WACO, Texas (AP) — No. 2 Baylor will be able to get by just fine for now while letting preseason AP All-America post Lauren Cox rest and recover from a foot issue.
Te’a Cooper had 23 points and 10 assists, Queen Egbo scored a career-high 21 points starting in place of Cox and the Lady Bears beat Houston Baptist 112-42 on Thursday night for their 32nd victory in row. The defending national champions have won their first three games this season by an average margin of nearly 71 points.
“We’ll rest her as long as we can rest her,” coach Kim Mulkey said of Cox. “At the end of the day, nonconference means nothing. We’re shooting for a conference championship. We’re shooting for NCAA Tournament play.”
Cox had double-doubles in the first two games, but Mulkey noticed the 6-foot-4 senior — who previously had surgery for tendinitis — was “kind of limping and walking funny for a split second.” Cox said she was OK, but an MRI showed a stress reaction in the second metatarsal on her right foot.
Now Cox’s foot is in a protective boot and she used a scooter to help her get around at the game.
“When we knew yesterday she was out, it was like, ‘Well, they have a roster filled with All-Americans.’ … They keep coming off the bench,” Houston Baptist coach Donna Finnie said. “So it doesn’t really matter who you face, you’re going to be in for that additional length and athleticism that we’re not used to seeing.”
Lauren Calver had 11 points for Houston Baptist (2-1), which shot 26% overall (15 of 58) and 2 of 21 on 3-pointers.
NaLyssa Smith added 16 points for Baylor, and 6-6 graduate transfer Erin Degrate had 14.
Egbo, a 6-3 sophomore center who said she looks up to Cox, had 17 of her points after halftime and finished 9 of 13 shooting overall in 22 minutes. She played in 35 games as a freshman last season, averaging 5.4 points and 4.2 rebounds.
“In the second half, I was more loose and I knew what to expect at the time, and I knew just run the floor and let the game come to you,” Egbo said. “I think in the first half, I was just over-thinking and like coach said trying too hard.”
QUICK AND ONLY LEAD
Houston Baptist led 2-0 when Megan Valdez-Crader hit the first shot of the game only 9 seconds after the opening tip. Cooper’s 3-pointer was the first of her seven points as Baylor then scored 13 consecutive points in just over 2 minutes.
Houston Baptist: The Huskies were on the opposite side of a lopsided game after winning their first two games by 23 and 29 points. Houston Baptist had 10 personal fouls in the first 8 minutes, and six more before halftime, and Baylor made 14 of 17 free throws.
“We weren’t used to that speed and athleticism. We don’t face that, ever,” Finnie said. “The girls just adjusting to the pace that they were having to play at and reach in a little too much gave them way too many free throws.”
Baylor: The Lady Bears won their 52nd consecutive home game against nonconference opponents since a loss to UConn in January 2014. … Baylor shot 60% from the field (44 of 74) with 29 assists. All 10 players who got in the game scored.
Houston Baptist will be across town Sunday to play at Houston, the second of four consecutive away games for the Huskies.
Baylor plays the fourth of five consecutive home games Tuesday against South Florida.
More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/Womensbasketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25