylor and Oklahoma went to halftime tied at 42 following a first half of sweeping scoring runs.
The Sooners pushed ahead, 18-15, late in the first quarter. But the Lady Bears punched back by scoring the final seven points of the period on an Ursin 3-pointer and two Carrington layups.
Baylor extended the surge into the second quarter and took a 30-20 lead when Ursin got to the basket for a layup that capped a 15-2 run.
But Oklahoma fought back.
The Sooners made four 3-pointers, including a couple by Gabby Gregory, during a 20-2 spurt. With that, Oklahoma went from a 10-point deficit to an eight-point advantage with 2:20 left before the break.
“I think they came out on fire,” Mulkey said. “You just stay the course with what you’re doing defensively because fatigue at some point, when kids are playing that many minutes, is going to set in and they’re going to start missing those shots.”
The swings weren’t finished as the Lady Bears finished the second quarter on a 10-2 run powered by Carrington. The graduate transfer guard hit a 3-pointer to stop the Sooners’ surge, then went to the basket in transition for a layup and completed a 3-point play that tied the game at 40.
Mulkey pointed to Sarah Andrews’ transition layup late in the second quarter as key to the Lady Bears pulling even.
The Baylor frontcourt duo of Smith and Queen Egbo got in foul trouble and played a combined 20 minutes through halftime. In their place, Carrington had 16 and Ursin added 15 as they picked up the scoring load.
“Obviously, Lyss and Queen were in a little bit of foul trouble so we knew we had to step up and help produce on offense,” Carrington said.
On the other half of the stat sheet, Williams scored 16 points by the break as she made 8 of 10 shots.
Richards and Trinity Oliver each had a pair of baskets as Baylor began the third quarter on an 8-0 streak.
The Sooners cut the margin back to three points on Williams’ 3-point play midway through the third.
But Baylor responded by pushing the lead to 10 when Smith got an inside bucket with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
Oklahoma didn’t get inside double digits in the fourth quarter.