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Lady Bears coast into tourney semifinals

Nov. 14, 2006

Associated Press
Baylor's Danielle Wilson, center, is fouled by Hofstra players as she shoots in the second half of the Bears' second game of the weekend.

Sports writer

If a strong start is the foundation for a successful season, the Lady Bears are in for a good one this year.

The No. 18 Baylor women's basketball team opened its regular season slate with two Women's National Invitational Tournament match-ups at the Ferrell Special Events Center over the weekend, winning both games and moving into the semifinal round. Baylor will play the winner of BYU-Stanford on Thursday night at the Ferrell Center. The BYU-Stanford game ended 55-52 with BYU winning.

The Lady Bears, playing host to the tournament for the second time, faced the University of North Texas in the tournament's first round Friday night and coasted to a 84-47 victory. As she would in both contests, senior forward Bernice Mosby took over and guided the Lady Bears towards the decisive win with 15 points and 14 rebounds on 7-for-12 shooting.

"I think we slowed down and got under control," head Coach Kim Mulkey said about Baylor's effort against North Texas. "On defense we did a good job keeping us in the game as the offense struggled. Overall, I think we did a great job in the open court. It's always good to get the first win of the season."

After taking a 9-point lead into halftime, the Lady Bears broke open the game with a 32-6 run to start the second half.

"Bernice brings a tremendous amount of intensity," said freshman forward Danielle Wilson, who won the Big 12 Rookie of the Week award. "When we're tired in drills or in games, she always encourages us to labor through it."

Facing a more prepared opponent Sunday in the Hofstra University Pride, the Lady Bears walked away with an 81-71 win to advance to the WNIT semifinals for the first time.

Mosby finished the game with 20 points and 17 rebounds and led the Lady Bears with double digits in both points and rebounds in the first half alone.

Mulkey was decidedly more low-key when addressing Baylor's closer call against the Pride.

"We had a very good start that I was pleased with," Mulkey said. "We played with great excitement and Bernice really led our team. As good as the first half was, the last seven minutes were that bad."

Hofstra whittled a 29-point deficit down to 10 in the second half, but clutch free throw shooting from Baylor and a near-career night from Mosby squashed Hofstra's upset bid.

"One of the main things (we need to work on) is staying focused," Mosby said. "That comes from our captains not taking control of our ballclub and saying, 'Hey, you've got to focus.' I think once we get that for the whole 40 minutes of the game we'll be fine."

It didn't take long for Baylor's touted freshman class to make its presence felt in support of Mosby and Baylor's short list of experienced players.

Forward Jessika Bradley scored 14 points against North Texas and 12 against Hofstra and guards Whitney Jones and Latara Darrett both had sizeable contributions off the bench. Serious contributions from both Wilson and Bradley, who secured a combined 23 rebounds over the two games, helped the Lady Bears blow out North Texas and withstand a late second-half push from Hofstra.

"We came out with a lot of intensity in both games," said Wilson, who dropped in 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds against Hofstra. "We tried to work as a team between going after rebounds offensively and defensively and trying to get each and every opportunity going for us."