Baylor women 11th Sweet 16 in row after beating Cal 102-63
WACO, Texas (AP) — Talk about a sweet recipe for No. 1 overall seed Baylor — defense, rebounding and depth.
Add it all together and the perennial Big 12 champion Lady Bears are going to their 11th consecutive women’s NCAA Sweet 16 after another lopsided win over California.
“You’ve just got a bunch in that locker room that can play,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I was impressed with a lot of things on that floor for us.”
Juicy Landrum scored 20 points with four 3-pointers and Chloe Jackson, the first grad transfer to play for the Lady Bears, had had 18 as the Lady Bears responded from a deficit late in the first quarter with a big run and went on to a 102-63 victory Monday night.
While the guards were hitting shots, posts Kalani Brown (eight points, eight rebounds, five blocks) and Lauren Cox (10 points, seven rebounds) were going strong inside — and got help from three freshmen bigs who were productive for the Lady Bears (33-1) even when playing limited minutes.
Cal (20-13) led 16-14 after All-Pac-12 center Kristine Anigwe made a jumper, her only made field goal of the first half, with 1:14 left in the first quarter.
The last game in the Ferrell Center for Brown, Baylor’s 6-7 senior, was a matchup of two of the nation’s best centers. Brown had a putback basket for the first basket of the game with Anigwe on her back and another defender fronting her.
“Kalani was tremendous on the defensive end because she was very disciplined,” Mulkey said. “I just told her the thing that will impress people the most tonight is can you guard her, and I think she proved that she could.”
Baylor scored 15 points in a row after Anigwe’s go-ahead basket, part of a bigger 25-2 run during which Jackson had eight of her points. That turned the third NCAA meeting in six seasons between Baylor and Cal into yet another lopsided victory. The Lady Bears have a 25-game winning streak.
“Credit to Baylor. No shock. They’re really, really good,” Cal coach Lindsay Gottlieb said. “We said as a game plan, to make their guards beat us. … And their guards beat us.”
The 102 points were the second-most the Lady Bears have ever scored in an NCAA Tournament game — they outscored Cal 52-24 in the paint and their bench had a 37-5 scoring advantage. They outrebounded Cal 49-23.
Anigwe, who had two fouls in the game’s first 6 ½ minutes, finished with 13 points on 4-of-17 shooting and five rebounds. It was the first time the 6-foot-4 senior didn’t have a double-double — she had been the only player, men or women, with a double-double in every game this season until then.
“Nothing can really slow me down, but (with) the two fouls, I definitely had to adjust and play differently,” Anigwe said. “Kalani, she’s a really, really good player, and Lauren Cox is as well. Playing against them when I was in foul trouble was hard. I couldn’t really be as active as I wanted to be.”
Kianna Smith led Cal with 18 points. Recee Caldwell, a grad transfer who before going to UCLA and then Texas Tech was verbally committed to Baylor, scored 12 points.
When Baylor was making its big run in the second quarter, Brown had the ball in the lane when she twisted and passed over Anigwe’s shoulder to DiDi Richards flashing behind her for a wide-open layup that made it 35-18.
Baylor led 46-27 at the half after Landrum hit a buzzer-beating 3.
California: It was the third time in six seasons the Golden Bears won a first-round game in Waco and then had to face Baylor. They lost by 19 points in 2014 and fell by 40 two years ago. … Anigwe’s early fouls changed how aggressive she could be — at least for a few minutes. She had two more fouls in a 22-second span early in the third quarter and came out of the game briefly, but the game was already lopsided by then.
Baylor: The Lady Bears won their 16th consecutive NCAA Tournament game at home, all of them pretty much by lopsided margins. They finished 17-0 at home this season, and have won 39 in a row overall in Waco. … Baylor, going to its 14th Sweet 16 overall, needs two more wins to get to its first NCAA Final Four since their undefeated 40-0 national championship in 2012. … The Lady Bears already have wins this season over four of the other teams in the Sweet 16 — UConn, South Carolina, Arizona State and South Dakota State.
Baylor’s three freshman posts — Smith, Aquira DeCosta and Quenn Egbo — were a combined 12-of-24 shooting for 27 points and 20 rebounds in a combined 30 minutes. Smith, coming off a double-double in the NCAA opener against Abilene Christian, had 13 points and eight rebounds in 11 minutes against Cal.
Baylor is off to Greensboro for a Sweet 16 matchup Saturday against SEC team South Carolina, which the Lady Bears beat by 25 points on the road earlier season.