Baylor makes loud statement against Iowa to reach Women's Final Four

Cox leads Baylor to the Final Four (1:08)

Lauren Cox drops 22 points on 10-of-16 shooting to lead the Baylor Lady Bears past the Iowa Hawkeyes 85-53 and into the Final Four. (1:08)

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Baylor coach Kim Mulkey made another one of her loud fashion statements for Monday night's Elite Eight showdown against Iowa, wearing a bright orange pantsuit highlighted by a neon yellow blouse and high heels.

Her top-seeded Lady Bears made an even louder statement with a dominating 85-53 victory to advance to the Final Four of the women's NCAA tournament for the first time since winning the title in 2012.

Like their coach, they did it with style, controlling every aspect of the game as they have during a winning streak that reached 27 straight.

And they sent a message with their fourth straight tournament win by at least 25 points, something only two other teams have done since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1994.

The other two teams, UConn in 2010 and 2013, went on to win national titles.

"I don't know that we sent a message," Mulkey said. "This is who we are."

Next up is Oregon, which defeated Mississippi State on Sunday to punch a ticket to Tampa, Florida.

At this point, it doesn't seem to matter whom Baylor (35-1) faces. The Lady Bears don't seem fazed by anything, with arguably the biggest and most talented starting five in the tournament.

They certainly weren't fazed by anything they saw in this regional at Greensboro Coliseum -- including Iowa center Megan Gustafson, the nation's leader in scoring (28 points per game) and field goal percentage (70 percent) during the regular season.

Gustafson had 23 points, but she finished 9-of-17 from the field and had to work harder than normal against Baylor's 6-foot-7 center Kalani Brown and 6-foot-4 forward Lauren Cox to get that.

And she didn't get much help.

"Baylor obviously was too much for us today," Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said.

Here's a scary thought: Baylor has much of the nation's No. 1 recruiting class from this past year sitting on the bench not getting nearly as much playing time as they would on another team.

The starting five was so dominant in this regional that Mulkey wasn't sure who would be voted the Most Outstanding Player until Cox's name was called.

"If you would have asked me, I couldn't take just one," Mulkey said. "Usually I can."

That's because of unheralded players such as guard DiDi Richards, who had 16 points on Monday after scoring a career-high 25 on Saturday against South Carolina. That's because Brown had 14 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots against a defense designed to stop her.

But Cox was deserving with 22 points, 11 rebounds and 5 assists -- her second straight double-double in the tournament to become the only Baylor player in the past 20 seasons with multiple tournament games of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists.

"She's got that little bit of oomph in her," Mulkey said.

There's a lot of oomph in Baylor, period.

"I looked at their numbers and obviously watched them on film and I thought their defense was good," Bluder said. "I didn't realize ... until you're out there playing against them, how good their defense is."

Try suffocating.

Iowa, the nation's leader in field goal percentage at 52 percent, made only 18 of 56 field goals to finish with a season-low 32.1 percent against the nation's leader in field goal defense (31 percent).

Iowa struggled defensively as well. With the focus on Brown, double- and triple-teamed inside, Cox took advantage with 14 first-half points -- she was averaging 12.7 a game -- on 7-for-11 shooting.

Baylor was so strong inside, scoring one fewer point in the paint than Iowa's team had for the game, that a 1-for-8 night from 3-point range was an afterthought.

"Coming into this game we said we needed everybody to contribute," Bluder said. "Unfortunately, we didn't get a lot from other people."

Those not named Gustafson scored 30 points, going 9-for-36 from the field, 4-for-26 on contested shots.

"I hope they win it all," Bluder said.

The Lady Bears certainly will be favored to win it all. Not only are they talented, they're playing loose and having fun. Being a heavy favorite seems to make them play harder.

They're in many ways an extension of their colorful coach, who has won titles at every level.

"I have said this from day one," Mulkey said, "it's all about championships."