Wallace, Brown help Lady Bears overcome slow start in win over West Virginia

West Virginia's Chania Ray, left, defends against Baylor's Kristy Wallace, right, in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Morgantown, W.Va., Sunday, Jan. 28, 2018. Photo Credit: Associated Press/Michael Switzer

By Nathan Keil | Sports Editor

Baylor senior guard Kristy Wallace delivered quite an encore for the Lady Bears. Three days after tossing in a career-high 27 points in an 81-56 win over No. 6 Texas, Wallace followed it up with 25 points and four assists while playing all 40 minutes to help Baylor overcome the red-hot shooting Mountaineers 83-72.

Senior center Kalani Brown finished with a double-double, finishing with 18 points and 12 rebounds despite getting off to a slow start. With Brown and sophomore forward Lauren Cox struggling, the Lady Bears got big performances from senior Dekeiya Cohen and sophomore guard Natalie Chou.

No. 20 West Virginia was willing to give Cohen the jump shot and she made the Mountaineers pay, knocking down six of nine from the floor. For Chou, it was the opposite. West Virginia was quick to run her off the three-point line, forcing her to drive and Chou delivered 13 points and consistently found herself at the rim for easy baskets.

In the early going, West Virginia showed its same game plan it used to beat Baylor in the Big 12 Tournament Championship game last March. The Mountaineers were connecting on their three-point attempts and they took away Brown and Cox offensively.

After Wallace knocked down her first three of the game to tie the game at 12, it was junior guard Naomi Davenport and senior forward Teana Muldrow knocking down consecutive threes to put West Virginia in front 18-12. The Mountaineers hit four of their eight attempts, led by Davenport’s 11 first quarter points that put West Virginia in front 23-16 after the opening quarter.

In the second, Baylor began to find its shooting touch, hitting 10 of its 12 shots from the field after shooting just 31 percent in the first quarter. However, West Virginia continued to shoot the ball well, hitting 60 percent in the quarter while carrying a 47-41 lead into the break.

It didn’t take long for Baylor to get it going in the second half. The Lady Bears tied up at 49 less than two minutes in. Then it was Brown putting them in front 51-49.

But the Mountaineers wouldn’t go away. After jumpers by Cox and Wallace put Baylor in front 64-59, West Virginia scored five straight to tie at 64 before Cox’s layup gave Baylor a two point edge heading to the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, the Baylor defense locked down, holding West Virginia to just eight points. The Mountaineers, who only had eight bodies to use against Baylor, eventually found themselves in foul trouble and dealing with fatigue.

Baylor ended the game on a 13-2 run and held West Virginia scoreless over the final four minutes of play to put the Mountaineers away.

Baylor controlled the glass 41-25 and grabbed 14 offensive rebounds, converting them to 16 second chance points—the main difference in the game.

Davenport finished with a game-high 27 points before fouling out in the fourth quarter. Muldrow finished with 21 and senior guard Chania Ray added 12 points, eight assists and five rebounds for West Virginia.

West Virginia falls to 17-5, 5-5 in the Big 12. The Mountaineers will travel to Norman, Okla. to take on the Sooners at 2 p.m. Saturday.

No. 3 Baylor improves to 19-1 and 9-0 in the conference. The Lady Bears will return to home to finish its stretch of three straight ranked opponents as they host No. 19 Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday.