FORT WORTH – No matter how good a defense plays, the offense needs to score. TCU’s zone defense has been effective in its second season in the Big 12 Conference and the goal against Baylor was to send the high-scoring Lady Bears back to the 60s.
Half a mission is not a mission accomplished. The Horned Frogs were unable to generate enough consistent scoring to knock off No. 6 Baylor. Even with Odyssey Sims, the nation’s leading scorer, being limited to a season-low 17 points, the Lady Bears (24-3, 14-1) stayed in first place in the league standings with a 69-46 victory at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum Saturday.
“It’s tough when you’re not hitting shots because you need points to win games,” said Zahna Medley, who had 13 points to lead TCU. “When your defense is playing well, you think that will turn into points. … I had good shots, a lot of open looks that felt good when they left my hand.”
The game started at 11 a.m. and TCU’s shooting touch missed the wake-up call. The first half was a series of rim-clanking attempts. The Horned Frogs made two of their first four in the first 1:30 of the half and two out of three over the last 1:08. The rest of the half? They missed 21 of 23 shots.
“We just couldn’t make any shots,” TCU coach Jeff Mittie said. “Even when you get an open look, they’re not easy to make because Baylor has length and speed to close out on shots. Credit Baylor. We couldn’t put together any offensive consistency.”
TCU (15-12, 6-9) went nine minutes without scoring and also had more turnovers (eight) than field goals (six) en route to a 30-15 deficit fueled by 20 percent shooting.
“I’d like to give credit to our defense but they got a lot of shots and just missed ‘em,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “We didn’t have the defensive pressure and intensity we normally have until the last 10 minutes of the game.”
TCU managed to score on consecutive possessions just five times. The Frogs’ best spurt was a 6-0 run capped by two Chelsea Prince free throws with 11:24 remaining. That trimmed Baylor’s lead to 40-31.
The next 15 TCU possessions produced just 10 points as the Lady Bears steadily pulled away, taking a 62-41 lead with 2:26 to play.
“When you play a team like Baylor, when you get open shots, you need to knock ‘em down,” Mittie said. “There were a couple of times when we were within striking distance and had opportunities. We left some plays out there we needed to make.”
Medley and Ventress, TCU’s top two scorers, combined to shoot 6-of-29. Sims finished 7-of-22 and at one point missed 11 of 12 shots.
“In the second half, I tried to drive and attack more,” said Sims, who was 7-of-22 from the field but had seven rebounds and seven assists.
Sophomore Niya Johnson also had seven assists as Baylor got the early edge that it maintained throughout by moving the ball quickly against the TCU zone.
“The teams that come in here don’t score a lot of points. TCU wants to keep the game low scoring,” Mulkey said. “They play their wings out high in the zone and that takes away a lot of passing angles, it’s almost a 2-2-1 zone. When we were able to work the ball around, we got a lot of post touches and took advantage of that.”
Indeed. With Sims scoring 13 points under her average, post players Nina Davis, Kristina Higgins, Khadijiah Cave and Sune Agbuke combined for 40 points on 25 shots.
“Baylor’s just got a lot of weapons and a lot of ways to beat you,” Mittie said. “They can win games a lot of different ways, with defense, with rebounding.”