Western Kentucky got within four points of the 2nd-seeded Baylor Lady Bears, but could not get any closer as the Lady Bears advanced to play the Cal Golden Bears on Monday night.
Freshman Nina Davis scored 24 points in the first half as the Baylor Lady Bears survived a real scare from the 15th-seeded Western Kentucky Lady Toppers 87-74. It’s the 11th consecutive year that Baylor has won a first round game in the NCAA Tournament.
Davis finished with 32 points, a career high, and grabbed 10 rebounds. Davis was also 10-of-16 from the free throw line.
Those 10 rebounds for Davis puts her atop the All-Time Baylor rebounding record as a freshman. She surpassed Britney Griner’s 297 rebounds.
Odyssey Sims also added in 31 points on 11-of-20 shooting. She had five boards and three assists.
It’s the first time Baylor had two 30-point scorers since Danielle Cockrom (36) and Sheila Lambert, All-American, (30) did it against Missouri on February 18, 2001.
Western Kentucky grabbed their last lead off a Bianca McGee three-pointer at 28-27 with 6:43 remaining left in the first half. Immediately Davis went down low, hit the lay up off the glass and was fouled. It was the start of an 9-2 run that put the Lady Bears back into the lead.
Junior, Chastity Gooch, led the Lady Toppers with 23 points and nine rebounds. It’s the 21st time this season she’s led them in scoring and the 23rd time she’s led them in rebounding. Freshman sensation, Kendall Noble added in 21 points on 7-of-14 shooting, and almost had a triple-double. She finished with eight rebounds and seven assists.
McGee also contributed in 18 points, including 4-of-8 from three-point range.
You usually see, teams come into the Ferrell Center and lose before they even step on this court, but now Western Kentucky. The Sun Belt Conference champions continuously found a way to stymie what Baylor was able to do throughout the game.
Baylor pushed it out to a 9-point lead at 54-45 with 17:45 in the second half. Western Kentucky used a swift 8-3 advantage to cut it a 4-point Baylor lead. Teams would trade buckets for a good portion of the second half.
The last gasp of the Lady Toppers came with 6:32 remaining. Micah Jones hit her one and only shot of the contest, a WKU money ball. Western Kentucky had cut the Baylor lead to 70-65.
Baylor would not let the Lady Toppers any closer.
In the final six minutes of the game, the Lady Bears let their talent finally take over and they outscore Western Kentucky 17-9. Khadijiah Cave scored all six of her points in the final 4:39 of the contest.
Niya Johnson finished with six points on 2-of-7 shooting. Iesha Small had four points. Senior Mackenzie Roberston chipped in five points and Sune Agbuke with three points.
Normally, Kim Mulkey would lead the Baylor charge, but she served a one game suspension that was handed down after an incident in the Sweet 16 loss to Louisville last season. Assistant coach Bill Brock stepped in her place, leading the Lady Bears to the victory.
With not very much length, Western Kentucky was at the mercy of the Baylor forwards. Baylor out rebounded the Lady Toppers 43-24 and 15-5 on the offensive glass. Those offensive rebounds contributed to 16 second chance points for Baylor
Baylor’s 87 points scored tonight is the most points Western Kentucky has allowed in the last two season. The 24 assists were also the most Western Kentucky has allowed this season.
Baylor will now play the California Golden Bears on Monday night, at the Ferrell Center. Tip off is scheduled at 8 p.m. You can catch the game on a handful of the ESPN network channels.