Lady Bears handle TCU, move on to Big 12 finals

Baylor junior center Kalani Brown goes up for two of her 28 points as the Lady Bears cruised past TCU 94-48. Photo Credit: Associated Press/Sue Ogrocki

By Max Calderone | Sports Writer

The No. 3 Baylor Lady Bears (30-1, 18-0) defeated TCU (19-12, 9-9) 94-48 on Sunday in Oklahoma City to advance to the championship game of the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship.

Junior center Kalani Brown led the way for Baylor, scoring 28 points and snatching 11 rebounds. Sophomore forward Lauren Cox nearly matched Brown’s stat line, posting 19 points and 11 rebounds as well. Freshman guard Alexis Morris gave the Lady Bears valuable minutes, pushing the tempo and scoring 18 points and dishing six assists in her energized effort.

Head coach Kim Mulkey said Morris has done her job to perfection in place of senior guard Kristy Wallace, who is out with a torn ACL.

“I think she’s been remarkable,” Mulkey said following the game. “But I’m not surprised at all.”

Things stayed even in the early stages of the first quarter as the teams traded baskets for the first three minutes. Brown converted twice from the free-throw line and sophomore guard Juicy Landrum notched a nifty up-and-under layup to put the Lady Bears up 13-7.

Following the first media break of the afternoon, Baylor went on a 6-0 run to push the lead to 10 points. TCU launched a barrage of threes that didn’t connect and the Lady Bears were able to take advantage at their end, capping off the quarter with a make from downtown by Cox.

Brown muscled in a layup as time expired in the first quarter to put Baylor ahead 28-13. She had 13 of her 28 points in the opening period.

To begin the second quarter, Cox knocked down another triple and Morris followed that with a connection from deep to move the score to 36-15. The Lady Bears continued on a 12-0 run before Horned Frogs senior guard Toree Thompson sank a three to end the drought with the score at 42-18.

TCU hung around as junior forward Amy Okonkwo nailed back-to-back threes in the closing moments of the first half, part of the Horned Frogs’ 10 point outburst in the final minute of the second quarter. But, Baylor still took a large 52-32 lead into halftime.

The Lady Bears picked up right where they left off to start the third quarter, going on a 8-0 run over a six minute span to push the score to 60-32. Morris and Brown continued to demonstrate their chemistry and scoring abilities, combining for six of those eight points.

Baylor held TCU to just five points in the quarter, extending its lead to 69-37 entering the fourth quarter.

It was no slowing down for the Lady Bears, as Mulkey turned it over to her bench as the game got out of hand. Landrum scored six of her 13 total points, freshman guard Moon Ursin picked up four points, and two team managers even got involved in the action. Once again, Baylor coasted to what amounted to be a 46 point victory.

The Lady Bears will face the winner of the Texas/West Virginia semifinal tomorrow night in the championship of the Big 12 postseason tournament. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. and the game can be watched on FS1.