By STEPHEN HAWKINS, AP Basketball Writer
WACO, Texas (AP) — Another double-double for big post Lauren Cox, a standout game on both ends of the court for Juicy Landrum and a 10th straight trip to the NCAA Sweet 16 for Baylor.
Cox had 18 points with 16 rebounds, Landrum had 17 points while helping finally stifle Michigan’s career scoring leader, and the Lady Bears pulled away in an 80-58 win over the Wolverines on Sunday night.
“This team has gone through a lot of adversity this year and we’ve fought through all of it and we’ve stayed together,” said Cox, the 6-foot-4 sophomore post who had her fourth straight double-double. “So getting to the Sweet 16 is really important for us.”
The Big 12 champion Lady Bears (33-1 finally put Michigan away by scoring 13 consecutive points in the third quarter, going up 57-41 on a driving layup by Kalani Brown that capped the 4 1/2-minute spurt.
Hallie Thome had 22 points, her fourth straight 20-point game for Michigan (23-10) while Katelynn Flaherty, the career scoring leader, had 18 points on six 3-pointers in her last college game. They combined 30 of Michigan’s 34 first-half points, but had only 10 the rest of the game.
“That kid (Landrum) is coming off screens guarding Flaherty. She’s just a hard kid to guard,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “Juicy was tremendous today. She hit big 3s, and took the ball to the rim, and I just thought her defense on that kid, especially in the second half, was big.”
All five of Baylor starters scored in double figures, but only six players got in the game until Mulkey cleared the bench with 11.8 seconds left in the game.
Freshman Alexis Morris also had 17 points for Baylor. Brown, the 6-7 junior who was the Big 12 Player of the year, had 16 points and with eight rebounds. Dekeiya Cohen had 12 points.
There were four ties and four lead changes before Baylor went ahead to stay on the fifth, a layup by Cox that made it 20-19 at the end of the first quarter. That was during a stretch of eight straight points Cox scored for Baylor, including three straight layups in the first quarter before a short bank shot started the second.
The Wolverines were within 44-41 when Thome made a layup with 7:10 left in the third quarter. They didn’t score again until Flaherty’s 3-pointer with 1:53 left.
“They wore us down for sure. No question about it. I thought we battled and kind of hung tough and really fought, and we tried to rebound in the first half and they really wore us down physically,” Michigan coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “Even Katelynn said, I was getting bumped and pushed a number of times where I would probably get foul calls that I didn’t get foul calls.”
Michigan: After three straight WNIT appearances, including an MVP performance as the Wolverines won that championship last year, Flaherty got her only NCAA experience. She had 20 in their win over Northern Colorado on Friday, and leaves Michigan with 2,776 points.
“I haven’t gotten a chance to think about it this whole season when I surpassed those records and what not,” Flaherty said, eventually fighting back tears. “I’ve made the best decision coming to Michigan. I would never change that. … I love Hallie and all my teammates. I couldn’t do it without them.”
Baylor: The Lady Bears have won 14 straight NCAA Tournament games at home, and swept through first- and second-round games at the Ferrell Center for the sixth year in a row. They opened with a 96-46 win over Grambling State on Friday, when Cox had 30 points and 17 rebounds.
WANT TO GO DEEPER
The Lady Bears made it to the Elite Eight the last four seasons, but their last Final Four was during their 40-0 national championship season in 2012.
Baylor had 20 points off 12 Michigan turnovers by halftime. The Lady Bears finished with 28 points off 19 turnovers. … The Lady Bears had a 50-26 scoring advantage in the paint, and a 49-30 rebounding edge.
After making all 9 shots before halftime, Michigan’s 6-5 center Thome, was 2-of-9 after the break.
“Kalani was challenged at halftime, well, you’ve got to go up block the big girl’s shot,” Mulkey said.
The Lady Bears are headed to Lexington, Kentucky, to play No. 6 seed Oregon State (25-7) on Friday night. In the Elite Eight two years ago, Oregon State beat then top-seeded Baylor 60-57 in Dallas, only about 100 miles from the Waco campus.
© 2018, The Village Reporter and/or The Associated Press. All rights reserved.