KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — NaLyssa Smith scored a career-high 37 points to help No. 4 Baylor rout No. 21 Oklahoma 91-76 in the first semifinal of the Big 12 women’s tournament Saturday.
Smith’s previous high was 35 earlier this year against Texas Tech.
The Bears used a 28-16 advantage in the third quarter to blow open a close game. Smith accounted for 14 points in the quarter and she headed to the fourth with 33 points.
“It feels great,” Smith said after the game. “Personal goals help the team goals at the same time. So me playing my hardest and getting a career high at the end of the day helps our team win.”
The Bears will face the winner of Saturday’s second game, between No. 10 Iowa State and No. 7 Texas.
Baylor (27-5) also got a career-high 21 points from Caitlin Bickle. Smith pulled down 11 rebounds. Queen Egbo had 11 points.
“Our staff told me going into the game that scoring in the paint is the difference when Oklahoma wins and loses,” Bickle said. “Anything I can do for this team, whether it’s scoring, rebounding or doing extra plays, I’m all for it.”
Oklahoma (24-8) was led by Madi Williams with 28 points. Taylor Robertson added 17.
“There were moments today where we feel good about, and there were moments we don’t,” Oklahoma coach Jennie Baranczyk said. “Obviously, NaLyssa Smith is one of the best players in the country. I don’t know what we can do with NaLyssa Smith.”
Baylor pulled away quickly in the second half, scoring the first seven points of the third quarter and led 61-42 after Sarah Andrews hit a 3-pointer and Smith converted an alley-oop layup.
“This was obviously a little personal for us,” Baylor coach Nicki Colleen said, citing the fact that Oklahoma swept the regular-season series. “This was about lining up and doing what we do best. I told them we may be boring tonight, but we’re going to touch the paint, simplify it, run horns and until they stop it, we’re not going to stop running it.”
The lead ballooned to 24 points before Oklahoma finished the quarter on a 9-6 run. But it was too big of a deficit to overcome.
Baylor’s first half was all about its bigs, as Smith led all scorers with 19 points and Bickle added 15. Williams had 15 points to lead Oklahoma, which also got 11 points from Robinson.
Oklahoma: The Sooners have a star of their own in Madi Williams. The Sooners should have a good seed in the NCAA Tournament. Their bigger concern is the health of Skylar Vann, who was injured late in the game and walked off the court on crutches with an ice bag on her left knee. Baranczyk said she had no report immediately after the game.
Baylor: The Bears should continue to feed the post with Smith, who has been in double figures every game this season.
GOOD DAY FOR THE SMITHS
Smith’s father and brother, Rodney Sr. and Rodney Jr., combined to win the halftime shootout and the $6,600 prize in gasoline from title sponsor Phillips 66. The elder Smith hit a halfcourt shot to win it.
Oklahoma: waits for its next opponent and location when the NCAA Tournament selection is announced Sunday night.
Baylor: will play the winner of No. 10 Iowa State and No. 7 Texas.