By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer
No. 4-ranked Baylor women’s basketball fought through a game riddled with fouls and missed free throws to grab a 94-49 victory over Southern Thursday night at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor was without one of its most dominant players, senior center Kalani Brown, after she sprained her ankle in practice on Wednesday. It the first game Brown has ever missed and snapped a streak of 64 consecutive starts and 113 games played for the senior. She should be available for the trip to Las Vegas next weekend, head coach Kim Mulkey said.
Coming off the comeback 65-59 win over Arizona State, the Lady Bears got to the free throw line early in the game, making all five of their free throw attempts, four of which came within the first minute. Six minutes into the game, Baylor was up 24-7, making 9-of-10 from the field.
The defense for Baylor held Southern to making only two of its seven attempts, while out rebounding the Lady Jaguars 5-1. To close out the first quarter, the Lady Bears made five of their final eight field goal attempts while holding the Lady Jaguars to no field goal in the closing three minutes, taking a 32-14 lead into the second quarter.
The Lady Bears ended the half 59-27 and making five of their five field goal attempts to spark a late first half run. Baylor refused to let up on the boards, tripling the number of rebounds Southern had 24-8. Not only did they control that part of the game, but the Lady Bears also had complete control over the paint where 30 of their total 59 points came from. The Lady Jaguars did lead in three-pointers made with three compared to the Bears’ two but had to shoot 14 times to get those four.
Baylor freshman guard Honesty Scott-Grayson led both teams in scoring with 13 points, shooting 6-of-6 from the field. The leading scorer for Southern was senior guard Skylar O’Bear, who had seven total points.
The game began to get more physical through the beginning of the third quarter as Lady Jaguar senior center Sarai Blissett was disqualified after being called for a flagrant two foul. Both teams ended the game in double digits of personal fouls, but Southern had double the amount of Baylor with 32 compared to 14.
Junior forward Lauren Cox had 10 points in the game, and while she did not go to the free throw line, said it was important to help the younger players keep their composure.
“We have to keep our composure in situations like that,” Cox said. “Us upperclassmen, we have to remind them that it’s not worth it because if you get into something with the other team you’re going to have to sit out a game … I think it did a little bit, especially in the second half we couldn’t really get into the flow of things.”
To end the third quarter, Baylor had its best free throw percentage, making 83.3 percent, but had its worst field goal and three-point shooting percentages with 55.6 percent and 33.3 percent, respectively. Both teams had their lowest-scoring quarter in the third quarter, Baylor with 16 points and Southern with 10.
The Lady Bears ended the game 94-49 holding Southern to a final shooting percentage of 31.4 percent and shot 63.5 percent from the field itself. Baylor struggled from the free throw line after being given 40 attempts and only making 24. Despite getting to the line so often, Mulkey said not being able to finish at the line is something the team will have to work on going into the next game.
“We’ll start with free throws again,” Mulkey said. “We just seemed, for whatever reason, to miss free throws. We’re getting to the line, I thought the game was physical. You saw the ejection by the Southern player. I thought our kids were good in keeping their composure. We just have to keep plugging away.”
Scott-Grayson ended the game as the leading scorer with a field goal percentage of 85.7 percent for 15 points, a career-high, and also led the team in steals with two. Leading the defense was Cox with five blocks.
The Lady Bears hit the hardwood next in Las Vegas at 9:30 p.m. Nov. 23 as they take on South Dakota State.