Kalani 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 in a first-round game Saturday.
Brown, a 6-foot-7 senior center, had 10 of her points as Baylor (32-1) scored the game’s first 20 points.
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.
Lauren Cox, Baylor’s 6-4 post, had 14 points in 17 minutes and was on the bench with Brown and other starters throughout the fourth quarter. Juicy Landrum, another starter, had 14 points with three 3-pointers in 19 minutes.
Coach Kim Mulkey freely substituted during the game, with five freshmen on the court together at times and all of them playing 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.