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WACO (AP) – Nina Davis and No. 3 Baylor quickly erased any idea that West Virginia could win in Waco again.
“Last year, they got away with one,” Davis said. “That was still in the back of our heads, so we just wanted to protect our home court and continue to win. So we just came out with a sense of urgency.”
Davis scored 22 points, with two layups in the Lady Bears’ game-opening 12-0 run, as they stretched their overall winning streak to 23 games with a 79-51 victory Sunday.
Baylor (24-1, 13-0 Big 12) has won 17 in a row at home since that 71-69 loss to West Virginia last March, still its only conference home loss in five seasons.
The Mountaineers (15-10, 5-8) never got closer than nine points after that fast start by Baylor, and were down by 34 after the Lady Bears opened the second half with a 16-1 run.
“I attribute it to we’re playing on all cylinders right now,” coach Kim Mulkey said. “And late in the year, you’re usually fatigued. And I don’t sense any fatigue right now. I thought I substituted very liberally the entire game.”
All 11 players who got in the game for Baylor scored, and 10 of them had rebounds.
Dekeiya Cohen had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Lady Bears. Niya Johnson, the national assists leader at 9.4 per game, had 13 more after a Big 12 single-game record 17 assists in her last game, along with seven rebounds.
Teana Muldrow had 16 points and Bria Holmes 15 for West Virginia, which never challenged.
“We were passive. It started right off the bat,” coach Mike Carey said. “We weren’t focused. It’s a shame. Some people for us played hard, but we couldn’t score. They were just pounding us in the paint and getting layups on the other side. It’s unbelievable.”
Baylor scored 58 points in the paint, seven more than West Virginia’s total points. The Lady Bears had a 50-21 rebounding edge.
West Virginia and Baylor shared the Big 12 regular-season title last season. They also played in the conference tournament championship game that the Lady Bears won by three points.
But Baylor is well on its way to a fifth consecutive Big 12 regular-season title, the fourth outright in that stretch. With five conference games left, the Lady Bears have a three-game lead over second-place Oklahoma, who they beat 89-66 on Wednesday after an early 20-0 run.
Baylor led 49-28 at halftime Sunday, Davis had 12 points in that opening 16-1 run to start the second half. The Lady Bears led 63-29 when Alexis Prince made two free throws with 13:53 left.
“It’s just that time of the year,” Davis said. “You just have to come out and play with a sense of urgency. That’s that I’m trying to do every game.”
Cohen is a 6-foot-2 true freshman who played 18 minutes, her most since Dec. 7. “She’s so strong. She’s undersized in there, but like I said, she’s strong,” Davis said. “She can battle with the best of them. … She’s going to become great for us down the line.”
MUCH CLOSER IN MORGANTOWN
When they played at West Virginia on Jan. 10, Baylor pulled out a 66-62 victory, a tough pill for the Mountaineers. “You don’t want to lose. I would rather lose the way we lost than by two,” Carey said after Sundays’ blowout. “We lost by four at our place. That was harder than to accept than this. … At our place, we had chances, but we just gave that game way.”
West Virginia: Holmes entered the game as the Big 12’s second-leading scorer at 20 points a game, trailing only Davis at 21.4.
Baylor: Sune Agbuke had nine rebounds and three blocked shots. Two of her blocks came in the first 3 minutes before WVU had scored a point. .. The Lady Bears had 30 assists on 35 field goals. And that is two fewer assists than they had on the same number of field goals against Oklahoma.
West Virginia hosts Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
Baylor plays at Texas Tech on Wednesday.
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