Top-seed Baylor women overwhelm NCAA 1st-timer ACU 95-38

STEPHEN HAWKINS (AP Sports Writer)
The Associated Press

WACO, Texas (AP) -- Kalani Brown and her Baylor teammates got to be silly and goofy when their first-round women's NCAA Tournament game was over. They had a different kind of fun on the court.

''I just thought we were having fun today doing what we do best, getting out in transition,'' Brown said. ''We were hitting on all cylinders. Keep playing like that, hey, you never know.''

Brown had 17 points and 11 rebounds while playing only 18 minutes and top-seeded Baylor overwhelmed women's NCAA Tournament first-timer Abilene Christian 95-38 on Saturday night.

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Brown, a 6-foot-7 senior center, had 10 of her points as Baylor (32-1) scored the game's first 20 points.

''We just hopped on them early and got them back on their heels,'' Brown said.

The perennial Big 12 champion Lady Bears, the No. 1 overall seed in the 64-team field, won their 15th consecutive NCAA Tournament game on their home court since 2011. This season, their 24-game winning streak is the nation's longest and they have won 38 in a row at home.

''The silliness you just saw up here, they wouldn't be like that if we hadn't won,'' coach Kim Mulkey said after Brown, Landrum and Didi Richards (eight rebounds, seven assists) left the podium following a giggle-filled postgame appearance. ''They play extremely hard. They don't play silly. They don't play goofy. They play tough.''

Lauren Cox, Baylor's 6-4 post, had 14 points in 17 minutes and was on the bench with Brown and other starters in different chunks of the game and throughout the fourth quarter. Juicy Landrum, another starter, had 14 points with three 3-pointers in 19 minutes as coach Kim Mulkey freely substituted during the game.

Mulkey had five freshmen on the court together at times and all of them played at least 14 minutes. That included NaLyssa Smith with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 18 minutes, and Aquira DeCosta making three 3s and scoring 11 points in 16 minutes.

The Wildcats (23-10), the Southland Conference Tournament champions and in only their second season of Division I eligibility, missed their first 12 shots before Breanna Wright made a 3-pointer with 2:47 left in the first quarter. They then missed 13 more shots before Wright made another 3 midway through the second quarter to make it 35-6.

''Coming from the Southland, the posts are normally the tallest on the court. They had some length in their guards as well.'' Wright said. ''We were a little timid at the beginning of the game, looking for our shots. Obviously that got better as the game went on.''

Abilene Christian had four players who entered the game averaging double figures in scoring. Lexi Kirgan, not part of that quartet, had a team-high 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting for the Wildcats, who shot only 25 percent (15 of 61) and were outrebounded 61-25.

''Our team has overcome a lot of odds and exceeded expectations of everyone outside of our locker room,'' ACU coach Julie Goodenough said. ''I thought they played pretty fearless today. We were overmatched in a lot of positions. There was a huge size disadvantage. I don't know what else we could have done.''

BIG PICTURE

Abilene Christian: The Wildcats were inexperienced on this stage and definitely undersized. ACU's starting posts Makayla Mabry and Lexie Ducat are both 6-1. They were a combined 2-of-9 shooting with six rebounds. ... The Wildcats, whose Texas campus is about a three-hour drive from Waco, had a nice contingency of fans cheering their team until the final buzzer.

Baylor: The Lady Bears did what they were supposed to do, with an overwhelming first-round victory at home. Brown had her third double-double in her last four NCAA Tournament games.

IMPRESSIVE NUMBERS

Baylor's 61 rebounds were a school record for an NCAA Tournament. The Lady Bears also hit nine 3-pointers, tying another school record in their first game in 12 days. They are 45-15 (.750 winning percentage) in NCAA Tournament. Three more runs of at least 10 points in a row gave them 32 for this season.

''You get nervous when you're off that long a period of time, or you're going to come out rusty,'' Mulkey said. ''I didn't think we came out rusty.''

UP NEXT

Baylor, playing the Greensboro Regional, will be looking for its 11th straight trip to the Sweet 16 when the Lady Bears are home again Monday night to play California, which beat North Carolina 92-72 in the earlier game at Waco on Saturday.

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