COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Kalani Brown had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead No. 4 Baylor to a 94-69 win over No. 18 South Carolina on Sunday night.
The Gamecocks (4-4) couldn’t account for the size of the Lady Bears (7-0) and it quickly became a mismatch.
Baylor made seven of its first 10 shots to jump out to a 16-3 lead. The Lady Bears scored 32 points in the first quarter — tied for the most ever against the Gamecocks. They went inside and outside. Seven of their 10 two-point field goals were inside the paint and they were 3 of 4 on 3-pointers.
Baylor ended the first half leading 57-35, scoring the most points South Carolina has ever given up in a first half.
Chloe Jackson had 19 points and seven assists and Juicy Landrum was 3 for 4 on 3s to finish with 15 points for the Lady Bears.
Te’a Cooper led South Carolina with 16 points. Sophomore LeLe Grissett scored 11 and had 10 rebounds for her first career double-double.
This was the first meeting between Baylor and South Carolina and their coaches. Kim Mulkey of the Lady Bears and Dawn Staley of the Gamecocks are the only women to play and coach in the NCAA Women’s Final Four.
Baylor: Could this be the year the Lady Bears finally make it back to the Final Four for the first time since winning the national championship in 2012 in Brittney Griner’s junior year? Baylor’s size and hot shooting will make them hard to stop. The Lady Bears made 5 of 8 3-pointers and outscored South Carolina 52-28 in the paint. They shot 54.9 percent (39 of 71), just under their nation-leading percentage.
South Carolina: Each game makes it a little more painfully obvious that the Gamecocks are rebuilding after losing top WNBA draft pick A’ja Wilson. Baylor’s inside presence dominated South Carolina in a way rarely seen since Dawn Staley came to town 10 years ago. The Gamecocks haven’t been .500 after eight games since 2010 — Staley’s third season and the last time they missed the NCAAs.
South Carolina’s streak of 119 weeks in the AP Top 25 shouldn’t end. The Gamecocks beat Dayton earlier in the week, and voters likely won’t punish them for a blowout against the No. 4 team. Baylor seems locked in the fourth spot even with No. 1 Notre Dame’s loss to No. 2 Connecticut. Baylor has been ranked 295 weeks.
Baylor: The Lady Bears host Morehead State on Dec. 12.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks host Appalachian State on Wednesday.