With time running down in the third quarter, Lauren Cox blocked a Texas Southern 3-point attempt, secured the loose ball and finished on the other end with the layup as the buzzer sounded.
And her teammates mobbed her under the basket while Kim Mulkey celebrated on the sideline.
Inside that one sequence was the perfect summation of a 119-30 blowout over Texas Southern in the first round of the NCAA Tournament inside the Ferrell Center – the block (size advantage), the steal (hustle) and the finish (scoring).
“I thought the group that started the game was as intense as they’ve been all year,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I thought their intensity, their focus was just so much better than that last game. All of them that went in the game understand that you’ll come out of the game if you don’t get in passing lanes. You’re going to come out of the game if you allow people to go to the offensive boards.”
It marked the largest margin of victory in NCAA Tournament history.
“It’s an honor,” sophomore Kalani Brown said. “We all worked hard. It was a team effort. Everyone contributed. And I think we’re excited about it. I mean, not many teams do that.”
Texas Southern (23-10) simply had no answer for Baylor’s (31-3) size.
The tallest Lady Tiger to hit the floor stood 6-foot-3 and could do nothing to stop Baylor from getting the basketball inside.
The Lady Bears finished with 74 points in the paint.
“It’s very important to dominate the paint,” Brown said. “I think we did that, all of us did that. Everybody came out ready and everybody came out and executed.”
The high-low game for the Baylor was money as time after time one big would catch the ball around the free throw line and lob it to her teammate on the block who finished the bucket with ease.
Kalani Brown nearly outscored the Lady Tigers herself as the sophomore post finished with 21 points, her seventh 20-point game of the season.
Beatrice Mompremier posted a double-double with a career-high 22 points and 11 boards, while Lauren Cox poured in 17 points off 3-for-4 shooting from the perimeter.
When Texas Southern switched to a zone defense, the Lady Bears knocked down their perimeter shots as they went 9-for-18 from deep.
“I thought that we did well with our high-low stuff,” Mulkey said. “But guys, we’re leading the country in 3-point field goal percentage. We’ve got kids that can shoot it out there. We don’t’ shoot as much as others in the country because if we do, I’m not a very good coach when you’ve got this kind of size inside. But we’ve got a lot of balance.”
Baylor finished shooting 63.2 percent from the floor, including a 77.8 percent third quarter.
Every Lady Bear who entered the game scored as six of them finished in double figures.
Joining the trio of posts were Nina Davis with 13 points, along with Kristy Wallace and Natalie Chou who each had 12.
Overall, 73 percent of Baylor’s makes were assisted as the Lady Bears finished with 35 dimes.
Baylor made it look effortless.
But just because it looked easy doesn’t mean the Lady Bears didn’t play with their usual hustle and intensity.
The Baylor forwards were able to get such good position down low because of the work they took to get good position.
Kristy Wallace did what Kristy Wallace does and jumped, slid and dived for loose balls all over the floor.
The Lady Bears swarmed all over the defensive end of the floor as they finished with eight steals and forced 21 turnovers.
Along with setting an NCAA Tournament for most points scored in regulation, Baylor also set another record by holding Texas Southern to 13.8 percent shooting.
“We did score a lot of points, but the thing I’m most proud of is how few points we gave up,” Mulkey said. “We fouled on the 3-point shot, we fouled a couple of jump shooters. You can’t do that against teams when it’s a close game. But I just thought our defense was so much better.”
Improving defensively has been a focus for the Lady Bears and will continue to be.
Brown picked up her first foul on Texas Southern’s first possession.
She slid over on help side defense and bumped the shooter when she went up.
Mulkey wanted her to take the charge.
Five minutes later, Brown slid over once again on the defensive help side.
This time, she drew the charge.
And Mulkey was ecstatic.
“I think our help side defense gets better and better,” Mulkey said. “Dribble penetration is always a concern because it’s just hard to guard anybody one-on-one in the game anymore. You’ve got to have that second and third defender. We’ve got kids that can block shots. I want them taking more charges. I want them to play better team defense.”
Texas Southern didn’t score until the 3:37 mark in the first quarter.
Baylor had already built a 22-0 lead.
Joyce Kennerson led Texas Southern with 19 points.
Kaitlyn Palmer and Chynna Ewing were the only other Lady Tigers to score as they finished with eight and three points respectively.
“I told our young ladies in the locker room a moment ago that you’ve probably played a Final Four team for sure,” Texas Southern coach Johnetta Hayes-Perry said. “Great in size, shoot the ball well, shot the ball extremely well today. Some of that was us, but a lot of it was them hitting shots early.”