WACO, Texas (AP)No. 2 Baylor goes much deeper than its starting five, and coach Kim Mulkey is getting more confident in those players coming off the bench.
Mulkey is getting plenty of chances to use them all, and the defending national champion has another record winning streak.
Moon Ursin, one of the non-starters, had a career-high 22 points to lead five players in double figures as the Lady Bears set a new Big 12 record by winning their 45th straight regular season conference game, 91-51 over No. 17 West Virginia on Saturday night.
“Hard to do. Y’all have heard me say it a million times, I think people become spoiled. I think the fans become spoiled. I think they expect it. We don’t expect it,” Mulkey said. “We think actually it will be a lot tougher because of the success of the previous times. It’s not easy. I don’t care how it looks sometimes.”
Baylor starters were outscored 46-45 by their teammates coming off bench, even while playing 17 combined minutes more.
The Lady Bears (15-1, 4-0 Big 12) had matched their own record with their 44th Big 12 win in a row three days earlier in a 90-47 win at Kansas, when the starters sat on the bench the entire second quarter.
“I know everybody’s talented on our team. We practice against each other all the time. … It’s just a lot of talent coming off the bench,” said starting forward NaLyssa Smith, who had 10 points and 10 rebounds in just over 22 minutes Saturday.
Juicy Landrum had 14 points for Baylor, while fellow starter Te’a Cooper had 11 points in only 14 minutes. Queen Egbo added 10 points, and Lauren Cox had 13 rebounds.
Mulkey said her confidence because of how the non-starters are playing on both ends of the court – and who they are doing it against.
“They’re doing it against starters for the opposing team,” she said. “That’s when you know your team is pretty darn good.”
Baylor also extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 49 in a row, half of the 98 by then-No. 1 UConn had until the Lady Bears won there on Jan. 9.
Kysre Gondrezick had 15 points for West Virginia (13-3, 3-2), which shot only 26.2% from the field (17 of 65), and that was boosted by making 8-of-19 in the fourth quarter. Madisen Smith scored 12 points.
“We have no discipline right now,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey, who spent an extended time in the locker room with his team after the game expressing that message. “Bad shots, don’t reverse the ball, don’t move it, we’ve got people who are too much going 1-on-1. Bad shot leads to the layup on the other end.”
BIG 12 STREAKS
Baylor’s last regular-season Big 12 loss was at home to Texas on Feb. 6, 2017, a setback the Lady Bears avenged in Austin only two weeks later. They are coming off consecutive 18-0 Big 12 records, and also had two undefeated conference seasons and a national title during their 44 in a row from 2011 until January 2014.
Baylor retired the No. 13 jersey of former All-America forward Nina Davis before the game. Davis played for Baylor from 2013-17, and was on teams that made it to the NCAA Elite Eight each season. She is one of six players in school history with 2,000 career points and 1,000 rebounds.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers had have consecutive lopsided losses since a nine-game winning streak that included its first 3-0 start ever in Big 12 play – they lost lost 73-49 at home Wednesday to Oklahoma. WVU was holding teams to 57.8 points a game – a number the Lady Bears passed midway in the third quarter.
“Las two games, and I don’t know what it is,” Carey said. “They’re pressing. We played a little bit harder this game than we did against Oklahoma, but no discipline.”
Baylor: This win came against the Big 12’s only other ranked team.The Lady Bears had a 58-31 rebounding margin and shot 50.7% overall, with Ursin going 8-of-12.
The Lady Bears will likely stay No. 2 since South Carolina, the only team to beat them, won its only game this week by 33 points. The Gamecocks host No. 10 Mississippi State on Monday night.
West Virginia hosts Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
Baylor travels about 90 miles north to play at TCU on Wednesday night.
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