WACO, Texas — Northwestern State coach Brooke Stoehr knows most people will only see the lopsided final score.
Stoehr saw much more in her Lady Demons in Friday’s 77-36 loss to Big 12 champion Baylor in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament.
“You have to look at terms in how they competed in each possession. They didn’t put their head down,” Stoehr said. “I’m very proud of that.”
A day after the No. 3 seed Baylor men were upset by Georgia State, the Lady Bears (31-3) never provided any opportunity for an upset by Southland Conference tournament champion and No. 15 seed Northwestern State.
The Big 12 champion Lady Bears (31-3), the No. 2 seed in the Oklahoma City regional, went ahead to stay with an early 14-2 run in which Nina Davis and Khadijah Cave each had six points to break a 7-7 tie.
“There’s so many upsets all over, men and women, that have already happened, and we just don’t want that to be us,” said Davis, the Big 12 player of the year who had 17 points in 23 minutes.
Alexis Prince had 14 points for Baylor, including a 3-pointer to cap a 15-3 run after halftime to go up 60-29.
Janelle Perez, a 5-foot-2 guard, had 10 points for Northwestern State (19-15), whose coach, like Baylor’s Kim Mulkey, was a Final Four point guard at Louisiana Tech.
“I’m used to everybody being bigger. Obviously, they’re a lot bigger than what we’re used to,” said Perez, who finished 4-of-15 shooting, 2-of-11 on 3-pointers. “Their length was a factor.”
Cave finished with 12 points, and Kristy Wallace had 11 rebounds while playing a team-high 27 minutes. All 11 Baylor players got in for at least 11 minutes — and all scored.
“Obviously a very difficult opponent for us today to match up size-wise. I’m extremely proud of our group and our team and the way they competed. They weren’t afraid,” Stoehr said. “It says a lot about the character they have and who they are. Baylor’s size and athleticism obviously affected some of our shots today. It’s just something you can’t simulate.”
After playing for Leon Barmore at Louisiana Tech, Mulkey was an associate head coach for the legendary coach and recruited Stoehr to play there. Mulkey was there for the younger guard’s first two seasons before leaving in 2000 for Baylor.
“This game is kind of difficult for me because Brooke’s on that other sideline, and I knew that what she had, and I knew that maybe they were outmatched a little bit, height, size, talent,” Mulkey said. “But her team never stopped playing hard. She’s got her team playing hard.”