By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
No. 2-ranked Baylor women’s basketball defeated No. 20-ranked Iowa State 84-69 Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center to tighten its grasp on first place in the Big 12 standings.
The Lady Bears (16-1, 6-0) were led by junior forward Lauren Cox, who scored 22 points to eclipse the 1,000-point mark in her career.
The two teams battled back and forth early in the game. Baylor’s largest lead was only four as the Cyclones hung with the Lady Bears thanks to senior guard Bridget Carleton’s scoring. Fifteen first quarter points for Carleton weren’t enough as Baylor held a 24-22 lead heading into the second quarter.
Carleton extended her game to the 3-point line in the second quarter, knocking down a deep shot to keep her team within one point with just one minute remaining in the half. With the exception of a 3-pointer from junior forward Lauren Cox at the end of the half, the Lady Bears scored all of their second quarter points either in the paint or at the free throw line.
Cox said her 3-pointer with seven seconds left in the half gave the Lady Bears much-needed momentum.
“It gave us a lot [of momentum],” Cox said. “It put us up six. To be able to score the last basket of the half — whoever gets that has confidence going into the half.”
Baylor senior center Kalani Brown led the team with 10 first half points to lead the Lady Bears to a 41-35 halftime lead. Meanwhile, Carleton had 24 of her team’s 35 first half points.
Baylor outscored Iowa State 25-12 in the third quarter to take a decisive 66-47 lead going into the final quarter. Cox led the way in the second half, scoring 15 of her 22 points while shooting 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
The Lady Bears shut down Carleton in the second half. The Cyclones’ star only notched four points on 1-for-5 shooting in the second half after scorching Baylor for 24 in the first half.
Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said they played Carleton too soft in the first half, but ultimately stuck to their defensive game plan well.
“I just went in and said, ‘Guys she’s got 24 of their 35 points. We’ve got to do a better job,'” Mulkey said. “Your concern when playing Iowa State is the 3-ball […] I didn’t want to give up threes. And we didn’t. They average 10 and we gave up seven.”
Baylor looks to move to 7-0 in conference play when it faces Oklahoma at 2 p.m. Sunday in Norman, Okla.