By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
With Iowa State packing the paint and daring Baylor to take outside shots, the sixth-ranked Lady Bears were more than willing to oblige.
Sophomore guard Natalie Chou hit her first six shots and drained five of Baylor's season-high 12 3-pointers as the Lady Bears (13-1, 3-0) took a 36-point halftime lead en route to an 89-49 blowout of the visiting Cyclones Wednesday night at the Ferrell Center.
"I thought it was very obvious once the game started what they were doing to Kalani (Brown) and (Lauren) Cox and trying not to let them get as much," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said of a post duo that combined for 27 points, about 10 below their average. "We can shoot it. We don't have to shoot a lot of 3's when you have 6-foot-7 and 6-foot-4 inside. I think you guys saw tonight, if we have to shoot it, we'll shoot it and keep shooting it."
Iowa State (7-7, 1-2) had shot a Big 12-high 329 treys coming into Wednesday's game and ranked among the national leaders with 9.1 made per game. But, the Cyclones missed their first 11 from outside the 3-point arc before Adriana Camber and Madison Wise hit back-to-back treys at the end of the second quarter.
"I'm disappointed we didn't do some things to give ourselves a chance to compete a little bit, but I think we missed our first seven shots and the game was pretty much over at the point," Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. "It was disappointing in a lot of ways, and I want to give Baylor credit. That's a great, great team. Nothing new from them."
As much as Chou set the tone on the offensive end, hitting five first-half 3-pointers and scoring 15 of her game-high 17 points, 6-2 senior forward Dekeiya Cohen did the same thing on the defensive end by harassing the Cyclones' Bridgett Carleton. A returning All-Big 12 pick who came in averaging 19.2 points per game, Carleton had just two points on 1-for-8 shooting through the first two quarters.
"Dekeiya Cohen just looked really challenged and enjoyed guarding Carleton," Mulkey said. "I thought our defense, we didn't allow them to penetrate, reverse dribble, set flare screens. We communicated, we talked. We didn't help ball side, but we knew help was there with the post players. I thought our defense was very good in the first half."
The Lady Bears jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first 4 ½ minutes and set a program record for largest halftime lead in a Big 12 game, taking a 52-16 lead into the locker room. Baylor had already made 8-of-15 from 3-point range at that point and finished a phenomenal 12-of-23 for the game, the fourth-best mark in school history.
Fennelly said it's "borderline impossible to guard them" when the Lady Bears are knocking down 3-pointers like that.
"You go into a game like that, and you need to pack it in a little bit and help with the big guys," he said. "I thought we did OK with that. We didn't do a couple things we practiced, and when that happens, they make you pay for it. When they shoot like that, we . . . a lot of people are in a lot of trouble."
Even the 6-4 Cox got into the act, hitting two 3-pointers and finishing with 14 points, four rebounds, four assists and two blocks. Brown notched her seventh double-double of the season and 19th of her career with 13 points and 11 boards, while Cohen had 14 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two blocks.
"Coach says if you're going to shoot them, get in the gym, put some extra shots up," said Cox, who matched her season total with the two made 3's. "So, that's what I've been doing. And they fell for me tonight."
Alexis Morris and Juicy Landrum scored 10 points apiece, giving the Lady Bears six double-figure scorers. Carleton scored 13 of her team-high 15 in the second half, while Emily Durr scored 10 off the bench for the Cyclones.
"We knew the scouting report and knew they would double-team the post and the shots would be open," Chou said. "Mostly, my teammates found me."
There was a light moment late in the third quarter when Mulkey caught an errant pass from point guard Kristy Wallace and flipped it back to Cohen.
"Did you see that pass? Pretty good, wasn't it?" said Mulkey, a point guard at Louisiana Tech and with USA Basketball at the Olympics. "Quick hands, even with a bad finger and all."
Before the game, Mulkey presented Fennelly with a collection of St. Louis Cardinals memorabilia that included the rookie card of her son, Kramer Robertson, the Cardinals' fourth-round draft pick out of LSU last year who started his pro career with the Peoria Chiefs of the Class A Midwest League.
"Bill and his grandson, Will, are both huge Cardinals' fans, so Kramer wanted me to give that stuff to them," Mulkey said.
Off to a 3-0 start in league play for the seventh time in the last eight years, Baylor goes on the road to face Kansas (11-3, 2-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Lawrence and then Oklahoma (6-7, 1-1) the following Sunday, Jan. 14, in Norman.