By Jerry Hill
Baylor Bear Foundation
When Stanford's defense came out in a man-to-man defense and a post player behind her, Baylor junior All-American Kalani Brown's eyes immediately lit up.
"I didn't think they would play behind," the 6-foot-7 Brown said. "They're more of a three-quarter team. So, when they did play behind, I thought, `Wow, take advantage of it.'''
And she did . . . all day.
Brown was an efficient 12-of-16 from the floor and finished with 28 points to lift the ninth-ranked Lady Bears to a comfortable 81-57 win over the No. 16 Stanford Cardinal before a season-high crowd of 8,012 at the Ferrell Center.
"We had no answer for Brown," said Stanford Hall of Fame coach Tara VanDerveer, who has 1,017 career victories in leading the Cardinal to the Final Four seven times in the last 10 years. "She had her way in there."
Most of Brown's 16 shots did come from within breathing distance of the rim but, just like 6-4 sophomore forward Lauren Cox, she's also lethal from the top of the key.
Senior guard Kristy Wallace, who had 15 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists and zero turnovers, said when Brown gets rolling like that, "I'm going to give her the ball anytime I can."
Even with Brown grabbing just three rebounds, Baylor's inside duo of Brown and Cox combined for 43 points, 18 boards, seven assists and four blocks. Cox had her fourth double-double of the season and third in the last four games with 15 points, 15 rebounds and a career-high-tying six assists.
"I looked at Kalani's rebounds and thought, `Three rebounds?''' Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. "But then I thought, `Well, Cox is hogging it, so she can't get any (rebounds).' Cox is in there helping her this year."
VanDerveer said it's "double trouble" for Baylor's opponents.
"One of them is difficult, but two of them together is double trouble," she said. "Kalani, with her size, she's just so much bigger in there. . . . She's not just big, but she's very skilled, finishes very well at the basket. We were trying to double her, but we didn't get there."
Cox and Brown combined to net 13 of the Lady Bears' first 15 points as they scored the first nine points of the game and helped Baylor take a 15-3 lead halfway through the first quarter.
"We started off really well. We came out ready to play," Wallace said. "We knew the scout, we knew what to do, we just had to execute. We were able to go out there and run, and the big girls were finishing."
Freshman guard Kiana Williams scored all eight of Stanford's points in the first quarter, hitting a 3-pointer with 24 seconds left. But, Wallace came off a screen and nailed a jumper to give the Lady Bears a commanding 25-8 lead.
"I thought this kid right here (Wallace) set the tone for our basketball team," Mulkey said. "No turnovers, almost played 40 minutes, almost had a triple-double. She didn't try to do too much, she just made the right passes, made hustle plays. She may have had her finest game in her career at Baylor today."
A dismal 2-for-16 from the floor in the first quarter, Stanford (5-4) picked it up in the second quarter, hitting 6-of-18 and outscoring the Lady Bears, 18-14, in the period to trail 39-26 at the break. The Cardinal had actually cut the deficit to single digits before a driving layup by Brown and another pull-up jumper by Wallace at the buzzer.
"I got a good screen set for me, and I was able to be open off the dribble," Wallace said. "I practice that shot a lot, and I was able to hit it, which was cool."
Stanford scored the first five points of the third quarter to pull back within eight, 39-31. But, the Cardinal missed 10 of its next 13 shots and was down 58-40 at the end of the quarter when Baylor hit another buzzer beater, this time by freshman guard Alexis Moore on a driving layup.
She didn't get it off before the last second ticked off the clock, but Stanford sophomore Dijonai Carrington nailed a shot from about 60 feet that hit nothing but net.
Baylor's "big three" of Brown, Cox and Wallace scored 58 of the Lady Bears' 81 points, but Natalie Chou had seven points and three steals, Morris had six points and two assists and sophomore guard Juicy Landrum tied a career high with seven rebounds.
This was Baylor's first full game without freshman guard Trinity Oliver, who suffered a torn ACL in her left knee in Thursday's 90-63 blowout of No. 20 Kentucky.
"We're pretty good," Mulkey said. "Don't look at numbers. Don't make excuses for us. I don't usually play but eight or nine, anyway. . . . You look at 1 through 9 on my roster, those kids can play. And they're all going to play and they're all going to contribute. I think it also makes them have a stronger camaraderie and a bond and a closeness than maybe a larger team."
The Lady Bears play just three more pre-conference games, beginning with Tuesday's 7 p.m. matchup at home against North Dakota (4-2). The Fighting Hawks have won four in a row since opening the season with road losses at then-No. 19 Oregon State and San Diego State.