WACO, Texas (AP) — Lauren Cox and No. 2 Baylor pulled away from TCU after halftime. The Lady Bears are also starting to pull away in the Big 12 race in pursuit of a 10th consecutive conference title.
Cox scored 10 of her 16 points in the third quarter, and like NaLyssa Smith finished with a double-double, as the Lady Bears beat TCU 81-62 on Wednesday night for their 52nd consecutive Big 12 victory.
Baylor (22-1, 11-0 Big 12) now has a three-game lead over second-place TCU (17-5, 8-3) in the conference standings with seven to go after beating the Frogs for the second time in three weeks.
“This game was important, they’re all important,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “But what it did was it gave you a little separation.”
The Lady Bears had only a two-point at halftime before outscoring TCU 22-11 in the third quarter, when Cox had 10 points in just over 7 1/2 minutes and also had three of her five blocked shots.
“Yeah, my jump shot isn’t falling right now. So, if you can’t hit the outside shot, you’ve got to get to the rim, get a little closer,” said Cox, who was 4-for-4 in the third quarter and 7-of-11 overall.
Cox finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists. Smith, who missed the game at TCU because of a high ankle sprain, had 12 points and 13 rebounds.
DiDi Richards had 17 points, nine over her season average, as Baylor shot 53% (30 of 57) from the field and won its nation’s-best 53rd consecutive home game. Qeen Egbo had 15 points and Moon Ursin 11.
Michelle Berry had 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting, including all three 3-pointers for the Frogs. Lauren Heard had 14 points and Jayde Woods 11.
TCU made only 3 of 14 shots from the field in the third quarter, and shot 35% overall (20 of 58). The Frogs are the only Big 12 team to finish within single digits of the Lady Bears.
“We weren’t at our best selves in the first half, but we were able to keep it tight and keep it close. We were able to rely on some things defensively that helped us,” TCU coach Raegan Pebley said. “The second half, especially the third quarter, Baylor dialed up their defense and I don’t think we responded well. We gave up too many high-percentage shots to them.”
After all of her points in the third quarter, Cox also had an assist on a 3-pointer by Te’a Cooper. That was the only basket for Cooper, who finished 1-of-7 shooting and more than 11 points below her season scoring average.
ON THE ROAD
TCU was 5-0 in Big 12 road games before losing in Waco. That leaves the Lady Bears as the only team undefeated in Big 12 road games (5-0).
TCU: The Frogs lost to Baylor for the 29th game in a row since February 1990, and are 0-17 against coach Kim Mulkey. Their lowest-scoring Big 12 games this season are both against Baylor, including the 66-57 loss at home.
Baylor: Mulkey, who is in her 20th season, has a career record of 598-100. The Lady Bears only need to win two of their next five games to make Mulkey the fastest coach in Division I history (men or women) to reach 600 career wins.
TCU plays three of its next four games at home, starting Sunday against Iowa State, a team the Frogs beat 77-74 earlier this season.
Baylor plays its next two games on the road. The Lady Bears play Saturday at Oklahoma State, who they beat 94-48 last month.
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