Baylor women open NCAA tourney 77-36 over Northwestern St

WACO, Texas (AP) Niya Johnson and Lady Bears watched Baylor’s men lose their NCAA Tournament opener as a big favorite.

The Lady Bears didn’t even flirt with an upset, taking control with a big run early and winning again at home in the NCAA Tournament, 77-36 over Northwestern State on Friday.

”We talked about it,” Johnson said of the men getting upset by No. 14 seed Georgia State the day before. ”We don’t’ want to go home, we don’t want this to end. We just try to come out there with energy.”

The Big 12 champion Lady Bears (31-3), the No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City Regional, went ahead to stay with an early 14-2 run in which Nina Davis and Khadijah Cave each had six points to break a 7-7 tie.

”It’s just March Madness, I just have a different mindset,” said Davis, the Big 12 player of the year who had 17 points in 23 minutes. ”There’s so many upsets all over, men and women, that have already happened, and we just don’t want that to be us.”

Alexis Prince had 14 points for Baylor, including a 3-pointer to cap a 15-3 run after halftime with seven of eight shots made to go up 60-29.

Cave finished with 12 points and Kristy Wallace had 11 rebounds while playing a team-high 27 minutes. All 11 Baylor players got in for at least 11 minutes – and all scored.

The Lady Bears have won 20 home games in a row overall, including the first two rounds in last year’s NCAA Tournament. They opened at home for the fourth time in five years, and are now 7-0 in those NCAA games.

Baylor will try to get to the Sweet 16 for the seventh consecutive season when it hosts Arkansas (18-13) on Sunday. The Razorbacks from the SEC rallied for a 57-55 win over Northwestern of the Big Ten in the first game at Waco on Friday.

Janelle Perez had 10 points for Southland Conference tournament champion Northwestern State (19-15) coached by Brooke Stoehr, who like Baylor coach Kim Mulkey was an NCAA Final Four point guard at Louisiana Tech.

After playing for Leon Barmore at Louisiana Tech, Mulkey was an associate head coach for the legendary women’s coach and recruited Stoehr to play there. Mulkey was there for the younger guard’s first two seasons before leaving in 2000 for Baylor.

”This game is kind of difficult for me because Brooke’s on that other sideline, and I knew that what she had, and I knew that maybe they were outmatched a little bit, height, size, talent,” Mulkey said. ”But her team never stopped playing hard. She’s got her team playing hard.”

Northwestern State, which opened the game with a shot-clock violation on its first possession and then an air ball on a 3-point try the next one, tied the game at 7 on Tia Youngblood’s jumper with 15:22 left in the first half.

Davis made two free throws only 20 seconds later to start the 14-2 run. All of Cave’s points in that came on three layups, the last with 11:50 left in the halfto make it 21-9.

”We just faced a very, very good team. They’re balanced. They have a lot of size and a lot of depth,” Stoehr said. ”I’m extremely proud of our group and our team and the way they competed. They weren’t afraid.”

TIP-INS

Northwestern St.: The Lady Demons shot only 24 percent (14 of 59) overall. They had only six field goals after halftime.

Baylor: The Lady Bears finished with a 53-26 rebounding advantage. … Their 39 defensive rebounds were their most ever in an NCAA Tournament game.

UP NEXT

Northwestern St.: Season over.

Baylor: Play Arkansas in second-round game Sunday.

FIVE FOULS

Baylor finished the game with only five personal fouls – one each by five different players. And that’s what Mulkey mentioned when asked about having 23 assists and only five turnovers. ”How about those five fouls. I don’t know if I’ve ever coached a game where we had as few as fouls, particularly since we played man to man,” she said. ”I thought it was a misprint.

UNRANKEDS DON’T WIN IN WACO

Baylor has won 151 consecutive home games against unranked opponents. The last such loss was to Auburn in the 2003 WNIT finals.