KANSAS CITY – No. 1 seeds rarely lose in the second round of the tournament.
The Baylor women’s basketball team showed that against Missouri on Tuesday afternoon at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, beating the Tigers 70-52.
Missouri (11-18, 4-12 Big 12 Conference) scored the first basket of the game and hung with Baylor for a few minutes. Then the Bears (24-3, 14-2) pulled away.
It happened with 14 minutes left in the first half, when Baylor went on a 9-0 run to lead 22-8. The Bears led by at least 10 for the rest of the game.
Baylor inside standouts Steffanie Blackmon and Sophia Young combined for 28 points and 18 rebounds despite playing only 52 combined minutes. Young sat out almost half of the game because of foul trouble.
Baylor wasn’t the only team focusing on points in the paint.
The Tigers shot only eight 3-pointers, and leading scorer Christelle N’Garsanet got all her field goals from within five feet of the basket. Missouri shot 36 percent from the field.
Baylor, on the other hand, shot better than 50 percent. In an anomaly reserved for teams with exceptional inside presence, the Bears’ three-point percentage (5-of-10) was higher than their free-throw percentage (7-of-17).
“I told the team after the game, ‘You better start making free throws,’” Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robinson said. “We were pretty bad from the foul line today.”
Baylor overcame poor free-throw shooting with a team effort against Missouri, possibly to rest their starters for today’s semifinal game against Texas Tech, who defeated Iowa State on Wednesday 61-59.
Baylor used 12 players, and seven played at least 20 minutes.
The loss marks the end of the season for the Tigers, who return all their starters. This includes Bond and N’Garsanet, who will be seniors.
Coach Cindy Stein said Bond provides the team with spark and she chose to leave Bond in despite four fouls late in the game.
“We’re a much better team with LaToya out there,” Stein said. “I didn’t want to hit a dry spell.”
It was too late for Missouri, who trailed by 15 with 9:38 left.
The Tigers say they’ll be ready for next season.
“We’ve faced a lot this year,” Bond said. “But we’ve just got to get used to it and work through it.”