WACO, Texas (AP)NaLyssa Smith had 25 points and 15 rebounds and was one of five players scoring in double figures for No. 4 Baylor as the Lady Bears opened the season with an 82-37 win over Central Arkansas on Wednesday night.
Caitlin Bickle also had a double-double for Baylor with 14 points and 11 rebounds. DiJonai Carrington, the former All-Pac-12 guard from Stanford and preseason Big 12 newcomer of the year, had 11 points in her Baylor debut, while 6-foot-5 freshman center Hannah Gusters had 13 points.
Moon Ursin finished with 10 points a month after being involved in a vicious mid-air collision with teammate DiDi Richards in practice. Ursin completed concussion protocol while Richards, the versatile senior who had been expected to be the starting point guard, is still recovering from a spinal nerve injury. It is still unclear when Richards will be able to play, but she was on the bench energetically supporting her teammates.
Jalisa Outlaw was the leader scorer for Central Arkansas with nine points, though she was 1-of-7 shooting, making a 3-pointer and going 6-of-6 at the free throw line. UCA shot only 19.7% (13 of 66).
Central Arkansas: After scoring the game’s first basket only 44 seconds into the game, UCA kept that 2-0 lead until Smith’s two free throws with 6:36 left. That was part of a 13-0 run for Baylor, which never trailed again. UCA got out-rebounded 60-37 and outscored in the paint 50-16.
Baylor: The Lady Bears were 28-2 last season, but lost their regular-season finale before they played their Big 12 tournament opener and before the NCAA Tournament was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. They won their 10th Big 12 regular-season title in a row and are favored again this season even after losing AP All-America post Lauren Cox and fellow double figure-scoring seniors Te’a Cooper and Juicy Landrum.
Central Arkansas goes about 100 miles north to play TCU on Saturday.
Baylor was supposed to play Northwestern State on Friday, but that game was rescheduled until Dec. 18 because of COVID-19 concerns after Northwestern’s scheduled opener Wednesday was postponed. The Lady Bears play at South Florida next Tuesday.
More AP women’s college basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP-Top25.