By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Insider
Against a West Virginia team that doesn’t have much of a post presence, Baylor’s Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox were more than enough.
When you rotate in freshmen NaLyssa Smith and Queen Egbo, and there’s no noticeable drop off, it’s almost unfair.
All four of Baylor’s post players scored in double figures, led by the 6-7 Brown with 17 points, as the second-ranked Lady Bears (15-1, 5-0) rolled over the visiting Mountaineers, 79-47, Sunday for their 30th win a row at the Ferrell Center and 27th straight in a Big 12 regular-season game.
“We knew exactly what they were going to run. We couldn’t stop it,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey, whose team fell to 12-5 and 3-3 just three days after upsetting 18th-ranked Iowa State, 73-64. “They just keep coming at you in the paint. Even their freshmen coming off the bench, just pound the paint.”
Cox was an efficient 6-of-7 from the floor and finished with 13 points, six rebounds and four of Baylor’s 10 blocks, while Smith and Egbo had 11 and 10 points, respectively. Senior point guard Chloe Jackson struggled, hitting just one of her seven shots, but dished off a career-high 10 assists.
“When I found out, I was kind of like, ‘Wow!’ I didn’t know that,” said Jackson, who was a shooting guard at LSU before transferring to Baylor this year. “We had good movement, and everybody was finishing at the rim. Post players were running, so you’ve got to get them the ball. That made it easier for me just finding them, and they were knocking down shots.”
West Virginia wasn’t, particularly if your name wasn’t Tynice Martin. Hounded all night by Baylor’s guard combo of DiDi Richards and Juicy Landrum, Martin still finished with a game-high 18 points and shot 7-of-17. The rest of the team was just 10-of-38 as the Mountaineers scored a season-low 47 points and shot just 30.9 percent.
“You won’t beat Baylor by hitting 3’s,” Carey said. “You have to penetrate, jump stop. When you have opportunities to attack, attack. We didn’t do that.”
When Naomi Davenport drained a 3-pointer to start the second quarter, West Virginia was only down by two, 18-16. Seven minutes later, after a 20-2 run, Baylor led by 20.
After Landrum matched Davenport’s 3-pointer with Baylor’s only made trey of the game, the Lady Bears took it inside to pull away. The other 17 points in the run were all scored either at the line or in the paint, with three layups by Brown, one each by Cox, Richards and Landrum and a short jumper in the lane by Cox.
Landrum hit the last layup off a length-of-the-court pass from Cox.
“That one pass Cox threw, it looked like Bill Walton back in the day,” Mulkey said. “That’s about the only other person I’ve ever seen that could take a ball right there and throw it to the other front of the rim. She does that effortlessly. We need to do it more. I guess that’s the volleyball in her. She can just fling it.”
Similarly, Jackson hit Brown in stride with a quarterback pass for a fast-break layup in the first quarter when Brown scored three straight buckets after subbing back in.
Mulkey said she had taken her senior All-American out of the game after a turnover and missed layup and had a “little come-to-Jesus talk.”
“Sometimes, you just take her out to relax them,” Mulkey said. “Then, it’s just, ‘Get your butt back in there and make layups.’ It’s nothing harsh, but just make her think about it, get in there and do your job.”
Brown said Mulkey’s message was just to finish shots.
“When I got my chance to get back in, I just tried to finish shots,” said Brown, who was 8-of-12 from the floor. “She has a way of motivating me. When she yells at me, it’s motivating, too.”
Leading by 23 at the break, Baylor relaxed a little too much in the third quarter, but finished strong by doubling up the Mountaineers in the fourth even with Brown, Cox and Jackson all sitting out. Landrum gave the Lady Bears their fifth double-figure scorer with 13 points, a season-high eight assists, four rebounds, two blocks and two steals.
“I was really proud that we were able to rest some kids,” Mulkey said. “We’ve got a big game here again Wednesday and going to have to chase shooters all over the floor. So, the more minutes you can get and use your bench, it’s good for you.”
Baylor finishes off a two-game home stand with a matchup against No. 18 Iowa State (14-4, 4-2). The Cyclones bounced back from the road loss at West Virginia to drill Oklahoma, 104-78, on Saturday.