Defense had been Baylor’s calling card all season and that continued in the Big 12 Championships Sunday afternoon as the No. 6 Bears defeated No. 17 West Virginia, 76-50.
It is Baylor’s ninth conference championship in the last 10 tournaments and the Bears’ third in a row after the 2020 tournament was canceled last season. Baylor (25-2, 18-1 Big 12) held West Virginia (21-6, 13-6) to 27 percent shooting in the game and just 18.8 percent shooting from 3-point range.
“Needless to say, we didn’t shoot the ball well,” WVU coach Mike Carey said. “But, you’re not going to shoot the ball well when you don’t reverse the ball and move the ball…We ran about four different offenses and a bunch of quick-hitters. It doesn’t matter what you run if you don’t move the ball and execute.”
Despite the poor shooting numbers and the lopsided final score, West Virginia was in the game for the first three-quarters of play. At halftime, WVU only by 10, 38-28 at halftime and heading into the fourth quarter, 52-42.
“We held them pretty good too, it’s not like they were just scoring all these points,” Carey said. “When our defense was set, they didn’t score a lot. It was when we took bad shots and they got on the break and got wide-open shots.”
Baylor pulled away late, out-scoring WVU 24-8 in the fourth quarter.
“I’m proud of them,” Carey said. “They had a great tournament and it was great to be in the championship, but we’re better than what we played today.”
After holding WVU’s leading scorer, Kysre Gondrezick, to just seven points in the regular-season finale, the Bears again stifled the senior on Sunday. Gondrezick, a unanimous All-Big 12 First Team selection, was held scoreless in the first quarter and scored just four points in the first half. Her first points came on a pair of free throws with 2:36 in the second quarter and her first made field goal came with less than a minute left in the first half.
Gondrezick finished the game with 13 points on 4 of 17 shooting. Kirsten “KK” Deans finished as the Mountaineers’ leading scorer with 15 points and Esmery Martinez finished with eight points and 11 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
Queen Egbo led the Bears with 18 points and 11 rebounds. Dijonai Carrington scored 14 points, Moon Ursin had 12 and Big 12 Player of the Year NaLyssa Smith scored nine.
West Virginia will now head back to Morgantown and wait to find out their first opponent in the NCAA tournament during Monday’s selection show.
“We need to put [the loss] behind us,” Carey said. “We’ll pout today and then tomorrow we need to forget about it, we need to move on. Once we find out who we’re playing [in the NCAA tournament], then our concentration needs to be on who we’re playing and forget about this game.”