SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Reigning women’s national champion Baylor is going to its 12th consecutive NCAA Sweet 16, and the Lady Bears were quite defensive getting there.
Moon Ursin and DiJonai Carrington both had 21 points, the second-seeded Lady Bears stretched their lead to double digits with All-American forward NaLyssa Smith on the bench after early foul trouble and, most impressive to coach Kim Mulkey, they overwhelmed Virginia Tech and its high-scoring duo with their defense in 90-48 victory Tuesday night.
“I’ve been doing this 36 years. That was as impressive a performance defensively from start to finish that I’ve been a part of,” said Mulkey, who has won three national titles in her 21 seasons at Baylor. “I hate to even see that because sometimes we forget as coaches, but good golly our kids were ready to play defensively.”
Queen Egbo had 12 points and 13 rebounds, along with seven blocked shots for the Lady Bears (27-2). DiDi Richards had nine assists without a turnover while playing 35 minutes.
Smith finished with 15 points, all but two of those coming after halftime. Smith got her second foul only seven minutes into the game, and didn’t return until getting two quick layups after the break.
“Everybody knows NaLyssa Smith is our All-American. But as you saw today, we’ve got more than NaLyssa Smith,” Mulkey said.
“We know how to play with any five players on the floor,” Carrington said.
Georgia Amoore had 18 points with four 3-pointers to lead seventh-seed Virginia Tech (15-10), which had opened its first NCAA Tournament since 2006 with a win over Marquette.
But the Hokies and their duo of Aisha Sheppard and center Elizabeth Kitley — ranked second and third in the ACC, both averaging just over 18 points a game — struggled against the Lady Bears, the national leader in field goal percentage defense for the fourth season in a row.
“We weren’t built for a game like this. We didn’t have enough subs,” Virginia Tech coach Kenny Brooks said. “Liz Kitley had to play 40 minutes. We couldn’t rotate any post players. We have help on the way.”
The Hokies were down 27-14 when Sheppard finally scored her first points on a 3-pointer with 6:19 left in the first half. It was another 2 1/2 minutes before Kitley made a basket. Sheppard finished with 15 points and Kitley had six points, along with six rebounds, but the center Kitley was only 2-of-12 shooting, with Egbo blocking four of her shots before halftime.
“Queen Egbo was a beast out there,” Mulkey said.
The Hokies shot 30% (16 of 53), got outrebounded 53-23 and had 13 shots blocked. They were outscored 46-4 in the paint, and 26-3 on second-chance points.
“We knew how good they were. Once we saw the matchup, this is probably the worst matchup we could’ve had,” Brooks said. “Just the way they play, their experience, their physicality. Everything they were, we weren’t.”
Ursin was coming off a career-high 24 points in Baylor’s tournament-opening 101-52 win over Jackson State at the Alamodome, where the rest of the games will be played. … Baylor never trailed after scoring the game’s first seven points in the first two minutes. The Lady Bears shot 50% from the field (35 of 70).
BICKLE’S EXTRA TIME
After Smith got her second foul with 2:49 left in the first quarter, Caitlin Bickle played until almost the end of the half. Bickle made two 3-pointers from the top of the key. Bickle also drew two charges before the break, and played 13 minutes in the first half — she came into the game averaging only 14.6 minutes per game. She didn’t play after halftime.
Baylor plays River Walk Region No. 6 seed Michigan in the Sweet 16 this weekend. The Wolverines are in their first regional semifinals after a 70-55 win over third-seeded Tennessee on Tuesday.
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