Okonkwo’s surge too lit­tle, too late as Bay­lor tops TCU

Star-Telegram (Sunday) - - College Basketball - BY BAI­LEY ARREDONDO

TCU strug­gled to find its of­fen­sive rhythm and scored just 11 first half points as No. 4 Bay­lor rolled the Frogs, 79-55, on Satur­day in front of 3,844 at Scholl­maier Arena.

Los­ing its last two Big 12 road games, TCU (11-4, 1-3 Big 12) re­turned home with hopes of drop­ping a top-5 op­po­nent.

Bay­lor (13-1, 3-0 Big 12) came out calm of­fen­sively, but ag­gres­sive on the de­fen­sive end hold­ing TCU to 27 per­cent shoot­ing in the first quar­ter.

With not much fall­ing, the Frogs found them­selves down 16-9 head­ing into the sec­ond quar­ter.

Bay­lor’s 6-foot-7 post Kalani Brown, a Na­tional Player of the Year can­di­date, was a men­ace for Bay­lor, scor­ing 10 points and block­ing three shots in the first half.

TCU went ice cold in the sec­ond quar­ter as Bay­lor outscored the Frogs 19-2, with fresh­man Yummy Mor­ris’ be­ing the lone scorer with two free-throws.

“Slow starts to any Big 12 team is go­ing to be re­ally hard to re­cover from,” TCU head coach Rae­gan Pe­b­ley said. “I felt like our sec­ond half was much bet­ter, but our of­fen­sive in the first half was unin­spir­ing.”

The Bears forced 14 turnovers in the first half and held TCU to 14 per­cent shoot­ing across the board to build a 35-11 lead at the half.

TCU found some rhythm to start the sec­ond half but its deficit was sim­ply too much to over­come.

“We have to open games with that kind of pep,” Pe­b­ley said of Amy Okonkwo’s of­fen­sive spark in the sec­ond half. “That will­ing­ness to play your role, Amy is a scorer for us.”

Okonkwo was the first Frog to hit dou­ble-digit scor­ing, knock­ing down two 3-point­ers in the third quar­ter to to­tal 11.

In the fourth quar­ter, TCU full-court pressed and forced back-to-back Bay­lor turnovers to lead to a quick seven points.

A few quar­ters too late, Okonkwo started to heat up from the floor scor­ing seven points in the first three min­utes of the fourth.

Shoot­ing over 50 per­cent as a team, Juicy Lan­drum scored 16 of her game-high 23 points in the sec­ond half to lead Bay­lor over TCU.

“Work,” com­mented Pe­b­ley on what her mes­sage will be to her team fol­low­ing its third-straight loss. “Its work, and we have to set the tone stronger in prac­tice and our lead­er­ship has to be a lot stronger from our se­niors.”

Okonkwo fin­ished with 20 points and seven re­bounds, in­clud­ing four 3-point­ers. Jor­dan Moore posted her third dou­ble­dou­ble of the sea­son with 11 points and 10 re­bounds.

Kianna Ray’s 13 points all came in the sec­ond half.

Bay­lor forced 19 turnovers and shot over 50 per­cent from the field.

TCU will re­main at home as Texas Tech heads to Fort Worth on Wed­nes­day with a 6:30 p.m. tip-off.

RON JENK­INS AP

Bay­lor cen­ter Kalani Brown (21) looks to shoot af­ter get­ting past TCU for­ward Amy Okonkwo (00) dur­ing the first half Satur­day in Fort Worth. Bay­lor won 79-55.

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