Vivian Gray defends

Vivian Gray defends against Georgia at The United Supermarket Arena on Dec. 2, 2021.

The Lady Raider basketball team will host No. 11 Baylor at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at the United Supermarkets Arena as they look to bounce back from two road losses and claim their tenth win of the season. 

Junior guard Bre’amber Scott and freshman forward Chantae Embry were the only two Lady Raiders who did not travel with the team during their recent road trip to Fort Worth and then Lawrence, Kansas.

Head coach Krista Gerlich said Scott missed the game with an illness and will remain unavailable until further notice. 

“I mean it just stinks,” Gerlich said. “She’s really battling. She’s okay, but she’s just having to battle an illness right now that we’re having to really monitor.” 

Freshman forward Lana Wenger and senior guard Lexy Hightower did not participate in the first road matchup against TCU, with Hightower suffering an ankle injury. However, both Lady Raiders were listed on Saturday’s roster against Kansas. 

Meanwhile, freshman forward Saga Ukkonen saw the court in Fort Worth but was listed as unavailable when the team traveled to Lawrence. 

In the first road battle against the TCU Horned Frogs, the Lady Raiders fell short 51-50 after senior forward Taylah Thomas missed a game-winning layup. 

In a recent press conference, Gerlich said the contest against TCU was full of missed opportunities. 

“Well, the TCU game I felt like our kids really did battle,” Gerlich said. “I thought we missed a lot of opportunities, obviously to close that game out and even throughout the game, but I felt like we still really battled on the road and I think that’s what you have to do. Unfortunately, that was a big time, heartbreaking loss.” 

The team followed up on Saturday with a chance to secure their third Big 12 win, but the Lady Raiders lost 71-57 despite a 31-point performance by senior guard Vivian Gray.

In the press conference, Gerlich said that while Gray remains largely consistent, she needs help. 

“Vivian did Vivian Gray things against Kansas,” Gerlich said. “We do have to have other kids step up as well, but I think it’s a matter of us being consistent all the way across the board. When Vivian is having an off night, [her teammates] need to continue to step up, and then when she’s on, we need to have other kids around her as well. It’s just a consistency thing.” 

The Lady Bears are currently 13-4, their most recent matchup against No. 13 Iowa State resulting in a win. Baylor is ranked fifth overall in the Big 12, averaging 75.2 points per game, while Texas Tech holds the eighth spot averaging 64.4 points per game, according to Big 12 Sports. 

According to BU Athletics, Baylor senior forward NaLyssa Smith had one of the most decorated seasons in school history during her 2020-2021 season, eventually named an All-American by five different organizations with four of them being first-team selections. 

Smith was crowned the honor of Big 12 Player of the Year last season, also receiving awards such as the Wade Trophy and Katrina McClain Award, according to BU Athletics.

Gerlich said this Baylor team is different from the years past and will be a tough one to beat. 

“They play a little different style, but it’s still Baylor that is very physical,” Gerlich said. “They’re very talented on the perimeter and athletic and they can shoot the ball well, and with NaLyssa Smith, as long as she’s in a Baylor uniform, they’re going to be very, very tough.” 

The Lady Bears are shooting 44.4% from the field and 34.7% from behind the arc this season, ranking third in the Big 12 on the offensive end, according to BU Athletics. 

Meanwhile, the Lady Raiders are ranking sixth offensively, averaging 44.2% from the field and 33.8% from behind the arc, according to Tech Athletics. 

The Lady Raiders will take on Baylor at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the USA, the first of two home games this week with a Saturday matchup against Iowa State on the horizon. Both games will be televised by Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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