No. 5 Baylor beats DePaul to win WNIT; Davis named MVP
WACO, Texas (AP) — Baylor coach Kim Mulkey isn’t convinced she’ll see another team like DePaul this season.
“Golly, they never stop moving on the offensive end,” Mulkey said, adding that “they never stop pressing you.”
Baylor used its size to score 60 points in the paint and the No. 5 Bears beat DePaul 86-72 for the preseason WNIT championship. Nina Davis had 20 points and 10 rebounds and was named tournament most valuable player.
Alexis Jones scored 21 points and Khadijiah Cave had 16 for Baylor (4-0).
Megan Podkowa had 19 points and Chanise Jenkins and Brooke Schulte scored 13 points each for DePaul (3-1). Ashton Millender added 10 points.
Baylor led 67-53 going into the fourth quarter before Podkowa scored three consecutive layups to lead an 8-2 run that pulled DePaul to 69-61 with 6:37 remaining. Davis responded with a 3-point play, setting off a 10-3 run that included a 3 by Wallace. Baylor led 81-64 with 3:19 to play.
Longtime DePaul coach Doug Bruno called his first timeout less than 90 seconds into the game. Baylor took an early 8-0 lead after two 3s by Jones and an offensive rebound and putback by 6-foot-7 freshman Kalani Brown, who scored most of her 10 points on easy layups over smaller defenders.
“When you extend the floor, you know there’s a chance you’re going to give up some easy baskets,” Bruno said. “We did, but we also gave up some easy baskets in some situations where I didn’t think we had to give up some easy baskets.”
Baylor led by as many as eight in the first quarter, but DePaul scored twice in the final 40 seconds — including a 3 at the buzzer by Jenkins — to cut the lead to 24-22.
Cave had a rebound and putback and then a driving layup to help Baylor open the second period on a 12-4 run to go up 36-26 with 4:29 left in the half. Johnson recorded assists on three baskets — two by Cave — in the final 1:40 of the second quarter, and Baylor led 44-35 at halftime.
Only six Baylor players scored, though Niya Johnson handed out 10 assists, and five Bears scored 10 or more points.
“We have a team that everybody can score and everybody plays good defense,” Davis said. “It’s hard to guard us. Most teams have one or two players, and you can key in on those two and if you stop them, you stop the team. But we had five in double figures.”
DePaul: The DePaul Ball style of up-tempo play had the Blue Demons averaging nearly 89 points a game this season — 18th best in the country — and forcing their opponents into 23 turnovers per game. Baylor committed 21 turnovers, but DePaul was held 17 points below its average.
Baylor: In the 2011 WNIT, Baylor won its four games by an average of 40 points. The Lady Bears went 40-0 that season and won the national title. This year, Baylor won its four games by an average of nearly 28 points, including a 66-63 win over South Florida on Thursday night.
DOMINANT AT HOME: Baylor has won 156 home games against non-ranked opponents. Its last non-ranked loss at home was a 64-63 defeat to Auburn on April 4, 2003.
ON THE ROAD: DePaul won its first three WNIT games on its home court, while Baylor — taking part in its fourth tournament — has played every preseason WNIT game on its home court, with a record of 12-2.
NO FEAR: DePaul will face four teams currently in the top 20 before January, including No. 1 Connecticut and No. 3 Notre Dame. Of that schedule, Doug Bruno said, “I really think coaches are hypocrites if they ask their kids to play fearless and then play a weak schedule. If you’re going to ask your players to be fearless, then you better be fearless with who you schedule.”
DePaul hosts Chicago State on Tuesday night.
Baylor plays Cincinnati on Thursday as part of Junkanoo Jam in Freeport, Bahamas.