Baylor’s offense was still explosive as it put up yet another 100-point performance in its second, and final, exhibition contest of the season. But it was the electric defense that stole the show.
From interceptions in the full court press to swipes in the half court, the Lady Bears forced 39 turnovers in Monday night’s exhibition win over Washburn, 117-33, inside the Ferrell Center.
“If you look at our steals, that’s a lot of activity going on,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “I don’t care who you play, that’s buying into getting in passing lanes and really being aggressive.”
Nearly 40 percent of Baylor’s points came off Ichabod turnovers as the home squad finished with 23 steals. The Lady Bears – who shot 65.3 percent on the night – had 24 more shot attempts than the Ichabods.
Washburn shot 25 percent from the floor against the Lady Bears as half of its buckets came from behind the 3-point line. The Ichabods had only 10 points in the paint.
“I think that’s one of the things, like when we’re playing smaller teams, they’re not going to want to bring it in because we have me, Kalani, Dekeiya inside,” Cox said. “They’ll bring their posts out and we’ll have to go out and guard them.”
Statistically, sophomore Natalie Chou led the defensive charge for Baylor with six steals, followed by freshman Alexis Morris with five and sophomore Lauren Cox with four. But it was freshman Didi Richards who ignited the intensity of the Lady Bear defense.
“Didi just brings an aggressiveness on the floor,” Mulkey said. “She’s just very active with her hands. She’s quick. You’re not going to beat her much off the dribble. I think she could be a really good defensive stopper for us.”
Richards and the three other Baylor freshmen – Morris, Trinity Oliver and Moon Ursin – combined for 30 points and seven steals on the night.
“Then the freshmen, they want to do good,” Mulkey said. “I tell them, ‘You’re going to make mistakes but make it with effort. I can live with your mistakes as long as you give me effort.’ They got a little fatigued there at the end. They probably left 10 points on the floor there in the last minute and a half missing layups and shots. They’re going to have to give us valuable minutes.”
The Lady Bears got their offense going in the half court early as Washburn had no answer for the high low play between Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown. They each finished with 17 points as Baylor put up 80 points in the paint.
“Yeah, I think that’s one of our strengths that we have,” Cox said. “We can just give each other a look and we know that the pass is going to be there and they’re going to be able to score that layup. We work on it in practice all the time.”
Dekeiya Cohen led the way for the Lady Bears with 19 points, as Chou and Morris added 13 along with Wallace with 11 and Juicy Landrum with 10. More than half of Baylor’s buckets were assisted as Wallace finished with eight assist and zero turnovers.
“I thought Kristy not having any turnovers,” Mulkey said. “She had too many the last exhibition. To have eight assits and no turnovers, you want a two to one ratio. I thought that was big for us. I think Kristy is making Morris grow up quickly. Morris has got to play. They’ll have to play together a lot, possibly in the UCLA game and Kentucky game early. That’s my two primary ball handlers. They bring such quickness and court savvy together that you’re going to see a lot of them together.”
The win over Washburn wrapped up the exhibition portion of Baylor’s schedule. Now, the Lady Bears turn their attention to a jam-packed five day span when they play three games at home – Lamar at 7 p.m. Friday, Coppin State at 2 p.m. Sunday and Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. Tuesday.