The West Virginia women’s basketball team was unable to score inside or end No. 1 Baylor’s 19-game winning streak in a 63-57 loss to the Bears during Senior Night on Monday.
The Mountaineers (20-9, 11-7 Big 12) were affected by the Bears’ height all night, shooting 18 percent in the paint because of it, and struggling to contain it on defense.
“When you gotta tie three people up on one player, other people are open,” WVU head coach Mike Carey said of Baylor’s 6-foot-7 center Kalani Brown. “Anybody that demands three people is a pretty good player, a pretty good player… Give her credit, man, she demands that.”
With the win, Baylor (28-1, 18-0) extends its winning streak to 20 games, while also clinching its second straight undefeated season in conference play and the top seed in the Big 12 Tournament.
The Bears were led inside by six-foot-four forward Lauren Cox’s double-double of 22 points and 10 rebounds. Cox was the team-leader in points and rebounds, and helped Baylor to a 40-27 rebounding advantage over West Virginia.
Baylor’s height not only affected WVU on offense in its attempt to score, but the Mountaineers couldn’t defend it either, allowing the Bears to hold a 12-8 advantage in offensive rebounds and a 26-10 lead in points in the paint.
Second in rebounding for Baylor was Brown with eight rebounds, who was guarded by WVU’s Naomi Davenport and Theresa Ekhelar throughout the game.
Davenport was one of three seniors honored by West Virginia before the game, and led the team in scoring with 20 points.
Joining Davenport in double-digit scoring was Tynice Martin and Kari Niblack, while fellow senior Katrina Pardee added two points and two rebounds in the loss. Senior Theresa Ekhelar did not score against the Bears as she played only 11 minutes and collected three early fouls.
“Naomi’s been a great senior for us,” Carey said. “They’re all three graduating. They’re all three great young ladies. Very proud of them, they all three gave everything they had tonight.”
With the regular season now over, both teams will now look to the Big 12 Tournament, which begins Friday in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Baylor and West Virginia will both receive byes in the first round, with the Bears earning the one-seed after winning the Big 12 regular season championship.
The Mountaineers’ seed in the tournament is still to be decided, but West Virginia’s regular season performance and play against Baylor lead Carey to believe his team should have a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s frustrating to me that we can play the No. 1 team — nothing against Baylor, Baylor’s a great team, I think Baylor has a chance to win it all — but it’s frustrating that we take them down to the wire and we’re a bubble team with 11 wins in the conference. Shouldn’t happen.”