WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey didn’t really need to see much more of DiDi Richards in the second half of the senior guard’s most productive game since a scary collision in preseason practice left her temporarily without feeling below her knees.
The same could be said for rest of the starters in a second consecutive 93-point win for the No. 7 Lady Bears.
Richards made all six shots while scoring 12 of her season-high 14 points in the first half as Baylor rolled to another easy nonconference win, beating McNeese State 117-24 on Saturday.
The blowout came a day after after a 136-43 victory over Northwestern State. The 253 points in the two games are a Big 12 record, and three points short of Savannah State’s NCAA mark from November 2018.
NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo also scored 14 points while Smith had 11 rebounds as the Lady Bears (7-1) won their nation-leading 61st consecutive home game in their third blowout victory in four days.
Baylor won the three games by an average margin of 73 points and will take a holiday break before visiting TCU on Jan. 2, followed by No. 3 UConn at home five days later.
“We’re going to flush these last three games because we’re going to play more talented teams,” Mulkey said. “That’s not a knock on those teams. It’s just what we know when you get to conference how difficult it is. And then when you take the elite program that Connecticut is, we know what we face with those guys.”
Mychala Linzy scored five points for McNeese (0-7), which shot 13% (7 of 52), made 1 of 18 from 3-point range and had 38 turnovers that led to Baylor’s 56-6 edge in points off turnovers.
Richards missed the season opener after getting injured Oct. 24 in a mid-air collision with Moon Ursin during a practice scrimmage. After the scary loss of feeling in her lower legs, Richards returned quicker than expected.
The senior guard went to the court hard in a first-half collision with McNeese’s Shaela Gardner, holding the back of her head as she walked after teammates helped her up. But Richards stayed in the game and made her only two free throws after officials conferred and gave Gardner a foul.
“To go through what she went through, to be so unselfish that I didn’t even play her the second half,” Mulkey said. “DiDi Richards knows her spot on this team and where she stands. It’s a leadership thing just by her understanding she didn’t have a problem not playing the second half.”
Freshman Hannah Gusters scored a season-high 17 points and Jordyn Oliver added 15 as Baylor’s top five scorers had six baskets apiece and combined to go 30 of 38 from the field to help help the Lady Bears shoot 62% from the floor after they were at 68% against Northwestern State.
McNeese State: It’s been a rough nonconference season for the Cowgirls. Other than a one-point loss to East Texas Baptist, McNeese hasn’t had a losing margin closer than 21 points. The loss to Baylor was the second by at least 50.
Baylor: After setting an NCAA record with 45 assists against Northwestern State, the Lady Bears had 33 against McNeese, giving them at least 30 in three of the past four games. Jaden Owens, a UCLA transfer in her second game after getting eligibility clearance from the NCAA, led with eight assists. Richards and Ursin had six apiece.
HOME TO CALIFORNIA
Mulkey marveled at how her team hasn’t had a COVID-19 interruption while the Baylor football and men’s basketball teams have had plenty of issues, including men’s coach Scott Drew testing positive.
Now Stanford graduate transfer DiJonai Carrington is headed home to California for the break. She got a medical waiver for a final season with Baylor after being injured with the Cardinal last season. Carrington, who had nine points and seven rebounds, is from San Diego.
“It’s obviously tough going back out of state and to California, which is a hot spot right now,” Carrington said. “We made it this far. Just keep doing what we’re doing, wear marks, take all the precautions that we can. Just don’t put myself in situations to be vulnerable to get the virus. Just try to be safe, try to be smart and be mindful of who I’m around.”