December 22, 2020
Around the Big 12: Baylor breaks assists record; top transfers eligible
The Lady Bears had more assists than the Demons had points
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Baylor sets assist record, wins with historical margins
On Friday, Baylor set the NCAA single-game assists record, with 45 assists over the Northwestern State Demons. Want another impressive stat? The Lady Bears had more assists than the Demons had points.
The Lady Bears now lead the nation in rebounds, assists, and 2-pointers made per game. 10 of the 11 Baylor women registered at least one assist on Friday, with Hannah Gusters, who had a career-high 22 points, the lone demi-dropping holdout. Baylor’s 93-point margin of victory is the highest in the NCAA since 2016 when the Lady Bears defeated the Winthrop Eagles by 103 points.
Then, on Saturday, Baylor defeated McNeese State 117-24 — another 93-point victory. Kim Mulkey’s squads do not let up, even against their weakest opponents. Since 2016, the Lady Bears hold the four largest single-game margins of victory.
Put bluntly, something special is brewing in Waco. If Baylor’s margin of victory on Friday and Saturday was its own NCAA team, it would rank fifth in the nation in points per game. Mulkey said the blowouts gave her a clearer picture of her rotations.
“I’m a realist, I understand the level of competition we’ve played,” Mulkey said. “I got a better picture of what some kids can do to help us, what kids need to play together when we’re facing a man or a zone. So the more I can see in-game action, the more I learn.”
One change that could come quicker than expected: Mulkey said she eventually plans to move DiDi Richards back to the wing. Richards has been the lead point guard this season after spending most of her past three years at the 2 and 3. Richards’ shift to the point has allowed newcomers Sarah Andrews and Jaden Owens to become more comfortable within the offense.
Andrews, in particular, has benefited from an off-ball role, as she’s made at least two treys in her past four contests. Her shot-making ability is sorely needed for an offense that ranks last in the Big 12 in 3-pointers made (3.5 per game).
Texas and Baylor each add a difference-maker
Last week, the NCAA passed a blanket waiver giving all Division I transfers immediate eligibility this season. That’s good news for the two programs at the top of the conference.
Down in Texas, the Longhorns added junior center Lauren Ebo, a transfer from Penn State who started 17 games for the Lady Lions last season. In her sophomore year, the center averaged 5.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 0.7 blocks per game, and should help add depth at the post spot alongside star center Charli Collier and freshman standout DeYona Gaston.
Just three weeks ago, the NCAA denied Ebo’s eligibility request. It looks as if Ebo and the Longhorns got the last laugh.
“Anytime you get to add a player the caliber of Lauren Ebo is a great day,” head coach Vic Schaefer said. “This is something that all of us here at Texas, our administration and my staff, have been trying to get accomplished for quite some time.”
Through two games under Schaefer, the junior center is averaging 9.0 points and 6.0 rebounds. Her value comes on both ends of the floor, as she is an aggressive rebounder and post player who could potentially grow into a prolific shot-blocker. Come conference play, her length and size should be vital against the likes of Baylor and Kansas State.
At the top of the conference, Baylor added Jaden Owens, a facilitating guard from UCLA who was ranked as the third-best point guard in her high school class. Owens played just 9.8 minutes per game for the Bruins while backing up WNBA draft pick Japreece Dean, and her game never quite clicked within the offense. Baylor offers a fresh start for the 5’8 guard.
“Our team embraces transfers just like they do freshman recruits,” Mulkey said. “They understand you’re coming into a program that’s bigger than you.”
Throughout the season, Mulkey has mentioned that the team needs more experience and perimeter play. Owens offers the latter. Baylor was one of Owens’ final choices, and now she’ll have the chance to prove her worth as a playmaker in a post-centric offense. Through her first two contests, she is averaging 3.5 points and 5.0 assists while seeing 11.7 minutes per game.