Brown leads top-ranked Baylor to 27th straight win over TCU

Story by Jessika Harkay | Sports Writer, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Sports Director

No. 1-ranked Baylor women’s basketball snapped Texas Christian University’s five game win streak after defeating the Horned Frogs 89-71 Saturday afternoon at the Ferrell Center for the Lady Bears’ 27th straight win over TCU.

All-American senior center Kalani Brown had a season-high game with 32 points, going 11-for-12 on field goals and 10-for-10 on free throws to help the Lady Bears improve to 21-1 (11-0) with their 34th straight Big 12 win.

TCU fell to 0-4 against ranked teams this season with two of the losses coming from the Lady Bears. Although the Horned Frogs took a loss, TCU head coach Raegan Pebley said she is proud of the way her team competed.

“It’s not the result we came here for and prepared for but I’m always proud of my team and proud of the women they are, and the toughness that they continue to show,” Pebley said. “I think what makes Kalani Brown so good is Lauren Cox. They have two players that can stretch the defense a little bit and make it difficult to pull a double.”

The Lady Bears got off to a slow start. Baylor had four turnovers within the first five minutes of the game as TCU aggressively came in with rotation plays and accurate 3-pointers (3-3) from senior forward Amy Okonkwo, giving TCU its first nine points of the game. With four lead changes throughout the first quarter, TCU’s ability to cause turnovers and capitalize off them kept the game close with Baylor leading 23-20.

The slow start for the Lady Bears continued into the second quarter, as a five-second violation, aggressive double teams by the TCU defense and struggling offense contributed to the drought. The Lady Bears were 0-for-2 on 3’s as TCU made five in the first half. Yet, the Lady Bears defense kept them in the game, scoring 14 points off TCU turnovers.

Going into the half, Okonkwo carried the Horned Frogs with 18 points, allowing TCU to stay within 7 points, 38-31.

The third quarter opened as a foul match with eight fouls in the first three minutes of the quarter, five of which that came from Baylor. Yet momentum grew for the Lady Bears as Brown scored 13 points in the third, matching her first half statistics. The Lady Bears went into the fourth outscoring TCU by 10 points and being able to hold Okonkwo to only four points. Okonkwo said the Horned Frogs lost their momentum in the second half.

“I think it was a matter of executing,” Okonkwo said. “I don’t think there was anything wrong with the way my team was playing. We just needed more movement to make the defense work and create those open opportunities, not only for myself, but for the rest of my team. … Even when we were down by 10, 15, I still thought we had a chance. … In the second half we just needed to have a better focus.”

By the fourth quarter, the Lady Bears led 65-47. In the fourth quarter alone, the Lady Bears had 10 assists, finishing the game with 30 and showing the power and communication the offense had throughout the game to finish on a high note, 89-71. Head coach Kim Mulkey said that the Lady Bears’ assists contribute not only to the team’s success but their confidence too.

“We’ve been doing that all year. We don’t harp on it. It wasn’t a goal of ours to lead the country or the Big 12 in assists to turnover ratios,” Mulkey said. “We mentioned that you want a 2:1 ratio, but it just seems like a team that likes to share the ball with each other very well. … I knew we could score the ball, I knew we could defend, but that’s an added dimension to this team that’s pretty special.”

The Lady Bears next play Kansas State at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Manhattan, Kan.