WACO, Texas (AP) — No. 8 Baylor could have easily overlooked Texas-Rio Grande Valley with a looming showdown against top-ranked Connecticut.
The Lady Bears, playing for the first time since losing their last game two weeks ago, made it clear within the first few minutes of their New Year’s Eve matinee that wasn’t going to happen.
Lauren Cox scored 17 points to lead seven players in double figures in a 98-37 win over Texas-Rio Grande Valley on Monday, three days before UConn comes to town. The Lady Bears matched a school record with 75 rebounds.
“I don’t know what their scouting report was, but they wanted to send three or even four players when we caught it in the post,” Cox said. “They left us wide open, and we were knocking down those shots.”
Baylor (9-1) hadn’t played since a 68-63 loss Dec. 15 at No. 6 Stanford, but showed no ill effects from the time off as it shot 63 percent in the first quarter to race out to a 31-6 lead.
Coach Kim Mulkey wasn’t pleased with Baylor shooting less than 35 percent in the second half, but wasn’t sure whether to attribute that to fatigue or the constant mixing of lineups. She was happy with the Lady Bears’ rebounding, effort and point guards Chloe Jackson and DiDi Richards each having nine assists with one combined turnover.
“Obviously we put an emphasis on rebounding, both offensively and defensively,” Mulkey said. “That’s a mindset. That’s an aggressiveness that you don’t sit there and expect every shot to go in. You go in there thinking it’s not going in, and I’m going to get the next shot. It showed up today in the stat sheet.”
Queen Egbo had 15 points and 13 rebounds for Baylor, which got 13 points from Kalani Brown and 12 from NaLyssa Smith. Juicy Landrum, Caitlin Bickle and Jackson had 10 points each.
Quynne Huggins had 15 points for Texas-Rio Grande Valley (6-7), which didn’t get a field goal from anyone else until Idil Turk made a 3-pointer with 4½ minutes left in the first half. The Vaqueros shot 17 percent (10 of 59) overall from the field, while shooting 21 percent (8 of 38) on 3-pointers.
“The size is just so much different,” Rio Grande Valley coach Lane Lord said. “They were awesome on the offensive glass. We tried to double and triple the post, they’d kick it out to Lauren and she’d knock down a 3 or vice versa and Brown was hitting (shots). There was nothing we could do.”
Texas-Rio Grande Valley: The Vaqueros had been relatively competitive in back-to-back home losses against No. 13 Texas (81-66) and at No. 21 Texas A&M (84-61), but they were never in this one. They were outscored in the paint 52-4 and outrebounded 75-26. They don’t have a player on their roster listed at taller than 6-foot, and that lack of size was a clear disadvantage.
Baylor: This was the type of game Baylor needed after its layoff because it provided playing time for its entire roster ahead of Thursday night’s meeting with UConn. Eleven Lady Bears scored, and nobody played more than 27 minutes. Baylor blocked 10 shots and had 28 assists and 16 steals.
Texas-Rio Grande Valley will return home to open WAC play against California Baptist on Saturday.
Baylor wraps up nonconference play by hosting No. 1 UConn on Thursday.
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