No. 1 Baylor women beat WVU to cap perfect Big 12 season
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Lauren Cox and Chloe Jackson wouldn’t let Baylor’s chances of a second straight perfect Big 12 season slip away.
Cox had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and she and Jackson answered West Virginia’s late scoring run and top-ranked Baylor beat the Mountaineers 63-57 on Monday night.
Baylor (28-1, 18-0 Big 12) never trailed in winning its 20th straight game entering the conference tournament. The Lady Bears went unbeaten in the Big 12 for the fourth time, joining teams from 2012, 2013 and last year.
They looked anything but invincible in a 41st consecutive Big 12 regular-season win, three shy of Baylor’s league record from 2011-14. The Lady Bears committed 19 turnovers and didn’t secure the win until time ran out on the cold-shooting Mountaineers (20-9, 11-7).
“I think it’s good to have these kind of games just because it reminds us that we can’t take any team for granted,” Cox said.
West Virginia used a 12-2 run to trim a 13-point deficit to 46-43 after Naomi Davenport’s layup early in the fourth quarter.
The Mountaineers then went scoreless over the next four minutes. Cox made five free throws and Jackson four down the stretch, Baylor pushed its lead back to eight points and the Lady Bears held on.
“We took West Virginia’s best shot, but we got a win,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said.
Baylor needed a strong game from Cox because top scorer and rebounder Kalani Brown was limited to eight points — just the fourth time this season she was held to single digits in scoring.
West Virginia couldn’t take advantage of early foul trouble to Brown and Jackson, Baylor’s assists leader. Davenport missed her first 10 shot attempts, including several layups, and the Mountaineers struggled to defend Cox, who had her sixth double-double of the season.
“We turned the ball over too much, got in early foul trouble with some key players, but we hung in there,” Mulkey said. “I thought it was just very physical.”
Juicy Landrum added 13 points for Baylor and Jackson finished with 10.
Davenport led West Virginia with 20 points. Tynice Martin added 18 and Kari Niblack scored 13.
“Give our girls credit, they did a great job,” said West Virginia coach Mike Carey. “I say a great job but we should’ve won that game. We didn’t execute down the stretch and that’s something you got to do to beat a team like Baylor.”
Baylor: The Lady Bears were held to their lowest point total of the season and won this one on the defensive end. Baylor has held its past seven opponents to 60 points or fewer.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers shot 35.7 percent from the floor and fell to 2-5 against ranked opponents this season. They are trying to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament and could use a solid showing in the league tournament to get there. Carey used much of his postgame comments to argue the Mountaineers deserve an NCAA berth.
“We won 20 games, 11 games in the conference,” he said. “We just played the number one team in the country down to the wire.”
Baylor, the unanimous No. 1 team in The Associated Press Top 25 poll , was named the top overall seed in the second NCAA Top 16 reveal Monday night and would be the top seed in the Greensboro Region.
“I think Baylor has a chance to win it all,” Carey said.
Davenport, Theresa Ekhelar and Katrina Pardee played in their final home game at West Virginia. Pardee played in her fourth game since returning from an ankle injury, which forced her to miss 10 games.
Baylor has a first-round bye in the Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City later this week. The Lady Bears are going after their 10th tournament title overall.
West Virginia heads into the conference tournament having lost three of four games.