Baylor’s Alexis Jones received a lengthy hug from coach Kim Mulkey when she came out with less than a minute left and the game in hand.
The Irving MacArthur graduate returned home, and with the help of Nina Davis’ 30 points, the Lady Bears defeated Florida State 78-58 on Saturday to advance to their third consecutive Elite Eight at American Airlines Center.
Baylor (36-1) will play Oregon State (31-4) at 8 p.m. Monday. The Beavers will be making their first Elite Eight appearance after beating DePaul 83-71 Saturday.
After a second consecutive turnover led to a 3-pointer by Maria Conde, Mulkey decided to call a timeout with her team trailing 12-9 in the first quarter.
“We were sloppy. You just kind of call a timeout to change the momentum and just settle down,” Mulkey said.
With 4:23 left in the first quarter, it was apparent that Mulkey’s message was heard as Baylor finished period with a 15-3 run, capped by a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Jones.
“We really weren’t playing good defense. We were letting them get out in transition,” Davis said. “They were getting anything they wanted. So we needed a timeout to regroup and remember why we were here and what was on the line.”
Baylor’s run flowed over into the second quarter with the Lady Bears going up 31-18 with 6:18 left.
The Seminoles (25-8) got it to 10 at the 3:28 mark, but missed their final seven shot attempts and committed four turnovers, which allowed Baylor to have its biggest lead of game, 40-24 at the break.
“We’re a great team when we can fight and when things don’t go well this year, that’s where we’ve lost our fight,” Florida State coach Sue Semrau said.
And fight the Seminoles did.
Trailing 48-31 with seven minutes in the third, Florida State responded with an 11-2 run to get within eight with 3:47 left.
“We just tried to blow the wind back into them, that anything can happen and let’s go and let’s be who we are and I think they really did that,” Semrau said.
But Baylor answered with Davis scoring 11 of her season-high-tying 30 points in the third quarter. The Lady Bears led 58-44 after three.
Davis finished with her second consecutive 30-point game and seventh of her career. She was 12 of 18 from the field and added five rebounds.
“I owe all the credit to my teammates. When I’m hot, they do a good job with passing the ball and putting me into a position to score,” she said.
Jones added 15 points, 11 in the first half, and nine rebounds and four assists.
“Nina was out there doing all the work. They didn’t need me,” Jones said. “I did what I needed to do. When they need me to score, I score, and when they don’t, I’m here to do other things.”