March 21, 2005
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By TIM BOOTH
Associated Press Writer
SEATTLE (AP) - There was no celebration. Baylor simply took a few moments to acknowledge its fans, listened to the band play and moved on.
The Lady Bears are playing like a championship contender and aren't going to be satisfied with anything less.
For the second straight game, the Lady Bears put away an opponent early. This time it was 10th-seeded Oregon, as Baylor used an 18-0 first half run to beat the Ducks 69-46 Monday night in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
"I like our demeanor. There wasn't a lot of celebrating on the floor," Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson said. "Sure we're happy ... but we've been to a Sweet 16 now and we'd like to go a little bit further."
Baylor, the No. 2 seed in the Tempe Regional, will face Minnesota in the regional semifinals Saturday. It's Baylor's second straight regional trip.
The Lady Bears improved to 29-3, their most victories since winning 29 in 1980-81.
Again, the Lady Bears got it done with defense. In its first round game against Illinois State, Baylor scored the first 17 points and led by at least 15 points the final 28 minutes.
Against Oregon, the Lady Bears held the Ducks to just two points over the final 8 minutes of the first half, turning a 16-15 deficit into a 34-18 halftime advantage. The 46 points were the fewest Baylor has allowed this season.
"Our defense was pretty great and our offense was awesome," said Baylor's Sophia Young. "We just tried to attack and be really aggressive on defense."
Young led the Lady Bears with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting. She scored Baylor's first seven points of the second half, extending its lead to 41-20 and Oregon (21-10) never got closer than 14.
It was Young's 42nd straight game scoring in double figures and her highest point total since scoring 29 against Nebraska on Jan. 12.
The Lady Bears also proved they can play more of a half-court game against a team with the size to match the post duo of Young and Steffanie Blackmon, both first-team all-Big 12 selections.
"We knew they were really big players and we knew that we had to try to go at them," Young said.
Baylor trailed Oregon 16-15 with 8:03 left in the first half after a 3-pointer by Oregon's Kristen Forristall. But the Ducks turned the ball over on four of their next five possessions and missed four straight shots. Baylor capitalized.
Blackmon began asserting herself on the inside, scoring half of Baylor's points during an 18-0 spurt that gave them a 33-16 lead with 3:20 left. She finished with 17 points.
"We just had a slump there where we had some turnovers and weren't hitting our baskets," Oregon's Cathrine Kraayeveld said.
Baylor forced 16 first-half turnovers, including 11 steals, and frustrated Oregon's post players. Baylor's defense double-teamed every pass to the post and Baylor point guard Chelsea Whitaker had four steals in the first half, and the Lady Bears finished with 18 steals.
Oregon managed just eight field goals in the first half.
"They are a very quick team. As quick of a team as we've ever seen," Oregon coach Bev Smith said.
The Lady Bears defense also made Kraayeveld, Oregon's leading scorer, a non-factor. Kraayeveld made a 3-pointer with 17:28 left in the first half, but didn't score again until the 14:10 mark of the second half.
Kraayeveld led the Ducks with 15 points, but made just 3-of-11 shots. She had 23 in Oregon's first-round win over TCU. The 46 points was Oregon's second-lowest output of the season and the Ducks finished with 24 turnovers.
Oregon fell to 0-5 in second-round tournament games and 5-12 overall. The Ducks were making their first tournament appearance since 2001.
Baylor lost in last year's regional semifinal to Tennessee 71-69. Blackmon missed the game with a knee injury and can't wait to get a shot at Minnesota.
"This year it is exciting to keep going every game and see how far we can go," Blackmon said. "I'm glad just to be here and a part of it."