In her 18 years at the helm of the Baylor women’s basketball program, Kim Mulkey couldn’t recall it ever happening before.
The Lady Bears didn’t allow a field goal the entire third quarter against No. 20 Kentucky. The Wildcats scored only six points in the frame, all from the free-throw line, as Baylor outscored Kentucky by 17 points in the third quarter en route to a 90-63 win Thursday night inside the Ferrell Center.
“We haven’t played quarters for but a few years, but that’s pretty impressive to defend a whole quarter and hold them to zero field goals,” Mulkey said. “We told them in the timeout. Maybe I shouldn’t have because we didn’t do too good in the fourth quarter. But that’s impressive. We’ll watch film, and those kids that were on the floor and contributed to that will be acknowledged.”
The Wildcats — who entered Thursday’s Big 12/SEC Challenge top 50 in the country in points per game (78.7) and field goal percentage (45.6) — were limited by the Baylor defense. And it went beyond the third quarter. Kentucky shot lower than 30 percent from the floor in the first and fourth quarters as well as the third.
And when it came to points in the paint, Baylor continued its dominance as the Lady Bears outscored Kentucky 46-12 inside. The Wildcats didn’t have any points inside until midway through the second quarter.
“Just trying to deal with their size,” Kentucky head coach Matthew Mitchell said. “We really did a great job of scoring early. I think as the score started to separate, we panicked and tried to get it all back quickly.”
Toward the end of the second quarter, the Wildcats started to close the gap. Down by as many as 14 points, Kentucky got to within seven with two minutes left.
And Baylor responded to the tune of La Vega product Juicy Landrum 3-pointer from the left side. Then a triple from Wallace. And another Landrum 3-pointer, this time from way downtown.
“Juicy Landrum, I’m so happy for that kid,” Mulkey said. “She’s a local kid, fought to get on the floor last year. She’s just a pleasure to coach, and she’s got to be shooting 60 percent from the 3 on the year. She’s got tremendous range on her shot.”
It was a close contest with five lead changes and three ties through the first quarter. Early in the second quarter, though, Baylor started to pull away. The momentum started rolling for Baylor when a flagrant foul was called on Kentucky. That put Kristy Wallace on the free-throw line — she made both — and gave Baylor the ball — Alexis Morris made a layup.
That four-point swing put the Lady Bears up by six before a 3-pointer by Kristy Wallace and a bucket by Dekeiya Cohen gave Baylor a double-digit advantage.
“He didn’t want to go to the monitor because all of these new rules about what’s intentional and flagrant,” Mulkey said. “I thought when the girl went to swat it, she gave one of those windmill swats and hit Kristy in the head. I don’t think she intentionally meant to do that, but when you have the intention or not, if you come across the head that hard, it can be upgraded. He did go, I’ll give him credit for that. I guess you’d say I finally got a referee to listen to me because we got the ball back and it didn’t cost us a timeout.”
The Lady Bears finished shooting 53.8 percent from the floor, its 18th-straight game to do so. For the second time this season, Baylor had six players finish in double figures — Kristy Wallace with 20, Alexis Morris with 15, Juicy Landrum with 14, Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown with 13 each as Dekeiya Cohen followed with 10. The Lady Bears finished shooting 53.8 percent from the perimeter as Landrum went 4-for-4 from deep and Wallace went 3-for-4.
“When they’re making shots, and we as coaches maybe focus too much on the inside kids and trying to take that away,” Mitchell said. “And nothing against our players, but just subconsciously maybe they didn’t understand that we needed to get out there and contest. Especially as they started to heat up, we needed to try to run them off the line.
“But, when they’re shooting the ball great from the outside, and you’ve got Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox inside, that’s a powerful team. That’s a very, very good team. Great guards, I thought Morris, No. 11, was so impressive and such a good player. All of them, just had a really good game tonight. When you can shoot the ball well from 3, and you’ve got two powerful post players that can score inside almost at will, that’s a lethal combination.”