By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
Lauren Cox acted like she was trying to make up for lost time.
After missing last Saturday's loss at UCLA because of complications with her diabetes, Baylor's 6-foot-4 sophomore forward filled up the stat sheet with 18 points, 10 rebounds, seven blocks, three assists and three steals to lift the No. 8 Lady Bears (4-1) to a 100-58 rout of Missouri State Thursday afternoon at the Junkanoo Jam in Bimini, Bahamas.
"It's just good to see her healthy and back on the floor," said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey, who also missed the last game to be with her daughter, associate director of operations Makenzie Fuller, after the death of her infant daughter, Scout.
"Normally, when we get sick, we just have to wait and get well, maybe take a few pills. Lauren has to be monitored because of her diabetes. For that kid to come out here today and do what she did, I don't care who you play against, it's good to have her back."
Mulkey also enjoyed being back with the team, saying there is nothing like "being on the court and smelling all the sweat and hearing the tennis shoes. It's fun to be back on the sidelines."
Bouncing back from its first loss of the year, Baylor jumped on Missouri State (1-3) early, scoring the first six points and taking a double-digit lead just 3:12 into the game on a three-point play by Kalani Brown.
"We really wanted to get off to a quick start," Cox said. "We haven't been doing that lately. We knew that's what we needed to do. This game and the game on Saturday, we just need to get off to a quick start. That's what gets us going."
The Lady Bears were up by 14 after the first quarter and stretched the lead to 58-25 by halftime, with freshman point guard Alexis Morris going 4-of-4 from the floor and scoring nine of her 17 points in the second quarter.
"I just thought Kristy Wallace being able to move to the 2 (shooting guard) some, it allows Alexis to push the ball up the floor and makes us a better team," Mulkey said. "Morris hit some big-time shots today, and she's also so quick. The faster she can grow up, the better we get."
Baylor dominated inside, outscoring MSU 62-14 in the paint and winning the battle of the boards, 42-33.
Cox and the 6-7 Brown combined to hit 15-of-22 shots from the floor and scored 38 points, while Dekeiya Cohen recorded her first double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
"I thought Kalani passed the ball too much, quite honestly," Mulkey said of Brown, who scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor after a 33-point outing against UCLA. "She had too many layups at the rim, and she was throwing the ball back to teammates. . . . Kalani knows when she has to step up and finish those shots and quit passing and being nice."
On the defensive end, Cox had seven of the Lady Bears' nine blocks, setting a new career high.
"You don't want to take that part of her game away from her," Mulkey said. "If you do it under control where you don't pick up an unnecessary foul like she has in a couple games this year already, block all you want."
Cox said the big blocks "hype us up and it's exciting, and I love to get those."
Natalie Chou and Didi Richards had nine points apiece, while freshman guard Trinity Oliver had a career-high seven points to go with four rebounds, one assist and a block. Alexa Willard and Aubrey Buckley had 13 and 12 points, respectively, while Baylor's defense limited Missouri Valley Preseason Player of the Year Liza Fruendt to just seven points on 2-of-8 shooting from the field.
Baylor advances to Saturday's 1 p.m. CDT championship game to face Georgia Tech (6-0), which got by Penn, 69-55.