WACO, Texas – The West Virginia University women’s basketball team fell to No. 1/1 Baylor 76-58 Saturday night at the Ferrell Center in Waco, Texas.
The scoring margin of 18 points was well under Baylor's season's average of defeating teams by 30.1 points and was the lowest scoring margin against the Lady Bears in all Big 12 games this season. The game took place in front of Baylor's 10th-largest all-time crowd with 10,245 in attendance.
Despite a season-high 22 points from junior Christal Caldwell
and a season-high 16 team steals, the Mountaineers (11-6, 3-3 Big 12) were dominated by the Bears (16-1, 6-0 Big 12) in the paint, with 43 points compared to WVU’s 26.
A large part of the work in the paint came from senior Brittney Griner, who recorded a double-double with 26 points and 15 rebounds, and was one block shy of a triple-double with nine.
“Great atmosphere, great crowd and a great place to play,” coach Mike Carey said. “I thought we competed for the most part. We missed a lot of foul shots. (Brittany) Griner is the best player in the country bar none.”
WVU shot only 32.8 percent (21-64) to the Bears’ 50.9 percent (28-55) from the field. The Mountaineers were also held to a season-low free throw percentage of 41.4 (12-29), while Baylor was 58.3 percent accurate (14-24). The Bears edged out WVU in rebounding 46-40.
WVU never let up, coming out of a 40-24 halftime deficit, recording only two less points than the Bears in the second half, 36-34.
Behind Caldwell, fellow junior guard Taylor Palmer
added 17 points and Jess Harlee
and Averee Fields
each chipped in five points. Crystal Leary
came off the bench for 15 minutes, dominating the boards for the Mountaineers, matching a career-best 11 rebounds.
Caldwell also led the Mountaineers in stealing with a career-best five steals, followed by Harlee with four and Bria Holmes
with two. The Mountaineers forced 19 Baylor turnovers, while limiting their own to 13.
“We turned them over like we felt we could 19 times. We didn’t get out-rebounded that bad and we tried not to miss foul shots and limit our turnovers, but Brittany (Griner) hit some big shots,” Carey explained. “She just opens up so many more people on the floor that you really wouldn’t have to help off of, but then they become effective and start getting hot.”
Behind Griner, junior guard Odyssey Sims added 15 points and Kimetria Hayden chipped in 10. Sims and Hayden also combined for four of Baylor’s six total 3-pointers (6-11), shooting 54.5 percent from beyond the arc as a team. WVU recorded four threes, with three from Palmer and a final trey from Harlee, for 28.6 percent (4-14) from 3-point range.
West Virginia returns home to face Texas Tech on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m., in the WVU Coliseum.