By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Baylor's opponents should beware. This Lady Bear team is going to get in passing lanes, force turnovers and sprint to the other end for fast-break opportunities.
The visiting Washburn Ichabods got to experience every bit of that pressure, finishing with more turnovers (39) than points, as the third-ranked Lady Bears capped off their exhibition season with a 117-33 victory Monday night at the Ferrell Center.
"If you look at our steals (23), that's a lot of activity going on," said coach Kim Mulkey, who rotated her 10 players fairly evenly getting ready for Friday's regular season opener against Lamar. "I don't care who you play, that's buying into getting in passing lanes and really being aggressive."
Led by senior forward Dekeiya Cohen with 19 points, nine rebounds, four assists and two steals, Baylor had seven of its 10 players score in double figures. Starting posts Lauren Cox and Kalani Brown had 17 points apiece, Natalie Chou and freshman guard Alexis Morris each added 13, Kristy Wallace had 11 points, eight assists and no turnovers and Juicy Landrum finished with an even 10 points.
"It was great to get out there and run the floor and push the ball," Wallace said. "A few of those passes were a little bit risky, but I had teammates that were ready to catch it. That's the good thing about playing with these guys is they're ready for it."
The same goes for Morris, a lightning-quick point guard that added three assists, five steals and only one turnover in 19 minutes off the bench.
"Morris is so quick," Mulkey said. "You better be in the game ready to run. Sometimes, she has to wait on people, because she's so quick with the ball in her hands. . . . I need a post rotation and I need a guard rotation, and I thought Dekeiya Cohen and Alexis Morris gave us a good rotation there."
After starting the 6-2 Cohen at the wing in last Tuesday's 122-44 win over Tarleton State, Mulkey went with 6-1 freshman Didi Richards in Monday night's starting lineup with Cox, Brown, Wallace and Chou.
"Didi just brings an aggressiveness on the defensive end of the floor," Mulkey said. "She's just very active with her hands, she's quick, you're not going to beat her much off the dribble. I think she could be a really good defensive stopper for us. I needed to see her with some of those returning players."
Washburn actually took an early 3-2 lead on a 3-pointer by Alexis McAfee, who had 14 of the Ichabods' 33 points. But, the Lady Bears answered with a 9-0 run and led for all but 27 seconds in the game.
One thing Washburn didn't do was challenge inside. The Ichabods shot just four free throws for the game and got six of their 12 made field goals from outside the 3-point arc.
"When we're playing smaller teams, they're not going to want to bring it in, because we have me, Kalani and Dekeiya inside," said the 6-4 Cox, who added seven boards, four steals and two blocks. "They'll bring their posts out, and we'll have to go out and guard them."
With the lack of depth, particularly inside, Mulkey has stressed that Cox has to stay out of foul trouble. In the two exhibitions, she had seven blocks and no fouls.
"That's one thing (Mulkey) has emphasized is staying out of foul trouble, especially because we only have three posts this year," Cox said. "I can't get in foul trouble early. I have to know when to foul."
The 6-1 Chou can play inside, as needed, while Cohen will likely still play some on the perimeter "in the big, tough games," Mulkey said.
"Natalie's very capable of playing inside," she said. "With USA Basketball, she had to go guard the big girl from South Carolina (A'ja Wilson) when she was at the tryouts, because they had a couple bigs on her team get injured. I don't hesitate to use her down there at all. She's got moves . . . she's just got a knack for getting the big girls to foul her. She'll be my fourth post."
Baylor tips off the regular season with a matchup against Lamar at 7 p.m. Friday at the Ferrell Center. The Cardinals won 22 games last season and advanced to the Women's Basketball Invitational.
- No. 3 Baylor defeated Washburn, 117-33, in exhibition play on Monday inside the Ferrell Center.
- Guard Kristy Wallace, guard Didi Richards, guard Natalie Chou, forward Lauren Cox and center Kalani Brown started for the Lady Bears.
- All 10 players scored points in the Lady Bears win, each playing at least 12 minutes.
- Seven players scored in double figures, including junior Kalani Brown (17), senior Dekeiya Cohen (19), freshman Alexis Morris (13), sophomore Lauren Cox (17), senior Kristy Wallace (11), sophomore Natalie Chou (13) and sophomore Juicy Landrum (10).
- The Lady Bears dominated the paint, registering 80 of their 117 points inside and outrebounding the Ichabods, 117-33.
- Baylor shot 65.3 percent from the floor, and limited Washburn to 25.0 percent.
- The Lady Bear defense was suffocating, forcing 39 turnovers and registering 23 steals.
- Cohen led Baylor on the glass for the second game in a row with nine rebounds, just shy of posting a double-double off the bench.
Kim Mulkey Postgame Quotes:
Overall thoughts on the final exhibition game...
"I thought Didi just brings a presence on the defensive end of the floor. She's very active with her hands, and she's very quick. You don't beat her much off the dribble. I think she can be a really big defensive stopper for us and I needed to see her with some of the returning players. I need a post rotation and a guard rotation and I thought Dekeiya Cohen and Alexis Morris can give us a good rotation there. Morris is so quick, you better be in the game ready to run because she just sometimes has to wait on people. If you look at our steals, that's a lot of activity going on and I don't care who you play that's getting in passing lanes and really being aggressive."
Dekeiya Cohen coming off the bench...
"Dekeiya has been the most consistent post player that we have had to this point. It's a rotation thing more than anything at this point. I can go with Lauren Cox off the bench too. I think it's going to depend on who we play and those three post players are going to play significant minutes so it really doesn't matter. It's just make sure you have a post that can come in and sub for you. I didn't use Dekeiya on the perimeter tonight as the freshmen develop. I hope that I don't have to, but I know freshmen are freshmen. In tough games, Dekeiya might have to go out there and play some perimeter for us."
Did you see the improvement you wanted to from the help side defense...
"Some I did, but some I didn't. I don't want to call out kids, they know. I think it's more of they always worry about their man. It's a game, you have to guard the basketball. The second thing is they don't like to take charges because they don't want to get hit. We can fix it."