The fourth-ranked Lady Bears — with their nation-leading margin of victory — hasn’t played from behind often this season. For only the second time, and first since November, Baylor faced a deficit after the first quarter of play at Oklahoma.
“It was a good experience,” senior Kristy Wallace said. “I think it was good for the team to go through that. Handling adversity and being able to come out in the second half ready to go and ready to play. We just kept fighting. It was a grind.”
The Lady Bears took the lead just before half and never let it go in their win over the Sooners Sunday afternoon. And they did so with leading scorer Kalani Brown playing limited minutes due to foul trouble.
“I think that was good for morale for the team,” Wallace said. “Having Kalani in foul trouble, that’s going to happen. We can’t control that. I think being able to have players that can step up and will step up in that time is important. Knowing that we can do that, too, is important.”
Wallace was huge in Baylor’s win over the Sooners, as was fellow senior Dekeiya Cohen.
Wallace joined the 1,000-point club in the win, while Cohen had a monster performance on both ends of the floor.
“Well, it was good to see Dekeiya and Kristy both, they carried us in that Oklahoma game,” Mulkey said. “And that’s what people don’t understand. What carried us were kids that have experience. They’ve been there. They didn’t panic. They hit open shots and made big buckets. We executed plays for them because they are seniors and you want seniors to have good years.”
Cohen put up 16 points in the contest, the most she’s ever scored in Big 12 action. The senior also added six rebounds and a pair of blocks in 36 minutes.
“Now with Dekeiya, I may rest her against Iowa State,” Mulkey said. “She played a lot of minutes (against Oklahoma), and the bottom of her foot — is it plantar fasciitis? — is sore. And we still have another game to play Saturday. I think the flow of the game will dictate that. It’s a long season. And if we can go there and compete and win without her, we’re going to try to do that. But if we can’t she’ll have to play.”
It’s been two weeks since Baylor topped Iowa State, 89-49, inside the Ferrell Center. The Lady Bears went 12-for-23 from the 3-point line in the victory.
“I mean, that was one game,” Wallace said. “We shot really well. We had a high percentage. That’s not going to happen every game, especially on their home floor. The freshmen understand that our percentage won’t always be that high. We’re going to need to be ready to play because they’re a great team and they can light it up from 3.”
Since then, Baylor hasn’t fared as well from deep, as the Lady Bears are a combined 7-for-36 from the perimeter. But Baylor has continued to shoot at least 43 percent from the floor, while holding its opponents to less than 29 percent from the field.
“I’m sure it will be much different,” Mulkey said. “We shot lights-out that night, they didn’t shoot it extremely well. You go to somebody’s court, especially Ames, Iowa, there will be a great crowd there, and it’s a difficult place to go and try to win.”
Meanwhile, Iowa State has gone 1-2 since facing the Lady Bears. Most recently, the Cyclones defeated Texas Tech in Lubbock, 66-54. Bridget Carleton continues to lead the Cyclones as the junior is the only power-5 player in the country leading her team in points (18.0), rebounds (7.1) and assists (3.7).
“We played them before a couple of weeks ago,” Chou said. “We know they’re a great shooting team. We did the scouting report on them and we’re ready to go.”
Four of Baylor’s “Fierce Five” recruiting class were named to the McDonald’s All-American Games roster Tuesday afternoon — forward Aquira DeCosta (Sacramento, Calif.), center Queen Egbo (Houston, Texas), guard Honesty Scott-Grayson (Brick, N.J.) and forward NaLyssa Smith (Converse, Texas).
All four Baylor recruits will suit up for the Girls West All-American squad, an opportunity to play together on the same team before arriving in Waco.
“It’s a great reflection of our coaching staff and the job they did in recruiting, and it’s great for Baylor University,” Mulkey said. “Our fifth one has the ACL tear. So, I’m certain she knew that she was probably not going to make it. … But, we’re certainly proud – four, that’s a lot. Some conferences don’t even have that many. And to think that on one team that we’re represented like that makes you proud.”