Lady Bears control the paint in win over Central Arkansas

Baylor junior center Kalani Brown fights for position as she goes up for two of her 19 points. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor

Baylor overcame a slow start, using a balanced offensive attack to beat Central Arkansas 86-55 Tuesday night at the Ferrell Center.

Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said the Lady Bears got the win and that’s the most important thing.

“Well, let’s make it perfectly clear. It’s about winning. Isn’t that what coaches say? It’s about winning, and we won,” Mulkey said. “We’ve got to move on, quickly. We have a very good UCLA team in front of us, on the road. I’m sure they’ve been waiting on us since last year.”

The Lady Bears placed five in double figures, led by sophomore forward Lauren Cox, who scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and junior center Kalani Brown, who had 19 points and 11 rebounds, tallying her third double-double in as many games this season.

Cox said Brown’s passing on the interior helped her get good looks that she was able to capitalize on against the smaller Sugar Bears.

“We have that connection with each other. We know where to put the ball,” Cox said. “We know that the other post is going to catch it and score. We’re going to get doubled a lot down in the post, so we have to know where the other post is and all the shooters outside.”

Senior guard Kristy Wallace and sophomore guard Natalie Chou each chipped in with 11 and senior forward Dekeiya Cohen added 10 points and eight rebounds.

After the Lady Bears got off to a slow start, where they trailed 12-10, including being held more than three minutes without a field goal, Baylor went on an 8-3 run to grab an 18-15 advantage after 10 minutes of play.

Baylor gained control of the game early in the second quarter, using a 10-0 run, sparked by back-to-back threes from Chou to push the lead to 30-18.

Chou said that Brown’s passing ability helped set up her good looks as well.

“We’ve been practicing that, and she just found me. I felt good about my shot, so I shot it and it went in,” Chou said. “We practice it, so she knows where I am. I’m an option.”

After struggling to hit from beyond the arc in the first quarter, UCA connected on four threes in the second, including two from junior guard Kamry Orr, to keep itself in the game. For every three, Baylor had an answer, extending its lead to 14 at 43-29 at halftime.

A 10-0 run by the Lady Bears early in the third extended their lead to 58-39, but UCA refused to quick, getting a three from senior forward Taylor Baudoin and a three-point play from senior center Kierra Jordan to cut the deficit to 16 at 61-45 after three quarters.

In the fourth, it was all Baylor as the Lady Bears got nine points from Cox and Brown in outscoring UCA 25-10 in the fourth.

In its third win of the season, Baylor relied heavily on its presence down low, outscoring Central Arkansas 54-12 in the paint and controlling the glass, winning the rebounding battle 41-23.

The Lady Bears were also efficient in their offense, assisting on 25 of 32 field goals, where they shot 58 percent as a team and only attempted nine three-pointers, while hitting five of them.

On the flip side for Central Arkansas, the Sugar Bears relied heavily on three-point shooting, but hit eight of 24 attempts, including a dismal two for 10 in the first quarter. When it was able to get to the line, UCA was extremely efficient, hitting 11 of its 12 attempts.

Orr led Central Arkansas with 23 points despite shooting just seven of 20 from the floor. Baudoin finished with 13 and Jordan finished with 11, however both fouled out as Baylor drew 22 fouls, leading to the Lady Bears hitting 17 of 22 free throw attempts.

No. 3 Baylor (3-0) will now get its stiffest test as it travels to Los Angeles, Calif. to take on No. 8 UCLA (2-0) at 3 p.m. Saturday in Pauley Pavilion.

The two teams met last year at the Ferrell Center with Baylor getting the 84-70 win.