By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Because of the 16-hour time difference, Australia Day had already started in Queensland by the time Baylor's resident Aussie Kristy Wallace went off for a career-high 27 points to lift the third-ranked Lady Bears to an 81-56 rout of the sixth-ranked Texas Longhorns.
"Whatever time zone it is, it's Australia Day. The Aussie did good," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.
Baylor's post duo of Kalani Brown and Lauren Cox dominated as usual, combining for 34 points and 21 rebounds, but it was Wallace's career night that helped Baylor cruise to an 81-56 win over the Longhorns Thursday night at the Ferrell Center before a crowd of 9,286.
"I was looking to attack," said Wallace, who was 11-of-16 from the floor and 2-of-3 from outside the 3-point arc. "Our bigs were doing a great job inside, and a few guards were helping off to begin with. So, I think that being able to attack from the perimeter and maybe hit a few shots, that kind of opened up the inside for them."
It's the kind of scoring performance that Wallace is "capable of doing night-in and night-out," Mulkey said. "She just doesn't have to do it all the time." "Kristy can score. She's just been a great distributor for our team this year," she said. "She's got 6-7 (Brown) and 6-4 (Cox) inside, they're having a great year. Tonight, she just had some openings and she felt it, and I ran a couple quick-hitters for her off the dribble."
With Baylor (18-1, 8-0) turning it over five times in the first six minutes, Texas (15-4, 6-2) managed to keep it close early and tied it up at 14-14 on a layup by Joyner Holmes. But, Walker scored nine points in a 28-7 run over the last 3 ½ minutes of the first quarter and six minutes into the second to stake the Lady Bears to a comfortable 40-21 lead.
Texas coach Karen Aston said she expected Baylor to come out with a lot of energy and "try to punch us, and that's exactly what they did."
"I was a little surprised, a lot surprised, by our team's lack of composure and competitiveness, in the first quarter in particular," Aston said. "We let our offensive woes tonight, our inability to make shots early, really dictate what we did on the defensive end."
Not surprisingly, Baylor's defense was it's typical suffocating self, holding the Longhorns to just nine points in the second quarter and 31.3 percent shooting overall (20-of-64) for the game. Senior guards Brooke McCarty and Ariel Atkins finished with 16 and 11 points, respectively, but they were a combined 2-for-15 in the first half.
Hounded by Wallace, McCarty missed her first seven shots before draining a baseline floater at the end of the second quarter that made it a 44-27 game at the half.
"I think Brook's a great player, she's the glue to their team," Wallace said. "She gets them going. She's a great player, quick girl. Being able to guard her and make sure she wasn't able to get easy baskets was my goal."
It was a Wallace 3-pointer from the corner late in the first quarter that ignited the season-high crowd, giving the Lady Bears a 22-16 lead at the 1:42 mark.
"She's our Energizer Bunny," said Brown, who had 17 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. "When she hit that shot in the corner, it made me feel good because I passed it to her. She's a game-changer for us. When she gets the crowd into it, we get hyped."
Cox added 17 points, 10 rebounds, six blocks and four assists for the Lady Bears, while Lashann Higgs had 13 points for the Longhorns.
Aston said Wallace was clearly the difference in the game.
"I thought very early Kristy was really aggressive," Aston said. "She scored six or eight points in transition, going downhill. You could tell that was a plan of theirs, definitely, to try to push the ball. We didn't do a good job of stopping the ball."
Baylor won for the 16th time in the last 17 meetings in the series and takes a two-game lead in the Big 12 standings.
The Lady Bears go back on the road to face 20th-ranked West Virginia (17-4, 5-4) at 2 p.m. CDT Sunday in Morgantown, W. Va., in a game televised by FS1.