Baylor bigs swat away Texas hopes of hosting first round

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guenther | Daily Texan Staff

In Kim Mulkey’s 18-plus seasons as the Baylor head coach, she has more than established her program as the perennial powerhouse of the Big 12 and a production factory for WNBA forwards.

Baylor isn’t a team that will decimate you with three-point shooting. They play old-school, beat-you-from-the-inside-out basketball. For teams like Texas, which desperately lack three-point shooting, Baylor’s overpowering one-two combo of Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown can be too much to handle.

For Texas, not being able to score in the paint meant not being able to score at all.

“We got it handed to us,” Texas head coach Karen Aston said. “They established themselves. It’s not a 20-minute game, it’s a 40-minute game. We kind of gave in.”

After forward Jatarie White had her first shot of the game stuffed back into her face by Big 12 Player of the Year favorite Kalani Brown, she knew she was in for a long night.

“I think they did put a little bit more emphasis on feeding (Kalani) the ball when there wasn’t enough help from the guards,” White said. “But I think they did a good job of looking for her this game.”

In the first half alone, the Bears swatted away eight Texas shots. While the Longhorns managed to have 14 of their 16 first-half points inside the paint, it came at a hefty price as Texas only shot 22 percent from the field.

“You’re not going to score consistently against this team (by) taking quick shots,” Aston said. “The aggressiveness that we didn’t bring was surprising to me … but at some point you’ve got to make shots, and we just didn’t.”

Texas finished with a season low of 35 points and 20 percent shooting.

As much as a problem as Brown proved to be finishing with a cool 19 point, 12 rebound, two-assist statline, her counterpart Lauren Cox was equally impressive, turning in six blocks, one shy of her season high.

For Baylor, having an opponent challenge Cox and Brown is a rare but inviting opportunity.

“We welcome (going to the post),” Mulkey said. “We don’t get to see that much. We just don’t see post players that size and that big matchup with us.”

However, “matchup” proved to be a relative term on Monday night. The Texas frontcourt of Joyner Holmes and Jatarie White were outmatched by Baylor from the start and finished with a combined 15 points on 6-23 shooting.

Mistakes for the Baylor bigs were few and far between. Different looks from the Texas defense caused the occasional turnover in the first half, but Baylor quickly noticed and corrected its mistakes.

“I think we just wanted to do better than what we did when we went (to Austin),” Brown said. “Even when they don’t double, you’ve got to take advantage of that. Two times I think I threw it away because I’m so programmed to that triple team coming (that) I just threw it away.”

With the win, Baylor likely remains the No. 1 ranked team in the country, powered by the workhorse combination of their inside bigs as the team racks up their 39th consecutive conference win.

However, the thought of losing doesn’t intimidate Brown in the slightest. When asked if she relishes teams challenging Baylor’s interior presence, Brown replied, “Yeah, absolutely.”