Baylor secures 11th straight Sweet 16 bid with blowout win over Cal

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

The Lady Bears advanced to their 11th straight Sweet 16 after defeating California 102-63 on Monday night at the Ferrell Center

Junior guard Juicy Landrum led the Lady Bears with 20 points, shooting 8-for-14 on field goals and 4-for-8 on 3-pointers. Landrum was followed by three other players who scored double digits.

The Lady Bears contained Cal center Kristine Anigwe, snapping her 33 double-double game streak and holding her to only 13 points and five rebounds. Freshman guard Kianna Smith led the Cal Golden Bears with 15 points.

Monday night’s win marked the third meeting and victory against the Golden Bears in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The two teams last faced one another in 2017, where the Lady Bears won 86-46.

Trying to avenge their past matchups against the Lady Bears, the Cal Golden Bears came into the game hot — tight on defense and with clean rotations. With four lead changes, and the game tied four times, a back and forth battle was established. Two seconds prior to the second quarter, senior Chloe Jackson scored a jumper to put the Lady Bears on top 19-16.

The second quarter opened with a quickened pace for the Lady Bears. Within the first two minutes, the Lady Bears notched six points and came up with a defensive steal. Baylor’s momentum continued to grow as the Ferrell Center erupted into deafening cheers. Jackson said the Lady Bears’ transitions broke the back-and-forth battle.

“We knew eventually we could run them down and get them tired,” Jackson said. “Our transition is our go-to, really. We love to get our transition on and once we started that, getting passes, getting steals … we knew they couldn’t keep up much longer.”

The Golden Bears stood at a standstill until the last five minutes of the half, shooting below 37 percent compared to Baylor’s 70 percent. Not only were the Golden Bears unable to establish a consistent offense, but in the second quarter alone had six turnovers for 10 points compared to their clean first quarter with only two turnovers for two points. Topping off the Lady Bears growing momentum with a 3-point buzzer beater from Landrum, the teams went into the break 46-27.

Just as the first half closed, the third quarter began with a three for Landrum. Landrum credited her opening second-half success to head coach Kim Mulkey calming her down and gaining momentum.

“[The 3-pointer before the half] was a big moment of change. The shot before that was an airball, but we were supposed be running a play and it wasn’t open, so I just hit the shot. I had to look up and had two seconds to get my shot in,” Landrum said. “At halftime before we came out, coach told me just to quit rushing and to settle down, to keep my feet and relax and shoot. That helped me settle down.”

Although applying pressure with double and triple man coverage, the Golden Bears couldn’t stop Baylor, as Landrum was perfect on 3-pointers, notching nine points by mid-quarter. The Lady Bears lead grew to 39 as they scored 33 points alone in the third compared to Cal’s 13.

Landrum’s shooting streak couldn’t be stopped as Baylor’s first possession in the fourth started with a jumper — her eighth of the night. Though both teams scored 23 points in the fourth, the deficit was too large for the Golden Bears to come back from as they fell to Baylor 102-63. Cal head coach Lindsay Gottlieb said the biggest team struggle was facing the Baylor bigs and being unable to keep up.

“They’re so powerful in the inside and there’s so many bodies coming at you,” Gottlieb said. “We say Kalani [Brown] and [Lauren] Cox, but there’s three more coming off the bench that are pretty darn good. So you can’t play them one-on-one in the inside so you have to give up something.”

Mulkey, on the other hand, credited the win to three important aspects of the team.

“The best defensive team is going to win. The best rebounding team is going to win. And depth is going to be a factor,” Mulkey said. “I thought all three of those things played out.”

The Lady Bears will travel to Greensboro, N.C. to face No. 4 seed South Carolina 1 p.m. Saturday.