The Lady Raiders will travel to play their biggest challenge to date against No. 7 Baylor at 6 p.m. on Monday in Waco.
The Lady Bears have one of the most accomplished women’s basketball programs of the 2000s, having won three national titles in the same time span, including one last year under head coach Kim Mulkey.
The bears are off to a 3-1 overall start on the 2020-’21 season, with their lone loss coming against a solid, 13th-ranked Arkansas team. But Baylor bounced back in dominant fashion, opening Big 12 play with a 20-point victory against West Virginia.
Baylor’s offense utilizes an all-around attack, with the vast amount of talent they have, numerous players on the floor can get the job done on offense, but it has not been the most consistent this year.
According to Big 12 stats, Baylor’s offense is in the bottom four of the conference, statistically, and third-to-last in terms of efficiency; so how do they compile all of these dominant outings and a No. 7 rank?
The Lady Bears have one of the best defenses in the country.
With the majority of Baylor’s high-minute players being 6-foot or above, their length and athleticism poses a major threat for any offense, but the Mulkey-led defense is well-coached and mentally strong as well.
Rotations, switches and interior length has propelled the Lady Bears to the top ranked defense in the conference. According to Big 12 stats, the Lady Bears hold their opponents to the lowest field goal percentage in the conference; on a national scale, the same statistic is ninth in the country.
The on-court general for Baylor is fourth-year guard, DiDi Richards, who leads the conference in assists with over six per game. Her running mates on the scoring end are the tandem of Dijonai Carrington and Nalyssa Smith, who each average 14 points per game, according to Big 12 stats.
Despite Baylor’s dominance, history reflects a good matchup against the Lady Raiders.
Last year, 10 lead changes and a game down to the wire nearly resulted in a win for Tech over the, at the time, No. 2 ranked Lady Bears. Tech also put up 79 points, the most against Baylor all season long, according to Tech Athletics.
An integral piece to both outings was WNBA turned forward Brittany Brewer, who led in scoring both games, but right behind her was a junior Lexi Gordon, who averaged just over 17 points against Baylor on the year last year, and also a sophomore Chrislyn Carr, who averaged over 16 in the series.
Fast forward one year, both Carr and Gordon have caught their stride. Gordon is the eighth-ranked scorer in the conference with 15 points per game, and Carr is one of the most efficient shooters in the conference, having made nearly half her threes on the season through 15 attempts.
But the two are not alone; during the off-season, Tech added one of the most decorated scorers in the Big 12 conference, senior forward Vivian Gray.
With 17 points per game, Gray has bolstered Tech’s scoring in the majority of games.
The trio of Carr, Gordon and Gray are looking for a strong outing against their first test of the year in No. 7 Baylor.
As a team, Tech is off to a solid, 3-1 start, dropping a game to only Rice.
So far, the Lady Raiders have found success on both ends of the court, ranking fourth in the conference in both scoring offense and scoring defense, according to Big 12 stats.
After a questionable defensive outing against Rice, where miscommunications were prevalent and the Lady Raiders allowed numerous open shots, they showed the ability to bounce back the following game in a dominant, 87-42 win over Angelo State.
Tech will look to continue its momentum against Baylor on Monday to open conference play.