We knew TCU Basketball was going to be without head coach Raegan Pebley Saturday, who entered a quarantine period after coming in close contact with a person who tested positive. We were surprised when Baylor faced the same dilemma, as legendary coach Kim Mulkey was noticeably absent from the sidelines for the Big 12 contest.
Hanna Howard filled in admirably for Pebley, who expressed her complete faith in her assistant head coach, saying “I have so much confidence in the staff and team. This program is surrounded by excellent coaches and leaders who are prepared. The women in uniform competing are no exception to this. We always work in collaboration with each other, which fuels our belief in each other. I believe in them unconditionally.” Howard gave credit to Pebley for building a staff and a culture of collaboration that made the transition smooth for the players. “Our staff, Raegan has created a staff that is very collaborative, all invested in the process from a game to game approach. She wasn’t physically here ,but she gave us lot of confidence that we could handle the week really well.”
That belief was evident early on; despite being significant underdogs to one of the top teams in the country, the Frogs came out with upset on their mind, harassing the Bears through the first 20 minutes of play, fighting for every rebound, and diving for every loose ball. There was no fear of who they were facing off with — the team was focused on working on themselves. “Our culture isn’t about who we are playing, it’s about our identity,” Howard said. To this point, the Bears had been averaging 90 points per game and a 40+ point margin of victory, but on their home court, the Frogs limited BU to just 35 first half points on 45% shooting and forced 11 turnovers to stay within 12 at the break.
TCU hung around in the third quarter, as Lauren Heard finally found some operating space, dropping six in the frame. Both teams made just five shots from the field, but the Bears drained both of their three point opportunities and the Frogs hit two more from the charity stripe to keep the lead at a dozen.
The fourth quarter was all Bears though; the Frogs spent most of the late game in foul trouble, and despite strong offensive efforts from Heard, Yummy Morris, and Michelle Berry, TCU simply couldn’t overcome the size and depth of the Bears. Baylor held the Frogs to just 26% shooting from the floor and out rebounded them 52-33. Both teams turned it over 17 times, as the Frogs harassed Baylor guards all day and the Bears forced a ton of deflections and loose balls in the paint. They also dominated the scoring inside, scoring 24 points and converting second chance opportunities into 18 more.
Heard led the Frogs with 14 — nine of which came from the line on a day that BU gave her absolutely nothing easy. She knows that’s something she needs to be aware of going forward. “It was tough,” she said. “I think that’s just coming with maturity from me, knowing I’m going to draw a lot of attention from this point on. It’s me being conscious of that, making better passes, getting my teammates more involved.”
Michelle Berry and Yummy Morris poured in eight a piece and Kayla Mokwuah had four points and a team high six rebounds. Next up for the Horned Frogs is a home date with Oklahoma State on Wednesday, with tip-off set for 6:30 pm. They’ll be ready for another tough game. “The girls talked a lot this week about focus, being in the moment — that takes toughness. This team is really trying to grow and mature in our ability to be present and in the moment. We took a big step today,” Howard said.