LUBBOCK — All hail the Queen.
Queen Egbo has played well in every game she’s played in for eighth-ranked Baylor, averaging 7.4 points and 4.5 rebounds in 12.5 minutes per game. Coming off her first career double-double against UT-Rio Grande Valley — she didn’t play in Thursday’s contest against UConn — the freshman made the most of the opportunity she was given inside United Supermarkets Arena as she stepped in for Kalani Brown who was mired in foul trouble and finished with a career high 19 points in 24 minutes on the floor.
The spark the 6-3 freshman brought led the Lady Bears to a 73-56 victory over Texas Tech in Baylor’s Big 12 opener. The win marked the third straight league opening victory for the Lady Bears.
“(Queen’s a) tremendous athlete. She can just elevate above you when she catches the ball on the block,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “She runs the floor just like a deer. She’s just so athletic. She was our spark plug today. She got fatigued there in the fourth quarter. That was a 30-point ball game. I subbed the bench, and it went down to 17. Needless to say, we didn’t finish it the way we played the entire day. She got fatigued there late, but she was a spark plug for us. She’s just getting better and better.”
Egbo also added 10 rebounds to her stat line alongside a block and a pair of steals.
“I feel good,” Egbo said in her postgame radio interview. “Coming in as a freshman, it feels good to get this type of experience on the road.”
Egbo wasn’t the only freshman for the Lady Bears to find success in her first conference game. NaLyssa Smith, fresh off big time play in a big time game against the Huskies, racked up 14 points and seven rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
Chloe Jackson and Brown also finished in the double figures with 11 and 10 points respectively, while Lauren Cox added three blocks. Baylor finished the contest shooting 47 percent from the floor, while its defense held Texas Tech to 31.3 percent. After holding Texas Tech to 7.9 percent from the floor in the third quarter, the Lady Raiders shot 63.6 percent in the fourth quarter.
Egbo and Smith weren’t the only two freshmen making an impact on the game. Texas Tech’s own Chrislyn Carr — who has been named the National Freshman of the Week once and the Big 12 Freshman of the Week twice — led the Lady Raiders with 19 points off 7 for 29 shooting in 35 minutes. Carr finished with a 4 for 17 mark from the 3-point line.
“She shoots it. She shoots it a lot,” Mulkey said. “When you shoot it that many times, which I guess for her team she has to, you’re going to make some. That’s what I told my kids is that, ‘My gosh, if you shoot it that many times, percentages are you’re going to make some.’ We knew that she would shoot it a lot.”
Behind Carr’s shooting, Texas Tech led for a little more than five minutes of the game as Baylor didn’t have an advantage until an and-1 play by Brown with 3:27 left in the first quarter. A jumper by Tech’s Brittany Brewer — who finished with eight points — put the Lady Raiders back on top before an and-1 play by Chloe Jackson put Baylor back on top for good.
From there, the Lady Bears closed the first quarter on a 7-0 run before building up to a 31-point lead with 5:59 to play.
“Because we’re the UConn in the Big 12, we know that we have the target on our back,” Mulkey said. “We’ve won it eight straight years. Any off night for us is a win for somebody else. They knew that when they signed to come into the program. We celebrated that win that night, then as I said in the press conference in the game, my focus was on Lubbock, Texas. You’re in the meat of your schedule now for 18 games. They know how hard it is, those upperclassmen. They know how physical it is. They know going on the road you’re going to get everybody’s best shot. I thought we did fine. Kalani got in foul trouble. She wasn’t necessarily needed in the fourth quarter, nor was Cox needed. It was a time for those other two freshmen post players to get minutes.”
Sunday’s win marked victory No. 550 for Kim Mulkey.
The win over Texas Tech marked the 27th straight road win against Big 12 opponents in the regular season with the last conference road defeat coming at the hands of Oklahoma State Dec. 30, 2015.