Smith 35 points as No. 5 Baylor women clinch Big 12 outright

Smith 35 points as No. 5 Baylor women clinch Big 12 outright

Fox News Sunday – Sunday, March 6

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NaLyssa Smith had a career-high 35 points with 12 rebounds in her senior day game for fifth-ranked Baylor, and the Bears clinched the outright Big 12 women’s title with an 82-57 win over Texas Tech in the regular-season finale Sunday.

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The Bears (25-5, 15-3 Big 12) were guaranteed at least a share of their 12th consecutive Big 12 title and 13th overall after an 87-62 win at ninth-ranked Iowa State last Monday. Baylor had to beat Texas Tech for the outright championship after the Cyclones ended their regular season with win Saturday night at West Virginia.

Bryn Gerlich had 12 points and Taylah Thomas 12 for Texas Tech (11-18, 4-14), which as a team wasn’t able to outscore Smith by herself until the second half. Smith had 22 points at halftime, when Baylor had a 45-22 lead. Vivian Gray finished with 10 points, held to half of her season average.

Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith (1) shoots against Texas Tech defenders Tatum Veitenheimer (32), Ella Tofaeono (1) and Vivian Gray (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Waco, Texas, Sunday, March 6, 2022.

Baylor forward NaLyssa Smith (1) shoots against Texas Tech defenders Tatum Veitenheimer (32), Ella Tofaeono (1) and Vivian Gray (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Waco, Texas, Sunday, March 6, 2022.
(AP Photo/LM Otero)

After Smith’s two free throws in the opening minute, Tech tied the game at 2-2 before Smith and Gray traded jumpers for a 4-4 tie. The Bears then built a four-point lead before Smith’s fastbreak layup that began her stretch of 12 consecutive points over a four-minute span.

Gray’s free throw with 8:07 left in the third quarter was Tech’s 23rd point, one more than Smith at the time. Smith immediately followed with a layup for her 24th point before the Red Raiders had consecutive field goals for the first time in the game though that 22-point deficit was the closest they would be the rest of the game.

A day after the reigning national champion Baylor men celebrated a share of their second consecutive Big 12 title with a win at home ver Iowa State, more green and gold confetti fell onto the court for a championship celebration. The women were presented their latest trophy on a stage with a long table in front of that with the 12 previous trophies on display.

Jaden Owens had 13 points on 5-of-5 shooting, including three 3-pointers, for Baylor. Smith finished with her 21st double-double this season and 49th in her 127 career games.

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BIG PICTURE

Texas Tech: The Red Raiders were coming off an 83-79 win over TCU in their home finale, after losing 10 of their previous 11 games.

Baylor: After winning the last 11 Big 12 titles under Kim Mulkey, Baylor lost their first two conference games under new coach Nicki Collen. But the only loss since for the Bears was when Oklahoma hit a buzzer-beating shot. They carry a 10-game winning streak into the postseason.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Baylor could move into the top four for the first time this season. Fourth-ranked Louisville is coming off a stunning loss to Miami in the quarterfinal round of the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament

UP NEXT

The Big 12 tournament in Kansas City. Texas Tech, the No. 8 seed, plays Oklahoma State on Wednesday night. That winner of that first-round game faces Baylor in a quarterfinal game Thursday.

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