Jhasmin Player's injury tempers Baylor's 13th straight win

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- While winning a key game, No. 6 Baylor might have lost a key player.

The Lady Bears, clamping a suffocating defense on Kansas State (No. 24 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP), rode a 17-2 second-half surge to a 63-49 victory Saturday for their 13th win in a row.

Jessica Morrow scored 16 points and Rachel Allison had 15 for Baylor (20-1, 8-0 Big 12), which is off to the best start in program history.

The win was tempered, however, by an injury to Jhasmin Player. She scored on a fast break in the first half but went down hard and injured her left knee. Coach Kim Mulkey said an MRI exam would be performed on Sunday on the 5-10 junior, who had been averaging 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds.

"She is heartbroken," Mulkey said. "Jhasmin is one of our captains. No one outworks Jhasmin Player. We just wanted to hug her and love on her and say all the good things you can. We were happy that we won, but those tears were from Jhasmin being hurt."

The loss stopped a 10-game winning streak for the Wildcats (15-6, 7-1), their longest in four years.

"For whatever reason, we were very, very flat," coach Deb Patterson said. "Baylor came in here, on the road in a hostile environment, and didn't blink. "

Kansas State trailed by 13 in the first half but pulled to 38-35 on Shalee Lehning's basket right after halftime.

But the Wildcats then went almost 11 minutes without a basket and wound up with its lowest point total since a 68-56 loss to Wisconsin-Green Bay on Dec. 5.

Morrow hit a shot, then sank a three-pointer to help get the take-charge spree under way. After Morrow's basket made it 49-37, Allison rebounded Marlies Gipson's miss and converted it on the other end with a 12-footer for a 51-37 lead.

Angela Tisdale drove in for a basket and then hit a pair of free throws before Kimberly Dietz finally ended Kansas State's drought with a long three-pointer.

But by then, the Lady Bears held a commanding 55-40 lead with 7:40 to go.

"No disrespect to Baylor, they are a very good team," said Lehning. "They obviously are very athletic and they have five players on their floor that play very well together. But I think more of our issue tonight was the unit that we've been taking pride in, that we've become ... we weren't that tonight."

After Player's injury, Morrow's basket stretched Baylor's lead to 32-19. But then Dietz and Gipson hit three-pointers in a 12-6 run and Baylor went into halftime with a 36-29 advantage.

Gipson had 14 points for Kansas State -- all in the first half -- and Dietz 13.

It was the second of three games against ranked teams in seven days for the Lady Bears, whose only loss was an 87-63 setback at No. 5 Stanford on Dec. 16. They beat No. 25 Texas 61-60 on Wednesday night and will face No. 21 Oklahoma State on Tuesday.

Since the Big 12 was formed in 1996, no two women's teams had ever faced each other this deep into the season while still unbeaten.

"I think that we played a lot off of emotion," Allison said. "You never want to see one of your teammates go down like that. The sounds that she made really hurt our hearts. I went over there and told her that we were going to win this one for you, and we did."

The Lady Bears quickly took the crowd out of the game by hitting eight of their first 12 shots in a 17-4 run for a 19-8 lead.

Danielle Wilson had 10 points for Baylor, which was 10-for-10 from the foul line to Kansas State's 6-for-12 and outrebounded the Wildcats 42-29.

Kansas State was only 5-of-20 from three-point range while losing at home for the first time in 13 games, and to the highest-ranked team to visit Manhattan since No. 4 Oklahoma in 2002.

"I don't know if there was any element of their game that we competed well," Patterson said.