Didi Richards has been called a great defender by her head coach. She’s also been dubbed as one of the funniest by her teammates. In the press room Wednesday afternoon after No. 6 Baylor’s 95-34 rout over McNeese State, Kim Mulkey looked to her right and asked Richards to share what else she’s been called.
“Rag doll,” Richards answered. “She even called me that during the game.”
Smiling, Mulkey asked Richards to say what a rag doll is, the freshman said she didn’t know.
“You get pushed around,” Mulkey replied. “You just flop around. Be strong. ... You saw that rebound she gave up there at the end on a missed free throw, right? She’s our little rag doll, but she’s ours and nobody else’s. You got that right, we’ll keep her. We chose her and we got her.”
To which, Richards replied with a grin in a quiet voice, “Thank you.”
Richards had the media room rolling with laughter after she put up career high numbers across the board for her first career double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds in addition to four assists to one turnover and a pair of blocks. The 6-foot-1 freshman guard played 25 minutes and showed her versatility as she set up on the outside as a guard and the inside as a forward.
Meanwhile, Dekeiya Cohen didn’t enter the game as Mulkey rested the senior. Then, Lauren Cox had seven minutes of action until she went out with a sprained ankle.
“Dekeiya’s knees are like Alexis (Jones),” Mulkey said. “If you remember last year, I rested Jones in December. Dekeiya’s good to go, she could have played. I’m just trying to be smart knowing I have a short roster. I don’t want her knees swelling and I don’t want them hurting through the conference season.
“So, I’ve convinced her just to kind of rest a little bit here. And then Cox sprained her ankle. And I think the X-rays showed that it was negative, but they’ll do an MRI just to make sure.”
Baylor outscored McNeese State, 50-10, in the paint as Kalani Brown joined Richards with a double-double of her own. The junior forward’s combo of 17 points and 16 boards marked her fifth double-double of the season and 17th of her career. Kristy Wallace led the Lady Bears in scoring with 20 points on the afternoon. The senior guard also added five assists and three blocked shots.
Also in double figures for Baylor was Natalie Chou with 17 points and Juicy Landrum with 10. Overall, the Lady Bears finished shooting 45 percent from the floor. On the glass, freshman Moon Ursin tied Richards with 12 rebounds, a career high.
“(Moon) has to get us offensive rebounds and defensive rebounds and defend,” Mulkey said. “Offensively, we will get you shots. I think she’s got to take care of the ball and just do the things you’re capable of doing and let the other parts of your game grow as you grow. She’s just got some God-given things like leaping ability and speed. Use them.
“I thought there was a period of time early in the game where I said, ‘Moon, from foul line to foul line, you should just be like nobody can see you. You’re just so fast. But use it. You’re just trotting down the floor. When we gain possessions, take off.’ Those are things you just have to keep repeating to her.”
Defensively, Baylor held McNeese State to 18 percent shooting from the floor. For the second time this season, the Lady Bears held an opponent to zero field goals in a quarter.
“I thought we came out after tip and we were really focused,” Mulkey said. “I thought that we played hard. And then after Cox sprained her ankle, we kind of got discombobulated. That’s a great word. My English teacher would be proud. Just kind of got out of the flow. So, we missed some shots.
“We stayed with it defensively. And then about the third quarter, we kept missing those shots when they went to a 3-2 zone. And we stayed with it on the defensive end. We did some good things today under the circumstances.”
The Lady Bears will hit the road for their final nonconference game, Monday at Nicholls State in Thibodaux, La. Then they’ll take a holiday break before opening up Big 12 action at Kansas State on Dec. 28.