WACO, Texas (AP) Baylor coach Kim Mulkey hasn’t always been happy with the energy her starting lineup plays with to start games.
The No. 9 Lady Bears had no problem getting started Sunday when taking on another national power, No. 16 Stanford, and being cheered on by a season-best crowd of more than 8,000 fans.
Kalani Brown had 28 points and Baylor scored the game’s first nine points, leading throughout in an 81-57 victory over the Cardinal.
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”The first five are the ones who have the most experience. That’s what I’ve decided to go with, and they sometimes don’t get off to the fastest of starts,” Mulkey said. ”The fastest of starts means the energy, the defensive assignments, the effort. All five of them, I thought today that they did.”
Brown was 12 for 16 from the floor and beat the Cardinal with postups, drives to the basket and shots from the top of the key.
Lauren Cox and Kristy Wallace added double-doubles for Baylor (7-1). Cox had 15 points and 15 rebounds, while Wallace had 15 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
”Kristy Wallace, no turnovers, almost played 40 minutes in the game, almost had a triple-double,” Mulkey said. ”She didn’t try to do too much, she made the right passes, she made hustle plays. She may have had her finest game in her career at Baylor.”
Stanford (5-4) struggled to find anything inside and made only 20 of 68 shots (29 percent) overall, including only 10 of 38 (26 percent) on 3-pointers.
”The first quarter was disappointing,” Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer said. ”We have an extremely young team that is just learning how to play. This early season has really been baptism by fire, and we were beaten clearly by a better team.”
All four of Stanford’s losses this season have come in their only games against Top 25 teams.
Baylor outrebounded Stanford 55-39 and held a 54-18 advantage in the paint.
Center Shannon Coffee led Stanford with 14 points off the bench, but four of her five made field goals were 3-pointers. Kiana Williams scored Stanford’s first 10 points and finished with 13, well above her season average of 4.9 points per game.
It was the second home game in a row that the Lady Bears dominated a ranked team, coming after a 90-63 victory over No. 20 Kentucky on Thursday.
Stanford: Brown and Cox proved to be a problem for the Cardinal inside with more than their production. They also got starting forwards Kaylee Johnson and Alanna Smith in major foul trouble early. Johnson and Smith both three fouls before halftime. Smith managed to work around that and finished with 11 points, but Johnson fouled out with 7:32 to go in the third quarter.
Baylor: The energy from the Lady Bears overwhelmed Stanford early. They compounded the 9-0 opening run by scoring 15 of the game’s first 18 points and led 25-8 at the end of the first quarter. Baylor got out of its offensive flow at times in the second and early in the third quarter, thanks in large part to questionable shot selection that allowed the Cardinal to get back within eight with 8:14 to go in the third. But the Lady Bears regrouped and got back to taking the ball inside to pull away.
NEXT YEAR IN CALI
The Lady Bears will return the favor with a road game against Stanford next year. When asked about that, VanDeveer said she wasn’t thinking that far ahead, but added, ”Brown doesn’t graduate, does she?” and joked that maybe Baylor’s junior center should jump to the WNBA early.
All of Stanford’s losses have come against Top-10 teams (Connecticut, twice to Ohio State and Baylor). It’s doesn’t get much easier with home games against No. 12 Tennessee and No. 7 UCLA still left before Pac-12 play. Baylor made a statement with its two wins this week and will likely move up.
Stanford has 12 days off before playing Dec. 16 at home against UNLV.
Baylor will remain home to face North Dakota on Tuesday night before an eight-day layoff.