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Lady Bears Down Emporia State. AP Ranks Lady Bears No. 2 in Pre-Season Poll

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Lady Bears Continue to Shine as Freshmen Trio Has a Good Day.

NCAA Womens Basketball: McNeese State at Baylor
Baylor Head Coach Kim Mulkey
Erich Schlegel-USA TODAY Sports

Lady Bears

Highlights vs Emporia State
  • Kim Mulkey says Baylor's freshman trio are "going to have good days and bad days." Tuesday was a good day for 6-4 freshman forward Lauren Cox, who had a team-high 17 points in the second-ranked Lady Bears' 89-60 win over Emporia State in the exhibition opener before a Ferrell Center crowd of 5,165. From Baylor Bear Foundation’s Jerry Hill.

"We've been banging around with each other at practice, and it felt good just to play another team," Cox said. "The atmosphere was really great. I've never played in front of that many people before, so that was a lot of fun."

Cox gave them something to cheer for in the fourth quarter when she grabbed a defensive rebound and took it all the way in for a breakaway layup to cap off a 20-point run that stretched a nine-point lead out to 84-55.

"Nobody was in front of me, so I just took off" said Cox, the nation's top-rated recruit out of Flower Mound, Texas. "If somebody was going to try to stop me, I was either going to pass it off or just keep going."

The visiting Lady Hornets, ranked No. 3 nationally in the Division II preseason poll, certainly tested the Lady Bears in the exhibition opener. They used a 10-0 run in the last 41 seconds of the second quarter to pull within eight at the break and whittled it to a two-point game, 45-43, two minutes into the third.

Mulkey took the blame for the run at the end of the first half, "because of substitutions, because of things I did as a coach."

But, the takeaway was that the Lady Bears have to take care of the ball - Emporia State scored 18 points off their 19 turnovers - and defend better on the perimeter. The Lady Hornets knocked down 11-of-30 from 3-point range, and guard Kelly Moten was able to drive in for layups against guards Alexis Jones and Kristy Wallace.

"We've got to get better off the dribble on the perimeter," Mulkey said. "We have to continue to get better at communicating when a post sets a screen. That is a very difficult offense for big girls to defend. And I thought the big girls did OK. But, we've got enough perimeter players that we've got to keep them from penetrating so much."

Baylor's post play was simply too much for Emporia State to handle. The Lady Bears outscored the Lady Hornets, 58-16, on points in the paint and dominated the boards, 40-20. Beatrice Mompremier added 15 points and two blocks, while senior point guard Alexis Jones had 12 points, seven assists and four rebounds.

Mompremier said the message at halftime, when Baylor let Emporia State whittle an 18-point lead down to eight, was "just to come out and play harder. We wanted to defend the ball and rebound."

The Lady Bears were able to stretch the lead back in the fourth quarter, going on that 20-0 run that put it away for good. Baylor was 7-for-10 from 3-point range, getting two apiece from Wallace, Jones and Alexis Prince and one from freshman Natalie Chou.

"I told you, they can shoot it," Mulkey said. "With the exception of maybe two that are truly just point guards that are young and in the program, there's not a perimeter player that would hesitate to shoot it. They can shoot it."

Senior All-American forward Nina Davis played only 21 minutes, finishing with seven points, two rebounds, one assist and a pair of steals. Addie Lackey hit three 3-pointers and matched Cox with 17 points, while returning All-American guard Kelly Moten had 13 pointsm eight assists and five steals with seven turnovers.

Before opening the regular season with a matchup next Friday against Houston Baptist, Baylor will have one more tune-up against Langston University at 7 p.m. Monday.

"We're not playing anybody in exhibitions that can't play," Mulkey said. "Cheryl Miller was actually coaching (Langston) when I agreed to this game and she had those guys deep in the playoffs. Elaine Powell is coaching them now. And I know her well. I recruited her when I was at Louisiana Tech and she ended up at LSU. They will play good as well. Two good programs in the exhibition games."

Two-time All-American forward Nina Davis and honorable mention All-American guard Alexis Jones lead the Lady Bears heading into the season. Both were named to the Preseason All-Big 12 first team, while Davis was tabbed Preseason Big 12 Player of the Year. Sophomore post Kalani Brown was also Preseason All-Big 12 honorable mention selection. Freshman Lauren Cox, the 2016 WBCA High School Player of the Year, was selected Preseason Big 12 Freshman of the Year.

  • The Baylor Lady Bears were recognized as the No. 2 team in the country by the Associated Press Tuesday. In its first installment of its weekly poll, the publication announced Baylor as preseason No. 2, four points behind No. 1 Notre Dame. From Baylor Bears dot com.

“Being preseason No. 2 in the country brings great recognition to our school and our program, we welcome it,” 17th-year Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “We have a schedule, nonconference and conference, that will be most challenging early in the season. It's one that I think will help us late in the season."

The top recruiting class in the country bolster a Lady Bears roster with 10 returners from last year’s 36-2 squad. Baylor played its way to its sixth consecutive Big 12 regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the Elite Eight.

Associated Press Preseason Poll: 1. Notre Dame – 793; 2. Baylor – 789; 3. Connecticut – 743; 4. South Carolina – 719; 5. Louisville – 718; 6. Maryland – 635; 7. Ohio State – 632 8. Texas – 604; 9. UCLA – 557; 10. Mississippi State – 516; 11. Stanford – 471; 12. Florida State – 437; 13. Tennessee – 415; T14. Miami (FL) – 328; T14. Syracuse – 328; 16. Oklahoma – 285; 17. Washington – 259; 18. Arizona State – 244; 19. Kentucky – 228 20. Florida – 181; 21. DePaul – 160; 22. West Virginia – 154; 23. Indiana – 108; 24. Missouri – 98; 25. Oregon State – 95.