Here is everything you need to know about the West Virginia Mountaineers and the Baylor Bears in our West Virginia vs. Baylor Big 12 women’s basketball preview.
5 p.m. Central Time, Saturday, Feb. 12, 2022, Ferrell Center, Waco, Texas.
TV: Big 12/ESPN+
Records: West Virginia: 11-10 (4-7 in Big 12); Baylor: 18-5 (8-3 in Big 12).
Ranking: West Virginia: None. Baylor: No. 10 (Associated Press).
Last game: West Virginia: lost to Kansas, 65-47; (Feb. 9); Baylor: def. Kansas State, 95-50 (Feb. 9).
Previous meeting: Baylor 87, West Virginia 54 (Jan. 29).
G Ja’Naiya Quinerly: With KK Deans out for the rest of the season, Quinerly is one of the guards that needed to pick up the slack. She put together a 22-point game against Kansas on Wednesday. That’s her third game in double figures in the last five, and during that span she’s averaged 12.8 points, with starts in her last three games.
F Esmery Martinez: She’s averaging 10.7 points and 8.2 rebounds per game this season, but she’s coming off a contest in which she had five points and 11 rebounds against Kansas. But, in the game before, Martinez played just seven minutes and didn’t score a point. That snapped a five-game streak in which she scored in double figures, including a 13-point game against Baylor.
F Kari Niblack: She’s averaging nearly eight points per game, which is third best on the team. She had nine points and four rebounds against Kanas, but in the game before against Oklahoma, the double-overtime loss, she had a double-double — 22 points and 12 rebounds, her best statistical game of the season.
F NaLyssa Smith: Smith is up for every conceivable award you can think of this season, including the recently-announced Katrina McClain Power Forward Award, which she won last year. Smith’s versatility and range makes her one of the most difficult players in the country to guard. She’s one of two players in the country averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and one assist per game.
G Jordan Lewis: Lewis is on the Top 10 list for the Nancy Lieberman Point Guard of the Year award. She put on a clinic as to why in the Kansas State game, when she scored a team-high 24 points, grabbed four rebounds, dished out seven assists and had two steals as the Wildcats cruised to victory.
C Queen Egbo: She had 19 points and 16 rebounds against Kansas State, and that’s an example of the production she can put together when she’s not in foul trouble. The fact that she put that night together against the formidable presence of Kansas State’s Ayoka Lee is impressive.
The season-ending injury to KK Deans left the Mountaineers without their best scorer, so it’s quite the feat that they were able to push Oklahoma to double overtime last Saturday without her. Still, the Mountaineers have lost three of their last four, and the emergence of Quinerly on offense should help the Mountaineers stay competitive. After the Baylor game, West Virginia has two ranked teams remaining, so there’s enough opportunity for the Mountaineers to stay above .500 going into the Big 12 Tournament.
It’s safe to say that Baylor has figured it out. The Bears have won three straight, but more importantly they’ve won eight of their last nine since their 0-2 start to Big 12 play. That’s allowed Baylor to pull within a game of both Iowa State and Oklahoma in the Big 12 standings. The Bears can’t do much about their situation with Oklahoma — the Sooners swept them. But the Bears do still have one more meeting with Iowa State in Ames. That could determine the Big 12 crown. Baylor isn’t deep, but it’s starting five is playing as well as any team in the league right now.
The last time Baylor played West Virginia Jordan Lewis became the third Bear to record a triple-double.
Baylor 78, West Virginia 65. It was a tough road for the Mountaineers when the first meeting was in Morgantown. With this one being in Waco, and with no KK Deans, a WVU win would be a big upset.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.