GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Baylor reached the Elite Eight for the fifth time in six years with another dominant performance, leading by as many as 30 points in a 93-68 victory over South Carolina on Saturday in the Greensboro Regional semifinals.
Didi Richards scored a career-high 25 points, and Lauren Cox added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the No. 1 overall seed in the women’s NCAA Tournament. The Bears shot 52 percent to win their 26th straight game and blow out South Carolina for the second time this season.
Kalani Brown had 18 points and 10 boards, and Juicy Landrum and Chloe Jackson each finished with 12 points for the Bears (34-1).
Baylor will play second-seeded Iowa (29-6) on Monday night with the winner advancing to the Final Four.
Behind the elite front line of the 6-foot-4 Cox and the 6-7 Brown, the Bears dominated both the lane and the glass. Baylor built a 54-30 rebounding advantage, held the Gamecocks to two second-chance points and outscored them by 30 in the paint.
Te’a Cooper scored 17 points and Mikiah Herbert Harrigan added 16 for the fourth-seeded Gamecocks (23-10).
They tried to make things interesting, pulling to 64-48 on Bianca Cuevas-Moore’s free throw with 2:31 left in the third quarter. Brown hit a putback and Richards followed with consecutive layups in transition to push Baylor’s lead back into the 20s.
South Carolina: Deep tournament runs have been the norm under coach Dawn Staley. The Gamecocks won the national title in 2017 and advanced to the Final Four in 2015, the last time Greensboro hosted a regional. While they briefly clawed back into the game, they ultimately were no match for the bigger Bears — who also beat them 94-69 on Dec. 2 in Columbia.
Baylor: Nobody’s been able to really threaten the Bears through three games of this tournament. Baylor won its first two games by an average of 48 points, and then used its front line to overwhelm the Gamecocks early and turn back their third-quarter attempt to claw back in it.
Baylor faces Iowa in the Greensboro Regional final on Monday night.
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