Story by Ben Everett | Sports Writer, Video by Branson Hardcastle | Broadcast Reporter
No. 3-ranked Baylor women’s basketball finished conference play undefeated for the first time since 2013 and for the third time in school history.
The Lady Bears (28-1, 18-0) defeated West Virginia 80-54 Monday night at the Ferrell Center behind 17 points, 16 rebounds, and a career high four three-pointers from sophomore forward Lauren Cox.
Senior forward Dekeiya Cohen and senior guard Kristy Wallace were honored at halftime of the game, but Wallace did not play in the second half due to an apparent knee injury she suffered in the second quarter.
Cohen said Wallace is a fighter and will do everything she can to get back on the court.
“We know that she might be out for a little bit,” Cohen said. “She’s a good spirit. She’s a fighter. We know that if she has anything to do with it, she’ll be back.”
Freshman guard Moon Ursin played a career-high 30 minutes in Wallace’s absence.
Neither freshman forward Didi Richards or guard Alex Morris played, due to what was described as a “violation of team rules,” so head coach Kim Mulkey was left with just five players at her disposal. The result was that four of her starters — Brown, Cox, Landurm and Cohen played all 40 minutes for the Lady Bears.
West Virginia senior forward Teana Muldrow started the game on a 5-0 run with a put back and a three to propel the Mountaineers to a 5-4 lead at the 6:57 mark of the first quarter.
Cohen knocked in back-to-back jumpers and Wallace drained a 3-pointer to help the Lady Bears end the first quarter on a 16-5 run to take a 16-10 lead into the second.
West Virginia cut the lead to 18-16 early in the second quarter, but sophomore guard Juicy Landrum drove the lane for a layup and Cox connected on two 3-pointers to give Baylor a 26-19 lead with 4:19 left in the half.
Ursin came in at point guard and scored on a driving layup to extend the Baylor lead to nine and junior center Kalani Brown powered through a defender to convert an and-one to give the Lady Bears a 36-22 lead at the break.
Baylor dominated on then defensive end in the first half, holding the Mountaineers to a season-low 22 points and to 26 percent shooting from the field, and forcing seven turnovers.
West Virginia drained back-to-back threes to cut the lead to 14, but Cohen and Landrum responded with aggressive moves to the basket to extend Baylor’s lead to 49-30 at the 4:42 mark of the third quarter.
Muldrow knocked down her third three-pointer of the game to make it 57-41, but Cox responded with her third three, knocking it down with three seconds left on the clock to give the Lady Bears a 60-41 advantage heading into the final quarter.
Baylor started the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run, but the Mountaineers rolled off a 7-0 run of their own capped off by a three-pointer from junior guard Katrina Pardee to make it a 68-48 game with 4:47 left.
The Lady Bears ended the game on a 6-0 run to take their biggest lead and win the game 80-54.
The seniors have led the Lady Bears to three straight Elite Eights and four straight Big 12 regular season championships, compiling a 130-11 record during that stretch.
Cohen averaged a career-high 12 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game this season and has started every game she has played.
Wallace averaged a career-high 13.1 points, 5.5 assists and 5 rebounds per game this season and this season became one of three Lady Bears to ever record at least 500 career assists.
West Virginia head coach Mike Carey said he is hoping that Kristy Wallace’s injury is not as bad as it looked.
“I hope Kristy Wallace is not that bad,” Carey said. “Let’s hope for the best for her. She’s had a great career here. I felt sick to my stomach when I saw her holding that knee.”
The Lady Bears look to capture their ninth post-season Big 12 Tournament Championship starting at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in Oklahoma City.