Estero, FL -- The No. 5 Baylor Lady Bears will advance to the championship game of the Gulf Coast Showcase after a 104-72 win over the No. 18 DePaul Blue Demons in Game 5 on Saturday night at Germain Arena. The Lady Bears will look to take the Showcase title against the winner of tonight’s 7:30 pm match-up between No. 8 Ohio State and No. 11 Syracuse.
“When you start out you’re both excited, everybody wants to do good,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said. “I was extremely proud of Alexis Prince.”
The game tipped off hot, as both teams connected with the basket in the first minute of play. A quick jumper by senior guard Jessica January got DePaul on the board and a nice move inside by Beatrice Mompremier opened the scoring for Baylor. The entire quarter was closely contested, and nearly every time fans checked the scoreboard the game was tied.
The Lady Bears hit 3-of-6 from beyond the arc, compared to the Blue Demons 2-of-7 to get a slight lead. Baylor outrebounded DePaul 14-7 in the first 10 minutes of play, and both teams kept their opponents off the free throw line with disciplined defense. The Lady Bears went on an 8-0 run over the last three minutes, as they held the Blue Demons scoreless en route to a 19-14 lead after the first quarter.
“Because they shoot so many threes at all positions I thought it would be a challenge for our post players, and it was,” Mulkey said. “It’s hard to guard the three ball when you’re 6’7, 6’5, 6’4, and we did okay.”
Baylor junior forward Dekeiya Cohen hit a quick jumper to open the second period with a spark, and the Lady Bears kept control for the remainder of the half. DePaul committed three turnovers while going scoreless for three minutes, and two quick three-pointers from senior guards Alexis Jones and Prince gave Baylor a 27-18 lead five minutes in.
The Blue Demons became visibly frustrated in the last two minutes after missing two easy layups, and every time DePaul did connect, Baylor had a response. The Blue Demons committed a total of eight turnovers in the quarter, and Prince led the Lady Bears to a 37-26 lead at the half with 10 points and one rebound. DePaul senior forward Jacqui Grant led all scorers with 11 points.
Baylor also locked down defensively on DePaul’s January who typically leads the Blue Demons in scoring.
“Our two guards, when they play like that it makes the game so much easier for all of us,” Prince said. “And when we’re playing like that I feel like its going to be hard to stop us.”
Mompremier went coast to coast on Baylor’s first possession of the half, propelling a 13-0 run for the Lady Bears, with seven of those points coming from senior forward Nina Davis. DePaul didn’t get their first points of the half until four minutes in, with a three-pointer by senior guard Brooke Schulte.
Grant found herself in foul trouble, and the Lady Bears got themselves to the free throw line for the first time in the game, and hit 10-of-13 in the quarter.
Heading into the final 10 minutes of play, Baylor had outrebounded DePaul 41-19, and grabbed 42 points in the paint, compared to the Blue Demons 10. A 77 percent shooting efficiency on the quarter allowed the Lady Bears to take a 76-43 lead into the final period, and Prince led all scorers with 15 points, five rebounds, and two assists.
“Everybody was finding me,” Prince said. “I was just trying to contribute any was that I can to help my team.”
The game remained in Baylor’s hands throughout the fourth quarter, as they nearly reached a 30-point lead. DePaul continued to fight, going on a 9-0 run with four minutes to play, however, the Blue Demons couldn’t fly past the tough Lady Bears.
Baylor held DePaul scoreless for the final four minutes of the game, securing a 104-72 victory to advance in the Showcase. The Lady Bears finished shooting 60 percent from the field and 54 percent from the three-point range. Prince led all scorers with 19 points, eight rebounds, and two assists.
“The second half we shot it extremely well, we executed, didn’t turn the ball over,” Mulkey said. “At the end of all the trapping and pressing we just got layup after layup which is good to see. So now we play for a championship tomorrow and maybe it will be more of a conventional matchup with post players that stay inside more.”
The Lady Bears will advance to the Gulf Coast Showcase Championship game tomorrow at 7:30 pm against the winner of tonight’s matchup between Ohio State and Syracuse.
“I feel like that’s going to be another tough game for us,” Prince said. “So we’re gonna watch them this game to see what we have and be ready for them.”