“That first half for us was probably one of the rougher halves of basketball we’ve had so far this season,” Missouri coach Robin Pingeton said. “I thought we were able to regroup, recalibrate and really came out and battled in that second half.”
Missouri, which trailed by nine at halftime, took its only lead of the game with 7:11 left — 60-57 on Haley Troup’s 3-pointer. The Tigers then didn’t score for nearly five minutes, while Baylor (8-1) got 12 points in a row to go back ahead to stay, though Lauren Hansen’s 3-pointer pulled Mizzou within one with 34 seconds left.
“I’m proud of the grit of our team, I’m proud of the resiliency,” Pingeton said. “But this is a hard one when you’re right there.”
Aijha Blackwell, who was a USA Basketball teammate with Smith, had 20 points and 16 rebounds for Missouri (8-1) before fouling out with 3:56 left. Troup finished with 16 points and Hansen had 10. Hansen missed a 3-pointer with 20 seconds left and a potential game-tying jumper as time expired.
The Bears hadn’t played Missouri since the Tigers left the Big 12 for the SEC after the 2011-12 season.
Smith, the preseason AP All-American, scored half of Baylor’s points in the game-clinching 12-0 run.
“I feel like we feed off of just seeing each other make the baskets, see the ball go in,” Smith said. “Anytime that we do score it’s like high energy.”
Smith had a go-ahead three-point play with 6:12 left, when she was fouled when making a putback short jumper and added the free throw to make it 61-60.
“NaLyssa is just such a powerful player and is surrounded by some tremendous players,” Pingeton said.
Caitlin Bickle added 11 points for Baylor and Sarah Andrews 10.
Missouri: The Tigers had beaten three teams that went to the NCAA tournament last season, but not one was from a major conference. … Missouri’s only lead came after a 10-1 run in which Troup scored all of the points — including her only two made 3s in the game.
Baylor: The Bears won their 65th consecutive nonconference home game since a 66-55 loss to UConn on Jan. 13, 2014. … Baylor had a 36-27 lead after Smith made a 15-foot jumper to end the first half, and the only time the Bears trailed after scoring the game’s first seven points was for a minute in the fourth quarter.
Baylor is solidly in the top five after winning its only two games this week. The victory over an undefeated Missouri team came four days after a 73-28 victory when the Bears held Morehead State to single-digit scoring in all four quarters.
Missouri: At Missouri State on Friday night.
Baylor: Hosts Alcorn State on Wednesday. The game starts at 11 a.m. CST, with thousands of local elementary-school kids expected to be in the stands.