WACO (AP) – Even without scoring, Kalani Brown set the tone for No. 3 Baylor on its first offensive possession of the game.
Brown pulled down two offensive rebounds on that trip, scored the next time down and dominated the rest of the night. She finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds as the Lady Bears cruised past Kansas State 87-57 on Thursday to open Big 12 Conference play.
“I was just going to the offensive boards and being aggressive on both ends of the floor,” Brown said. “Coming off the (14-day) layoff, I wanted to show I wasn’t out of shape.”
The Lady Bears (12-1) outrebounded Kansas State 56-28 and turned that into a 25-5 edge in second-chance points. Baylor also outscored the Wildcats 31-10 off the bench.
Brown had four blocks, Alexis Prince and Nina Davis both added 14 points and Lauren Cox scored 12 for Baylor.
Alexis Jones, the Lady Bears’ leading scorer who missed the previous two games to rest, tied Kristy Wallace for the team lead in assists with eight.
“I thought our post players were dominant, all of them,” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey said. “I thought Jones and Kristy Wallace were very unselfish and just got the ball to them. I was concerned with the layoff, being slow and lethargic. And we certainly weren’t at our best, but we have enough depth to get them, get them out.”
Kindred Wesemann led Kansas State (10-3, 0-1) with 16 points. Breanna Lewis had 14 points and a team-high seven rebounds. Karyla Middlebrook scored 13 before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
No other Wildcats player scored more than three points, and Kansas State shot 29.8 percent for the game.
“(Baylor’s) physicality, the size, is a problem for most people,” Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie said. “Tonight for our big (Lewis), who I think is pretty good, it was a problem for her. She got anxious early against Brown. She had some travels early, but she played better in the second half. I think their depth is the best I’ve seen it certainly in the last four years.”
Baylor broke open a close game with a 13-2 run over the final 4:20 of the first quarter and was never challenged again.
Kansas State: It was a tough assignment to start conference play for Kansas State. Baylor has won 49 straight at the Ferrell Center and 175 in a row against unranked opponents at home. The Wildcats have some size inside in the 6-foot-5 Lewis, but they couldn’t find anybody who could move the 6-7 Brown off the block.
Baylor: The Lady Bears hadn’t played since a record-setting 140-32 blowout of Winthrop two weeks ago, but they showed no ill effects from the layoff. Baylor has won six straight Big 12 regular-season and tournament championships, and this was a statement against a solid team that the Lady Bears are not ready to give up the crown.
Baylor: Unless voters value No. 4 Maryland’s close 87-81 loss to No. 1 UConn more, Baylor should move up a spot. That’s because No. 2 Notre Dame dropped its ACC opener to unranked N.C. State 70-62 on Thursday.
Kansas State will get a second shot at taking down a ranked Big 12 foe on the road when it meets No. 12 West Virginia on Sunday before opening home conference action against Texas Tech on Wednesday.
Baylor will remain at home to host Kansas on Sunday, then hit the road to play West Virginia on Wednesday.
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