By Nathan Keil | Sports Writer
To the naked eye, Lady Bears sophomore post player Kalani Brown was the hero on Monday night as No. 4 Baylor came storming back from an 11-point second-half deficit to beat No. 6 Texas 70-67.
Brown’s 35 points and 13 rebounds led her team in both categories, and she was the steady force that fueled the comeback.
Despite Brown’s unstoppable performance in the paint and her smooth and calm demeanor at the free-throw line as she connected on 15 of 16 attempts, Monday night also provided an opportunity for another Lady Bear to make a name for herself junior forward Dekeiya Cohen.
Cohen was thrust into a key role when senior guard Alexis Jones went down in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury.
Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said Jones received an MRI on Tuesday and that Mulkey was hopeful that it was just a knee bruise and not a ligament issue.
With Jones’ injury, Cohen said that it was her time to step in and help her team any way she could.
“When she [Mulkey] told me I was going to start at half time, I just knew that we just had to go out there and give it all that we had,” Cohen said. “I just went out there and tried to do whatever I could to help my team, whether it was rebounding or just driving and trying to draw fouls.”
Prior to Monday, Cohen was averaging a modest three points per game and three rebounds per game, and she had only played about 11 minutes per contest. With additional playing time on Monday night in Austin, Cohen saw her offensive production increase drastically.
Cohen played 21 minutes total in the game, but only one minute in the second half of play. She scored six points, five of which came in Baylor’s big fourth quarter, on two of six shooting from the floor, but she grabbed seven extremely big rebounds, including three on the offensive end to get the Lady Bears additional scoring opportunities.
Mulkey said she was looking for players that could give the Lady Bears some energy and give them a fighting chance.
“I wanted tough, resilient kids out there on the floor and give them one shot,” Mulkey said. “[Lauren] Cox hit two big buckets, got some rebounds and altered some shots. Same thing with Dekeiya [Cohen]. She’s a junior, waited her turn. Opportunity knocked tonight, and she got some big offensive boards and putbacks for us.”
With the verdict still out on Jones, Cohen might just hear her number called a bit more moving forward.
The Lady Bears now have a one-game lead in the Big 12 with two games left to play. They will return home to host Texas Tech for Senior Day at 1 p.m. Saturday.