In the conference opener for both teams, sophomore post Kalani Brown led the fourth-ranked Lady Bears with 22 points and 12 rebounds as Baylor earned its 12th win of the season with an 87-57 victory over the visiting Kansas State Wildcats.
“I was just going to the offensive boards and being aggressive on both ends of the floor,” said Brown. “Coming off of the 12-day layoff, I wanted to show that I was not out of shape.”
Kansas State had every answer for Baylor in the first six minutes of the first quarter. It pressured the ball and forced the Lady Bears into tough passes, forcing five early turnovers. The Wildcats were also aggressive in driving to the basket, as they drew six first quarter fouls on the Lady Bears.
As the opening period and the half wore on, the Wildcat zone started to become less daunting. Baylor began to find openings in the zone and used their distinct height advantage on the block by feeding lobs over the top of the zone to its post players for easy layups. Baylor outscored the Wildcats 64-20 in the paint and created 23 second chance opportunities that led to 25 points.
“Kansas State’s style of play is much different than ours,” said head coach Kim Mulkey. “They play a zone, they try to slow the game down and I felt like we were playing right into their hands. I just subbed some players and started pressing just to push the momentum. ”
With its success in the paint forcing the Wildcats to drop its zone even lower, Baylor’s guards began to penetrate the seams with great effectiveness, especially in the second half. The main catalyst of this attack for the Lady Bears was redshirt senior guard Alexis Prince, who helped spurt a 13-2 run in the third to help cement the game for Baylor.
“She’s happy, she’s healthy. She is at that point as a senior where she doesn’t want to stop playing. You have to push her out of the gym,” Mulkey said. “I love the way she is playing defense. It’s just the way she is carrying herself. Her entire game offensively and defensively is as good as it has been since she has been here.”
After the opening few minutes, Kansas State could not get anything going offensively. After hitting two of their first three from beyond the arc, the Wildcats missed their next 12 before finally connecting midway through the fourth quarter. Part of the issue for Kansas State was Baylor’s defense, which only got stronger as the game went on, often forcing difficult, contested shots. The other issue was the Wildcats inability to hit open shots when they did get them, as they finished just 33 percent from the field.
The Wildcats placed three in double figures in scoring, led by senior guard Kindred Wesemann with 16 points. Senior center Breanna Lewis scored 14 points and grabbed 7 rebounds and junior guard Karyla Middlebrook added 13 points for Kansas State, who drops to 10-3 overall and 0-1 in the Big 12 play.
“We have confidence in each other. We are focusing on playing together and getting better,” Davis said. “Credit Kansas State, they are a great team that plays great defense. We came out ready to play after the break.”
Baylor improves to 12-1, 1-0 in the conference. The Lady Bears host Kansas on Sunday at the Ferrell Center. Tipoff is set for 2 p.m.