WACO, Texas (AP) — DiDi Richards is playing at different spots for No. 2 Baylor, and keeps contributing on both ends of the floor.
Richards came up just short of a triple-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists, while also guarding the Big 12’s leading scorer, and the Lady Bears won their 48th consecutive regular-season Big 12 game with an 83-62 win over Iowa State on Tuesday night.
“DiDi is just finding players that are open and she’s playing all three perimeter positions. One minute she’s at the point. The next minute I’ve got her at the off-guard. The next game I’ve got her at the four. DiDi will find you if you get open,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “I’m really impressed with not turning the ball over. And four blocks. She’s wiry. She’s wiry big. She’s tall, lanky. Wiry is a compliment.”
Juicy Landrum scored 22 points and Te’a Cooper had 19 with a career-high five 3-pointers for the Lady Bears (18-1, 7-0 Big 12). Lauren Cox also had a double double with 16 points and 10 rebounds, plus five assists of her own. Queen Egbo had 12 points and eight rebounds.
“(Baylor) may be better than they were last year. When you have perimeter shooting the way they have, the size and strength they have, just an outstanding team,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said of the defending national champions. “They play the game the right way. They play hard. Very physical.”
The Lady Bears also have the nation’s longest home court winning streak at 51 games. Their last home loss was 85-79 to Texas on Feb. 6, 2017, which was also the last time they lost a conference game during the regular season.
Iowa State (12-7, 4-4) played without junior starting point guard Rae Johnson, who was out because of back soreness. and Ashley Joens had a tough night against Richards as the Cyclones had their three-game winning streak snapped.
Joens, who entered the game averaging 22.4 points and 10.6 rebounds, finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. She was shooting 48.5% percent, the best for league guards, before going 3-of-11.
Maggie Espenmiller-McGraw had 17 points to lead the Cyclones. Kristin Scott had 15 and Jade Thurmon 14.
Cooper’s 3-pointer off a Cyclones turnover started a 12-2 run over the final four minutes of the first quarter for Baylor for a 24-13 lead. Cox scored six points for the Lady Bears in a 10-1 spurt to start the second quarter, and they went on to a 49-26 halftime lead before getting outscored 36-34 after the break.
Said Fennelly, “I thought in the first half we had some kids who didn’t want the ball, kind of hid a little bit.”
NaLyssa Smith, Baylor’s leading scorer who missed two games with a high ankle sprain, entered on the first timeout. She finished with two points on 1-of-4 shooting with four rebounds in 12 minutes.
“I’m just glad I could give her some minutes. She’s as anxious to get out there as I am for her to be out there,” Mulkey said. “You can tell she’s hesitant a little bit. You can tell she’s not Nalyssa out there at full speed. But she needed to get up and down the floor in a game setting.”
Iowa State came into the game ranked nationally making 80.2% of their free throws, but was only 12-of-23 (52.2%) .
“Probably the only disappointing thing for me, the one thing they can’t guard,” Fennelly said. “That part’s a little disappointing. It wouldn’t have changed the game, but for us moving forward, we’ve got make sure we focus on that a little bit more.”
Iowa St: The Cyclones trailed by 19 points before making their first 3-pointer midway through the second quarter, after missing their first six shots from long range. Espenmiller-McGraw’s 3 got Iowa State within 34-18. … They finished 8-of-25 on 3s.
Baylor: The Lady Bears have won 67 of their last 68 regular season conference games since losing their Big 12 opener at Oklahoma State on Dec. 30, 2015. … Baylor finished 9-of-18 on 3-pointers, with seven of the makes before halftime. “I find it funny we scored more 3’s than Iowa State,” Mulkey said.
Iowa State is on the road again to play at West Virginia on Sunday.
Baylor travels about 100 miles south to play at Texas in a rare Friday night game in the Big 12.
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