Jones leads No. 4 Baylor past No. 23 Oklahoma 78-70
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — Alexis Jones found her shooting stroke when the pressure was highest.
The junior guard scored eight of her 22 points in the final 5 minutes to help No. 4 Baylor hold off No. 23 Oklahoma 78-70 on Monday night.
Baylor nearly squandered a 19-point lead in the second half, but Jones made her final three field goals after the Sooners cut the Lady Bears’ lead to two points. She made just three of her first 12 shots before the strong finish.
“I thought Alexis Jones played well tonight,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “She gave us critical points when they cut the lead. I thought she got critical rebounds for us as well. She didn’t turn the ball over. She just played like a veteran out there.”
Baylor won its 15th straight game and improved to 9-0 against ranked opponents this season.
“It’s tough to win on the road,” Mulkey said. “When you lose a lead and you lose momentum and the crowd gets into it, you could very easily lose a game. I thought we took some good shots and made sure the right people were shooting the ball and just kind of responded.”
Nina Davis scored 14 points and Niya Johnson had 10 points, six rebounds and six assists for Baylor. The Lady Bears (28-1, 15-1 Big 12) expanded their lead over Texas to 1 ½ games in what has become a two-team race for the conference title.
Kaylon Williams had 14 points and eight rebounds, Vionise Pierre-Louis scored 12 points and Maddie Manning added eight points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma (18-9, 9-7).
Oklahoma missed 19 layups. An emotional Sooners coach Sherri Coale wasn’t sure how her team played so poorly.
“I liked the way we fought back in the second half,” Coale said. “That’s the only good thing I can find to say about that. I thought it was a horrible basketball performance.”
Baylor, which entered the game ranked third nationally in field goal percentage defense, held Oklahoma to 35.6 percent shooting.
Oklahoma trailed 16-8 after the first quarter, and Baylor extended its lead to 16 points before the Sooners rallied late in the first half. A three-point play by Williams trimmed Baylor’s lead to 36-26, and Baylor’s lead was 38-28 at halftime.
Baylor opened the second half on a 7-0 run to go up 45-28, but Oklahoma rallied late in the third quarter and trimmed the Bears’ lead to 56-45 heading into the fourth.
The Sooners cut their deficit to 62-60 midway through the fourth quarter, but couldn’t get closer.
Oklahoma went scoreless for the first 3:09 of the game and missed its first four shots, then went scoreless for the first 3:01 of the second half.
“It’s starting the game not afraid,” Coale said. “And starting both halves not afraid. That’s what it is. Playing with a sense of bravado, playing with some intensity, communicating with one another. That’s what it is.”
Baylor won, despite making just 19 of 34 free throws.
“We got to the foul line,” Mulkey said. “We missed 15 free throws. The kids that are missing them are the ones you need in the game, because they’re the ones that can get the boards. It’s one of those cases where they’ve got to figure it out and step up there. It’s big-girl basketball. Make your free throws.”
“We played hard when we were about to get embarrassed,” Coale said. “We didn’t play hard from the opening tip to the final buzzer.”
Baylor: Beat Oklahoma 78-68 earlier this season in Waco. ... Lost to the Sooners 68-64 in Norman last season. ... Johnson moved up to eighth place on the Division I career list with 924 assists.
Oklahoma: Fans wore pink for the school’s annual Play4Kay game. It was in honor of Kay Yow, the North Carolina State women’s basketball coach who died of cancer in 2009.
Baylor plays at Kansas State on Saturday.
Oklahoma hosts Iowa State on Saturday.
Follow Cliff Brunt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CliffBruntAP.