By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
When you try to stop it with the kind of undersized post players that Lamar Cardinals coach Robin Harmony kept rotating in, it's "almost impossible to stop."
"That size is unbelievable," Harmony said.
Simply put, the Cardinals had no answer for Brown, who had 26 points and a career-high 21 rebounds as the Lady Bears tipped off the regular season Friday night with a 121-62 blowout of Lamar before a Ferrell Center crowd of 5,410.
"The only way we stopped it was when they called her for (a three-second violation in the lane) about four times," Harmony said. "And even when you do try to stop it, they just kick it out and pop the three. This is an Elite Eight team and they'll probably be in the Final Four this year."
Led by Brown and Cox, who chipped in with 14 points, seven rebounds, three assists and two of Baylor's eight blocks, the Lady Bears outscored the Cardinals, 68-12, in the paint and crushed them on the boards, 62-29.
As efficient as Brown was - hitting 11-of-16 from the field and scoring nearly a point per minute (26 in 32) - she had to take a seat on the Baylor bench next to coach Kim Mulkey 2 ½ minutes into the game after losing the opening tip and missing a layup on the first possession.
"She's ducking her head, because she knows it starts with her," Mulkey said. "We've got to get that tip. We have to start the game, get the tip, set the tone. I think she missed a layup right out of the gate, so I sat her for a while."
Lamar actually took an early 10-7 lead in the first 3 ½ minutes of the game on back-to-back 3-pointers by freshman guard Jadyn Pimentel and a pair of buckets by 6-0 senior center Kiandra Bowers, who was giving up seven inches to Brown.
Hopefully, Harmony and the Cardinals stopped long enough to take a quick snapshot of the scoreboard. Baylor scored 22 unanswered points, capped by a pair of Brown free throws, and was up 39-15 at the end of the first quarter.
"We hung in there for five minutes, and then the wheels came off," Harmony said. "The disappointing point for us is we hang our hat on defense . . . and they pretty much scored at will."
Brown has scored more. She had a career-high 35 points and 19 rebounds in a 70-67 win over then-No. 6 Texas that ultimately decided last year's Big 12 championship.
But, she topped her previous high by two rebounds and nearly matched Lamar on the boards, 21-29.
"Actually, one of my goals is to average a double-double this year," said Brown, who averaged 15.4 points and 8.2 rebounds as a sophomore. "I guess I went over it a little bit today. Having that kind of dominance is what Coach wants me to do, so I'm just going to keep doing it."
Senior point guard Kristy Wallace hit three 3-pointers and scored 13 of her 15 points in the first quarter. She added seven rebounds, six assists, three steals and only two turnovers.
"I had a few open shots early, and then at the end we were able to move the ball around and get it into Kalani," Wallace said. "She was really working in there. I just started off hot, which is good, and my teammates were able to find me."
The Lady Bears assisted on 32 of the team's 44 made field goals. Sophomore wing Natalie Chou had a career-high 22 points and added eight boards and six assists, with senior forward Dekeiya Cohen tallying 16 points, six rebounds and five assists and freshman guard Alexis Morris scoring an even dozen off the bench.
Mulkey said her four freshmen have been "up and down" through the Lady Bears' two exhibition games and Friday's official season opener.
"You can't look into the future and tell how quickly they'll become consistent," she said. "The games will tell me a lot here early, because you've got to have consistency out of freshmen, and you can't rush that. It just takes time."
Opening the season with three games in five days, all at home, Baylor will face Coppin State at 2 p.m. Sunday and then Central Arkansas at 7 p.m. Tuesday.