Lady Bears dominate ACU to open NCAA Tournament

Story by DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer, Video by Noah Torr | Executive Producer

The No. 1-seeded Baylor women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament by defeating No. 16 seed Abilene Christian 95-38 on Saturday at the Ferrell Center.

It was the Lady Bears’ show from the beginning and they played it up to a crowd of 6,669 people, which was the fourth largest of all 16 first-round sites. Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said she loved the energy the crowd brought.

“I thought the atmosphere was outstanding. I thought the crowd was great. They need to come back Monday night, 8 p.m. start, from what I’ve been told,” Mulkey said. “So that’s going to hit into the Geritol time for a lot of our fans, so they need to take it, get their naps in, so that they can be back here because, guys, that was special tonight.”

Baylor notched several program bests in this first round of the 2019 tournament with 61 rebounds, 24 offensive rebounds and a 69.2 percent in three-point field-goal percentage.

The Lady Bears kicked off the game with a 20-0 run and outscored the Wildcats 26-3 in the first quarter, marking the sixth time this season that Baylor’s had a run of 20 or more and the 30th time they’ve had a run of 10 or more.

Senior center Kalani Brown scored a game-high 17 points and recorded her second straight double-double, fourth overall, in her NCAA Tournament career with 11 rebounds. Freshman forward NaLyssa Smith also had a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds. Brown said she was proud of her young teammate for getting her first double-double in an NCAA Tournament as well as proud of the rest of the freshmen for the performance they had off the bench.

“NaLyssa got her first double-double in the NCAA Tournament, and I was excited for her,” Brown said. “Watching them work and not miss a beat, I mean, it don’t get no better than that.”

Junior forward Lauren Cox and junior guard Juicy Landrum also scored 14 points each and were followed by freshman forward Aquira DeCosta who scored 11. Landrum and DeCosta combined to make six of Baylor’s nine shots from the deep.

The entire roster saw time on the court with sophomore guard Didi Richards and freshman center Queen Egbo getting the most play time at 21 minutes.

Richards provided game-high seven assists and a team-high six offensive rebounds. Mulkey said Richards is one of the team’s greatest assets.

“The kid, she’s just an unbelievable defensive stopper. She has length in on the perimeter. She’s always active,” Mulkey said. “She was great on the boards today. People think a liability is on the offensive with Didi, but she can’t come off the floor. She’s not a liability. She figures out ways to stay on the floor and beat you.”

Baylor moves on to face California on Monday night for a Bear vs Bear match up in the second round to see who will travel to Greensboro, NC for the Sweet Sixteen. The Golden Bears defeated the North Carolina Tar Heels 92-72 in round one.